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Fleetwood Mac's Tour With, FINALLY, The Full Line-up Is A Welcome Return

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 3, 2014 7:30PM

Fleetwood Mac, photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

Fleetwood Mac's On With the Show tour was only into its second night last evening at Chicago's United Center, but the quintet of veterans—Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, and Stevie Nicks—already have a show that feels legendary. There are a few pacing issues and minor flubs but overall this is the complete line-up and show from Fleetwood Mac people have been hoping to see for decades. This is also the first tour to see Christine McVie back in the fold since 1998 and some of the evening's highlights were marked by the band's obvious delight to have her on stage with them again. For a band with such an incestuous past, much of whose legend is built on who fucked who and who did which drugs off the other one, it's truly remarkable that the quintet seems to actually like each other onstage.

Opening with "The Chain" they started the show with a slow burn and a slight menace, giving everyone in the band equal weight. But when the band launched next into "You Make Loving Fun" it was an early solo shot for Christine McVie and an obvious nod of deference from her bandmates, a crew not know for shrinking egos. It was a sweet moment.

"Secondhand News" also sprouted early in the set and gave Lindsey Buckingham, sporting skinny jeans that would suffocate your average Brooklyn hipster, the chance to show that he still harbors some snarling grit in his soul. The man emanates a true vibrance that continues to make him feel contemporary and not like some member of a nostalgia act. Also? He still plays his electric guitar with his fingers and no pick. That is fucking impressive.

A few of Fleetwood Mac's friends came out to see the band last night. Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy

"Rhiannon" gave Stevie Nicks her first centerpiece of the evening, though she wasn't exactly hard to miss up until that point (all of those scarves on her mic stand would crush Steven Tyler). She was still able to muster the creepy, swirling vibe that beats within the breast of that song, but since she had to sing the chorus a full octave lower than in the past the song was transformed into something that was all build up with the celestial release. The crowd didn't care though. The second Nicks unleashed one of her signature "hey I'm twirling across the stage" moves the audience erupted with approval.

Uh oh, Mick Fleetwood heard we didn't like his drum solo. Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
This is an arena show, so of course the band was backed by a virtual shadow band of support, with our favorite being the dude drumming that was hidden to the side of Mick Fleetwood to fatten the main attractions beats and add additional cymbal washes to mimic studio wizardry. And the visuals behind the band ranged from the surreally pleasing to films that made us question f they were still in use from the band's touring days in the '80s. During the ebullient "Everywhere," Christine McVie was backed by appropriately shiny sun-soaked imagery that added to the song's bounce. And during an extended and suuuuper creepy—though totally satisfying—rendition of "Tusk," semi-abstract elephant imagery gave way to footage of the USC marching band that appeared on the original studio recording. Though our date was really sad to see the horn parts were handled via keyboard and not in person.

The evening wasn't perfect. There were some pacing problems with material selection that made the middle of the evening feel a little soft. There were also a few missteps that plague most bands of Fleetwood Mac's stature. For instance, did we really need a drum solo in the middle of "World Turning?" And "Say You Love Me" had to stop and restart again, though Christine McVie handled it with aplomb. But each time we worried the train was going to derail the band brought us back into the fold.

The first set closed with the group tearing into "Go Your Own Way" with a vigor that betrayed that traces of the venom with which the song was originally written may still course through each member's veins, but it only made the delivery more potent. Had the show ended with that, it would have been a perfect moment. But the band retook the stage for a first encore that included the aforementioned drum solo and "Don't Stop," the one hit that may have overstayed its welcome in the band's repertoire (and believe us when we say the band's delivery shows they may agree with that appraisal).

And of course we had to have a second encore. But it kicked off with Nicks' describing Christine McVie's return as the band having held out their dreamcatchers to capture their dream girl again. And then the group closed out the evening with their dream girl front and center, getting the last word, with a beautiful version of "Songbird." All sins of the previous encore were forgiven and every triumph throughout the evening was suddenly magnified again.

The On With the Show tour continues into December 2014.