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Tuesday 1 October 2013

Another Point Of View: Fleetwood Mac (Paul Hutchings)

Fleetwood Mac – O2 Arena London 24 September 2013
It was time for a rare to visit to the vacuous O2 arena in London for an equally rare visit from the British-American super group Fleetwood Mac as part of my year of classic rock and oh my, were they good. The Mac are a band that I’ve lived with for a long time, with Rumours possibly my favourite non-metal album of all time. However, I’ve never seen them live before and given their history it appeared likely that I would never get to witness them in the flesh. When the opportunity presented itself earlier in the year it was just a case of making sure tickets were purchased. No easy task given the speed they sold out. We spent a while before the show marvelling at the age range of the audience. A few metal heads, many old hippies and I suppose the type of audience you would expect them to attract; a real cross section and many there for the event as opposed to real fans of the band. However, just for once I shall concentrate on the events on stage rather than the annoying fucks sat around me.
Kicking off with a triple header from Rumours, the band were on excellent form from the off. Second Hand Dreams moved nicely into The Chain which everyone obviously knows thanks to its use for a zillion years on Formula One racing and then a stunning version of Dreams. In between songs Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks duly entertained us with some rambling commentary and recollections. We were treated to a range of tracks from their vast back catalogue, including Sad Angel and fans favourite Rhiannon before a groan from Mrs H as they launched into a four song
selection from Tusk, not one of our favourite albums although Sara was as haunting as ever. A rare trip to the 1980s saw an acoustic version of Big Love from Tango In tTe Night which allowed Buckingham to release the ego for a bit. He’s a bit strange on stage, slightly autistic in his delivery but as we discussed after, if you were in Fleetwood Mac for all these years then you’d be a little different too. The Rumours tracks continued with Never Going Back Again and Gold Dust Woman which really allowed Stevie to prove that she still has that golden voice. There really is no-one like her. However, the highlights of the night were still to come and as the band launched into I’m So Afraid from their self titled album, it was time for the musicianship to really come to the fore.
Throughout the evening Buckingham’s guitar playing was exquisite and I’d really forgotten how damn good this man is on the six strings. Of course, like Beck, Hendrix and Knopfler, Buckingham doesn’t use a pick which makes his sound quite unique. I read a description of his playing recently which referred to his style as ranging from beautifully simple to almost careering out of control and that sums it up well. His solo on I’m So Afraid was amongst the finest I’ve ever seen. Backed by the rhythm section of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, this band can rock out with the best of them. A true highlight. We were then treated to Stand Back which is a Stevie Nicks solo track and this allowed Nicks the spotlight. The swirling dress and hippy scarves were present as they always have been and her voice was quite captivating. I can see why Mrs H loves her so much. The main set ended with another from Rumours, Go Your Own Way before the encores and predictable drum solo from Fleetwood led to Don’t Stop which had the entire arena dancing and singing along. After introducing all the members of the band including those who provided backing support, we were treated to a quite spine tingling version of Silver Springs. This is one of their most delicate songs and the only one from The Dance. This song highlights just what a stunning voice Stevie Nicks really has. Just Beautiful. They finished with Say Goodbye, a duet between Nicks and Buckingham to conclude a quite stunning evening. The fact that Christine McVie made an appearance the following night does not detract from my rating of 10/10

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