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Concert Review: Fleetwood Mac, MTS Centre, Winnipeg, MB, 6/6/09

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Around 11,000 fans showed up for Fleetwood Mac, the legendary Anglo-American band almost as famous for their internal romantic strife as for their 40-million-selling 1977 album, Rumours, as well as other multi-platinum records in their extensive career. The promoter expected a sellout, but at nearly $200 a ticket, prices may have been a deterrent, especially in a year in which the concert market in Winnipeg has been over-saturated with shows. Seats in the first two rows on the floor were still available just days beforehand, for example.

The focal points of the group are still Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, who completely revitalized the Mac's career in the '70s. They walked out hand in hand, reminding everyone of the tumultuous love affair that almost broke up the band but which also yielded some fantastic music along the way. Joining them on stage were drummer Mick Fleetwood (who bashed out a drum solo near the end and was mostly unintelligible whenever he spoke), docile bassist John McVie (who never cracked a smile), a keyboardist, a second guitarist and three back-up vocalists. The performance — which included no opening act — lasted around two and a half hours.

Despite being billed as a greatest hits tour, the show was aimed at long-time fans as it featured — almost exclusively — '70's material. I was hoping to hear tracks from their smash "comeback" album, 1987's Tango In The Night, but all that was played was a fiery, acoustic version of "Big Love." They performed nothing from their four '90s albums. 

Buckingham proved every bit the showman, blasting out his signature guitar style with tremendous speed. At times, he would lean over the edge of the stage on bended knee while soloing and allowed fans to touch their fingers on the fret board. Once in while, after intensely performing a song, he would stomp on the stage and yell out "Yeah!" as if to prove to himself that he still had it in him. He clearly carried the band on his back with his performance, both visually and musically.

Stevie Nicks had earlier on began teasing us with her outstretched arms, grasping her shawl as if she was about to twirl around and around; she finally did so towards the latter part of the show. Whenever she and Buckingham walked on the stage, they did so hand in hand with gentle kisses of goodbye to each other before making their way to their respective microphone stands.

Her distinctively warm and husky vocals were clearly worn down. She didn't sound as clear on some lines and not as intense as Buckingham.  While Buckingham was busy discharging massive amounts of adrenalin through his finger and feet, Nicks seemed to conserve her energy.  Still, fans were going all out with digital cameras and cell phones to capture the photogenic duo.

For some songs, Nicks and Buckingham told the stories of their origin, which also related to how they met each other in high school and subsequently became band mates. Nicks mentioned performing gigs with rock legends like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, which drew great applause, making me think about how young she was when she started out and how well she now still appears more than four decades later.

The band opened the performance with "Monday Morning," from the 1975 album, Fleetwood Mac. Two solo tracks found their way into the set, Nicks' "Stand Back" as well as Buckingham's "Go Insane." I had hoped to hear his other well-known solo hit, 1981's "Trouble," but that wasn't to be. For some songs, Nicks and Buckingham appeared together with a single acoustic guitar while the other bandmates took a break. In such moments, their selections included "Landslide" and "Never Going Back Again."

Near the end of the show, Mick Fleetwood introduced each band member, beginning with the backing singers and ending with John McVie, who was praised as being the foundation of the group. He then credited Buckingham as being their mentor in the studio and their maestro on stage. And at the end, Nicks bent down and shook one lucky fan's hand while Buckingham carefully gave out guitar picks and handshakes to fans up front.

Despite the best efforts of the back-up singers, the unique vocals of singer/keyboardist Christine McVie — who retired in 1998 — were missed. 

Unlike most shows at the MTS Centre, there was no barricade between the front row and the stage, which inspired some clever fans to flee their seats further back on the floor to stand in the aisles for a better view. This proved a frustating situation, sometimes resulting with those who were already standing by their seats having to ask the newcomers to move aside so as not to block their views.

Set List
Monday Morning
The Chain
Dreams
I Know I'm Not Wrong
Gypsy
Go Insane
Rhiannon
Second Hand News
Tusk
Sara
Big Love
Landslide
Never Going Back Again
Storms
Say You Love Me
Gold Dust Woman
Oh Well
I'm So Afraid
Stand Back
Go Your Own Way
First Encore
World Turning
Drum Solo
Don't Stop
Second Encore
Silver Springs

My rating for this show is 3.5/5.

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About Triniman

Almost weekly, Triniman catches new movies, and adds one or two CDs to his collection. Due to time constraints, he blogs about only 5% of the CDs, books and DVDs that he purchases. Holed up in the geographic centre of North America, the cultural mecca of Canada, and the sunniest city north of the 49th, Winnipeg, Triniman blogs a bit when he's not swatting mosquitoes, shoveling snow or golfing.