March 3, 2009 – It’s been more than five years since the start of the last Fleetwood Mac tour, but last night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, the band played, sounded, and looked as if time has stood still.
The band has been a four-piece for some time now after the 1998 departure of Christine McVie, but Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, John McVie, and Mick Fleetwood, and a team of five back-up musicians have no trouble filling the stage with activity and the air with a wall of sound.
Internal conflict and drama has characterized the band throughout its history, but there were no signs of such conflict at last night’s show, which was the second of the ‘Unleashed’ tour which began on March 1 in Pittsburgh.
The Stevie Nicks persona of mystique and her one-of-a-kind voice were in full force, although the singer did appear somewhat mellow during the first half of the set. It wasn’t until her keyboard-driven solo hit “Stand Back” kicked in that she finally appeared to be having as much fun as the Fleetwood Mac fans in attendance.
Lindsey Buckingham proved that he hasn’t lost his spark on the guitar or his contagious energy on stage; he looked and played like someone half his age.
The years have been especially kind to Mick Fleetwood, who at age 61 is still an incredibly menacing and powerful drum player. Fleetwood appeared to be the happiest of the group on stage as he glanced warmly at Stevie and Lindsey, almost as if he was amazed to see and hear his own band back in action.
The quiet John McVie isn’t to be forgotten although he certainly didn’t draw much in the way of attention toward himself as he plucked away on the bass in Stevie’s corner of the stage.
The Unleashed tour marks the band’s first tour in over 20 years without any new material or a new album to support. Given these circumstances, the set list was a very well-crafted mix of the famous, faster paced hits like “Go Your Own Way” and “Don’t Stop”, and the slower, lesser known and rarely played songs like “Storms”.
Closing out the set was the Stevie Nicks song “Silver Springs”, an unreleased song which has since become a live favorite after not making it onto the Rumors album. Despite tough economic times and increased ticket prices, the venue was packed with over 10,000 loud and dedicated Fleetwood fans.
With tens of millions of albums sold and thousands of concerts played over their 40 year career, Fleetwood Mac has nothing to prove in 2009. They do, however, have millions of fans around the world who still want to hear their music, and although the band does tend to play it safe these days by hitting the road about twice a decade, there are no visible signs of a slow-down.
Even Stevie Nicks has been quoted as saying that she knew instantly when her career started that it would be a life-long devotion, stating “I plan to do this when I’m 60.” That day has now come for Stevie and the band, but they aren’t about to let it slow them down.