ANAHEIM, CA – When Stevie Nicks sings the line about “getting older, too” during “Landslide,” it means something entirely different than when Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines sings the ballad. For Maines and her youthful audience, the song is about the realization that maturity is slowly setting in, but for Nicks (and for many of her graying fans) these words now speak literally about getting old. Nevertheless, the music played tonight by the original lineup of Fleetwood Mac (with the exception of the absent Christine McVie) offered sound proof that—like fine wine—quality music only gets better with age.
Tonight’s set list alternated between Nicks’ emotive balladry, and Lindsey Buckingham’s quirky guitar-pop. Wearing a series of frilly shawls and singing into a microphone draped in flowing scarves, Nicks played the witchy woman on “Rhiannon” and “Gold Dust Woman,” and then became a sweet motherly figure for “Beautiful Child” (a relatively obscure track from Tusk). Buckingham showed off his acoustic picking skills while accompanying Nicks on “Landslide,” but was overly theatrical when soloing on the encore, “Go Your Own Way”—even resorting to pounding the body of his guitar as if it were a bongo. Such macho moments revealed Buckingham is the hardest rocking member of this otherwise soft rock outfit. John McVie’s bass playing shined during the memorable bridge of “The Chain,” which opened the show, and Mick Fleetwood stepped out from his drum kit for an eye-popping rhythmic workout during one of the band’s two encores.
Between songs, Nicks and Buckingham took the opportunity to explain the pivotal role the Los Angeles area played in the evolution of Fleetwood Mac. Nicks told the audience an abbreviated story about how she and Buckingham arrived in Los Angeles as struggling songwriters, who were later invited by John McVie and Fleetwood to join their already established band. This turn of events led to one of the biggest success stories in pop music history. But any “rumors” of this rock dinosaur’s demise are greatly exaggerated.
Not all of the night’s music amounted to a career retrospective, as Fleetwood Mac also found room for a few choice numbers from its new album, Say You Will. The songs “Peacekeeper” and ”What’s The World Coming To” are both thoughtful, socially-aware additions to the group’s repertoire.
This performance by the reunited Fleetwood Mac was by no means a perfect 10, as was exemplified by the musical mess it made of the song “Tusk.” But since the band has been making sophisticated pop since its ’70s heyday—rather than, say, youthful punk rock—all of its accrued wisdom only makes its songs that much more believable.