Fleetwood Mac, 1975

Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie feature plenty of Mac

Review: In Clearwater Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie’s attack features plenty of Mac at Ruth Eckerd Hall (w/photos + setlist). They’re both every bit as charming as ever, too.

The impact of a popular, beloved rock and roll band is felt when its solo members have the pull to draw large crowds to see them perform alone, and the mighty Fleetwood Mac is no exception. Whetting the appetite of dedicated Mac fans while the band is on what appears to be an indeterminable hiatus is the fine, sleek, pop-driven collaborative album that two of its key members released earlier this year, Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie. In light of the record’s unpredicted creation and success, this duo embarked on a limited run of tour dates to support the record and, luckily, Clearwater’s exquisite Ruth Eckerd Hall was included as a tour stop and hosted the pair (alongside its magnificent backing band) on Thursday night.

Kicking things off early, after an abbreviated set from up and coming California rock outfit Wilderado, Buckingham and McVie quietly walked out together onto the expansive, dark stage to begin their performance. Both clad in black, the pair emerged and quietly jumped into a hushed version of Lindsey’s solo hit from 1981, “Trouble.” With the aid of the acoustic guitar he’d strapped on and some subdued keyboard work from Christine, the poppy, rockabilly-inspired tune took on a darker, more somber edge but sounded magnificent. Buckingham is an ace guitarist and an emotive singer (which he’d more than prove for the duration of the 100-minute set) and he made that more than known right from the get-go. Utilizing the duo-only format for the first four songs of the set found the pair touching on some classics from its Mac days as well as on another Buckingham solo track. The focus was on the two headliners for the night’s prologue and McVie certainly made her presence known with her lovely, delicate reading of “Wish You Were Here,” the ballad that closes Fleetwood Mac’s 1982 album, Mirage.

Before shifting gears into full-band mode, Buckingham spoke at length of how this duo project came together and how wonderful it was to have Christine McVie back in the spotlight after her extended decade-and-a-half break from music and a live concert stage, a statement that drew wild applause. And, with that, the full ensemble consisting of hard-hitting drummer Jimmy Paxson, and three guitarists rounded out the sound and added flourish to the performance. Diving head first into selections from their collaborative album, Lindsey and Christine instantly served up the two opening selections from the album, the catchy “Sleeping Around The Corner” and “Feel About You” back-to-back while sharing lead vocal duties and harmonizing together. A superb mix and the hall’s impeccable sound made the songs really come alive and, although some in attendance seemed unfamiliar with the material, the new stuff seemed to go over well.

But the audience really showed its appreciation when the long-missed McVie came from around her bank of keyboards to the front of the stage to show off her still sweet and soothing vocal abilities for the upbeat “Too Far Gone” on which she shook a pair of maracas while crooning. Though her vocals are a little aged and not quite able to reach the highest notes she used to hit, McVie, now 74, is still a gifted player and performer, and she can still belt out a hit song like few other veteran singer/songwriters can. And speaking of hits, the fierce reactions for the Mac mini-set that followed sure served to engage the nearly sold-out hall. The pair’s vocal harmonies were in fine shape for its reading of the pop classic “Hold Me.” A fever pitch was hit when the band tore into a ferocious version of quirky 1979 rocker “Tusk.” McVie strapped on an accordion and Buckingham nearly stole the show with his almost psychotic, desperate delivery of the song’s opening lines which helped to accentuate its deep, dark paranoia. His maniacal laughs throughout and his frantic pacing while playing made this the first of many show-stopping moments.

McVie ran into some vocal troubles during her solo spotlight on early Mac classic “You Make Loving Fun,” but quickly recovered and made the song a truly memorable part of the program. Another Buckingham jaw-dropping moment came on his extended, super-charged version of “I’m So Afraid,” a track from the first Fleetwood Mac album he appeared on in 1975. Showing off his indescribable skill and prowess as one of the most gifted and unique guitarists to ever play. and under a flood of beaming red lights, Lindsey entered other-worldliness with his passionate and possessed reading of the claustrophobic rocker.

A moment of heartfelt levity came during an inspired rendition of another Fleetwood Mac classic, the cutting, callous sentiment enveloped in a guise of a catchy pop song, “Go Your Own Way.” Buckingham worked his way to behind Christine’s keyboards and lovingly wrapped his arm around her shoulder and the two shared what appeared to be a sentimental smile which could have served as a nod to the collective fine job they’ve done of carrying on their musical legacy with this, their newest project.

A three-song encore included thorough, detailed individual band member introductions courtesy of Buckingham and closed with “Game Of Pretend,” one of McVie’s best ballads from the pair’s recent album and, arguably, her finest and most delicate and gorgeous vocal performance of the night. The hushed, shimmering beauty of the tune reminded everyone in the hall of the pop elegance she’s still capable of conjuring and how sorely missed she’s been missed from a live concert stage. It made for a fitting close to an enjoyable night filled with familiar classics, some surprises, and a hint of the fine material this talented pair of artists can still produce.

See more photos from the set below. Listen to a playlist featuring songs Buckingham & McVie played here. Read an interview with McVie here.

Setlist

  1. Trouble
  2. Wish You Were Here
  3. Never Going Back Again
  4. Shut Us Down
  5. Sleeping Around The Corner
  6. Feel About You
  7. In My World
  8. Too Far Gone
  9. Hold Me
  10. Little Lies
  11. Tusk
  12. Love Is Here To Stay
  13. Red Sun
  14. You Make Loving Fun
  15. I’m So Afraid
  16. Go Your Own Way
  17. Everywhere (encore)
  18. Lay Down For Free (encore)
  19. Game of Pretend (encore)

Gabe Echazabal and Tracy May / Creative Loafing Tampa Bay / Friday, November 10, 2017