Concert review: Fleetwood Mac at American Airlines Center

Posted 11:15am on Thursday, Jun. 06, 2013

When Lindsey Buckingham swung through Fort Worth and McKinney on a small-hall solo tour last year, he talked about how the “big machine” -- Fleetwood Mac -- helped fuel the “small machine” of his solo career, and vice versa, and how it took some growing up for him to realize that he needed both in his life.

Judging from Tuesday night’s Fleetwood Mac concert at American Airlines Center, the big machine is in fine working order, despite all the bumps and dents, changed and missing parts, and much, much mileage that extends to well before Buckingham and Stevie Nicks even joined the band.

And the machine worked well as a unit. At times, especially on post- Rumours albums, it often sounded as if the band’s three singer-songwriters (including Christine McVie, who’s not in the current lineup) were trading off solo work that just happened to feature really strong backup musicians, because the singers’ personalities had become so strong. But in Tuesday’s concert, Buckingham and Nicks played seamlessly off each other, tied together by the strong rhythms of drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie.

Not that there weren’t moments with echoes of solo-act self-indulgence, such as when Nicks did her solo hit Stand Back or when Buckingham did an unaccompanied, acoustic version of Big Love (prefaced by a monologue about how the meaning of the song’s meaning has changed for him, which he also did on his solo tour). Even Fleetwood got into the act, with a drum solo during the middle of World Turning that came complete with the drummer’s egging-on-the audience narration. But for the most part, this was a show that highlighted Fleetwood Mac’s strengths as a group, with Buckingham and Nicks showing stunning chemistry, despite -- or because of -- all they’ve been through together.

When the two singers faced each other while singing Buckingham’s Go Your Own Way and Nicks’ Silver Spring, it was hard to forget that these were songs they wrote about their disintegrating relationship around the time Rumours was recorded. They seemed to be challenging each other, and calling up old wounds, yet putting forth the feeling that everything has been reconciled.

The show included a healthy dose of material from that album -- the first three songs, including a fiery The Chain, were all from Rumours -- that came off fresh in spite of more than 35 years of heavy radio play. You got the sense that for Buckingham and Nicks, the songs are just as intensely meaningful as when they were experiencing the feelings that inspired them firsthand. Nicks’ voice may have lost some of the sweetness it had in the ’70s, but if anything, her passion was stronger Tuesday night, and she can still get completely lost in the music as the band vamps through the end of Gold Dust Woman.

But the set list spanned the Buckingham-Nicks era, including four songs from Tusk, an adventurous album that hasn’t become a classic-rock warhorse the way Rumours has (Nicks said that one of the songs, Sisters of the Moon, hadn’t been performed on stage since 1981). It’s hard to hit all the highlights, but Buckingham’s ear-searing, guitar-abusing solo on 1975’s I’m So Afraid, as well as his slowed-down Never Going Back Again and Nicks’ Landslide -- with its lyrics about growing older that have become even more touching as the band and its core audience have aged -- were among the most memorable moments.

Was Christine McVie missed? Yes and no -- she wrote a lot of good songs, but the only one in Tuesday’s show was Don’t Stop, a Fleetwood Mac hit that was a rare instance of someone other than the songwriter doing the bulk of the singing. She was the group’s most straightforward writer, and she balanced out Nicks’ and Buckingham’s eccentricity, which grew in the post- Rumours era. But on Tuesday night, they found their own balance. Purists might complain that the band’s pre-Buckingham-Nicks output was ignored, but these are the parts of the big machine that most of the audience came to see, and the machine worked even better than expected after all the roads it’s traveled down.

Robert Philpot, 817-390-7872 Twitter: @rphilpot

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