Return of the Mac

Review: Fleetwood Mac debuts new song, rocks Verizon Center

Fleetwood Mac / AP

BY:

Ten thousand drunk women agree: They still love Stevie Nicks.

That was the news from my seat Tuesday night in the 400-level of the Verizon Center, where Fleetwood Mac returned to the stage for the first time in three years.

The calls rained down from the crowd: "I love you, Steeeeeevie!"

Like any number of other aging rock acts, Fleetwood could have just slapped together a tour and slogged through their old hits. According to the Internet, which is always correct, the Eagles are hitting the road this summer in support of a "career-spanning documentary" of the band released in February.

Warner Bros. recently released a 35th anniversary "super deluxe" edition of Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 mega-hit "Rumours," which is as good an excuse as any for a tour. Instead, Fleetwood debuted new material amidst a solid mix of deep cuts and hits from across its catalogue.

"One of the things we thought would be a great thing to do this time before we hit the road was go into the studio and cut some new material," guitarist Lindsey Buckingham said.

An EP of the new material is expected to drop sometime in the imminent future, and the band played one of the new cuts, "Sad Angel," Tuesday night.

Mawkish title aside, the song sounded like vintage Fleetwood—driving mid-tempo drums, nice harmonies between Nicks and Buckingham, and catchy guitar lines.

The band also played a couple cuts from the new-wave tinged "Tusk," as well as a forgotten demo from its early days.

From my high perch overlooking stage left, I could make out the general form of Nicks as she shambled about the stage in her gypsy woman outfit, tambourine in hand.

Nicks can’t hit the high notes anymore, something most noticeable on songs like "Dreams" and "Rhiannon."

Buckingham’s voice has also been grizzled by age. Without the tempering alto of Christine McVie, who left the band in 1998 (and also the only one who didn’t sing about having one’s heart shoved in a garbage disposal), the whole outfit sounds leaner and angrier.

A stripped-down yet 8-minute-long "Gold Dust Woman," propelled by Mick Fleetwood’s drums and a fierce performance from Nicks, was one of the highlights of the night.

Buckingham remains a seriously underrated guitar player, as evidenced by his scorching solo on "I’m So Afraid."

And it wouldn’t be Fleetwood Mac without some excess. Cue two encores and a drum solo. (Can we stop here for a moment and acknowledge that drum solos are to concerts as impromptu, drunken toasts are to weddings? Sometimes done well, but most often politely endured?)

But the real show, as always, was Buckingham, Nicks, and their tortured relationship. Even after all these years, they still hold some strange spell over each other and audiences.

It was fitting, then, that Buckingham didn’t end the show with a hit, say "Second Hand News" or "Go Your Own Way," but rather obscure downer: "Say Goodbye," a 2003 song he said was about closure with Nicks. "Once you said goodbye to me, yeah / Now I say goodbye to you," the chorus goes.

"I just feel like they’re soul mates, y’know?" a tipsy woman behind me said to her friend as I was leaving the Verizon Center. "Like, maybe you don’t have to end up with someone to be soul mates with them."

The existence and nature soul mates aside, what’s clear is that Fleetwood Mac can still hold audiences rapt with their emotional baggage, of which they will never lack. News broke recently that Mick Fleetwood has filed for separation from his wife.

CJ Ciaramella   Email CJ | Full Bio | RSS
CJ Ciaramella is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Beacon, he was a reporter for the Daily Caller. He was also a Collegiate Network year-long fellow at the San Diego Union-Tribune and has written articles for the Weekly Standard and Oregon Quarterly. Ciaramella attended the University of Oregon, where he edited the award-winning student magazine, the Oregon Commentator. He lives in Washington, D.C. His Twitter handle is @cjciaramella. His email address is ciaramella@freebeacon.com.

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