This post originally appeared on Bed Crumbs.
In a word – inspired. That was Fleetwood Mac Thursday night as they took to the stage at Madison Square Garden for their third show there in the past three months.
To be sure, there was an air of familiarity. How could there not be with a setlist of hits that invite sing-alongs to tunes many fans have been singing for the past 40 years? Considering the second leg of the current tour is hitting up many of the same markets again, a shuffled set list would have been ideal. Still, while the songs remained the same, the performances were as fresh as if it were their first stop in town in a decade.
Through serendipity and carpe diem decisions, Thursday night was the fourth show I attended this year. Each time has been different. Perspective helps. I’ve been in the third row. I’ve been in the nosebleeds. I’ve now been at the stage. But it’s also been fascinating to watch how, from date to date, each performance has changed.
Thursday night’s concert was mesmerizing, and not something just noticed from being at the foot of the stage, though that certainly helps with detail. It had nothing to do with my proximity to Fleetwood Mac; it was Fleetwood Mac themselves. They were, for lack of a better term, on. They were, as I would come to find out after the show, truly inspired.
Lindsey Buckingham tore it up, song after song, never once dropping energy, astounding the audience over and over with his rapid finger picking. “Can you believe he doesn’t use a pick?” was a frequently heard stunned utterance.
Christine McVie’s voice was smooth and effortless as it slipped into the long missed classic Mac three part harmonies. Whether jamming away at the keyboards, sauntering across the stage with an accordion, or soulfully playing “Songbird,” it was as if she had never missed a day, let alone 16 years.
John McVie was ever the backbone player, intrinsically laying down solid bass lines that anchored song after song. When he launched into his iconic solo during “The Chain,” the audience roared, and rightly so.
Mick Fleetwood was fervid, his playing larger than life. Energetic, playful, and wild: the human version of The Muppets’ Animal. His “World Turning” solo takes on a life of its own, just as impassioned and full of spirit as the man beating away at the drum kit.
Stevie Nicks was truly possessed. “Gold Dust Woman,” with its “Crackhead Dance” and ever-changing, ever-intensified coda is the 21st century “‘Rhiannon’ Exorcism.” Passion emanated from every pore as she howled “Silver Springs.” There were multiple occasions where I realized I had stopped breathing.
And they all seemed to be getting along with each other. Fleetwood Mac is no stranger to internal drama; it’s in their DNA. But this tour has seen a plethora of hot and cold moments, particularly between Buckingham and Nicks.
It was once said that seeing them together, hand in hand, is “the musical equivalent of seeing divorced parents back together.” Just before the end of “Landslide,” Nicks reached her hand out for Buckingham. After a brief, playful exchange, he finally took it. There was a moment, a look in their eyes, of pure love. It was, truly, like seeing divorced parents who had mended their wounds.
Unknown to the audience, Mick Fleetwood’s mother passed away that same day, making the show all the more poignant in retrospect. This is a band that, despite everything, loves each other to the core, though they don’t always show it. That love was on full display Thursday night. That love is what inspired their performances.
“Take care of yourselves,” Fleetwood stressed earnestly, signing off after a night of play. “But more importantly, in this crazy, crazy world we seem to be living in, be so kind to one another.”