Fleetwood_Mac_2009

Rating: ★★★★☆

It was Buckingham’s Palace on Friday night at The O2…

My tickets were booked 228 days before the gig. The first two shows having sold out within 10 minutes, it was lucky that an extra date was released that afternoon. These O2 gigs were highly sought-after and it was a privilege to be there. The question that loomed for all concerned was how well could they perform together 36 years after the release of their iconic Rumours album. The 2013/14 world tour coincided with a spate of band reunions. The Rolling Stones headlining that list, with mixed, but generally favourable reviews, most notably at this year’s Glastonbury. Would the FM band be a landslide success? Oh yes.

After a 20 minute delay, the band played in excess of two and a half hours including two encores, running right up to the 11pm curfew imposed by the venue.

The atmosphere was relatively muted for the opening number Second Hand News but the 15,000 strong audience soon warmed up to the opening riff of The Chain, which soon followed.

Lindsey Buckingham stole the vast majority of the limelight with an awesome all-round solo contribution on Big Love, which received one of many of the standing ovations across the night. As well as his excellent distinctive vocals, still powerful and nimble despite the passing of the years, stunning guitar solos were not in short-supply either and at one point I caught myself with my mouth hanging open.

Buckingham and Stevie Nicks often provided stories or explanations behind their songs. Nicks described the possible motivations for the rest of the band in take them in to the Fleetwood fold suggesting it was the way the vocalists formed triangular harmonies but thought the whole time Lindsey was thinking ‘well actually they really need a new lead guitarist, not sure why they need a cleaning lady’. They also had a quick kiss onstage quite early on, this was welcomed by whistles and cat-calls from the fans.

That ‘cleaning lady’ also maintained her superb vocals. While singing in a lower register than the Golden Years (which often threw me on the openings some of their most famous tracks) it meant that many songs had obviously been specially rearranged or redesigned. This was refreshing and made it more appealing as a live event. Nicks also sang a poem of hers that she had repeatedly lost and found, but which finally made it to the North Greenwich stage.

Go Your Own Way rocked the house as everyone clapped and chanted along to the classic chorus. The arena lights went up for this song and you could see all the fellow audience members which fed the collective enthusiasm and euphoria back into the crowd’s response.

A special word here for Mick Fleetwood on drums. Following World Turning he launched into a crazed off-the wall solo performance, playing up to the crowd for what felt like 10 minutes. Again, I was rather mesmerised so perhaps someone will know how long it actually was… He spent much of it not looking at his drums and shouting into the camera over his shoulder which projected his mad-eyed thrash onto the large screen backing the stage.

The wonderful Christine McVie made a special appearance for two encores. She rejoined the band on-stage for a crowd-pleasing Don’t Stop performance in the first, with an angelic rendition of Silver Springs and a final Sad Goodbye to end the second and close the night out. These were beautiful and showcased her part in Fleetwood Mac perfectly, but left a small part of me lamenting the absence of Little Lies and Everywhere, two of her other signature tunes.

The quality of the arena’s sound system was very high. This was the third date at the former Millennium Dome, therefore it may have benefited from some tweaks discovered in previous nights. The lighting and use of the big screens was inventive… artful (an eclipse of the sun doubling as an eye’s pupil and iris was a personal highlight) and interesting backgrounds (Windows screensaver-esque, think kaleidoscopes and symmetrical phasing patterns) were mixed in with extra large close ups of individual performers. The best use shown by a monotone, isolated shot of Lindsey Buckingham through Big Love allowing even those at the back see the hand-speed involved in his guitar master-class.

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This article was first posted on September 30, 2013