This past Wednesday, on November 21st, I attended a Fleetwood Mac concert. Fleetwood Mac is a rock band that formed in London during the 1970’s and include both American and British performers. They are widely-known and just embarked on their most recent tour in October of 2018, called An Evening with Fleetwood Mac. This tour is different from the band’s others in that one of the original members, Lindsey Buckingham, has departed from the group, and it is the band’s farewell tour. Neil Finn and Mike Campbell are the two new additions since Buckingham’s departure, both of who blend well with the rest of the band.
The concert was held at a large indoor arena called the SAP Center in San Jose, California. The arena is known to be the home of the San Jose Sharks Hockey Team, and seats 15,000 people. As I walked into the arena, I noticed a large majority of the concert-goers were middle aged people, the baby-boomer generation if you will. Both adult men and women filed into the venue, with excited looks on their faces. I was pleasantly surprised by the noticeable amount of young people in the audience as well, many of who were decked out in 70’s apparel of scarves and flare jeans. It is clear that Fleetwood Mac attracts fans from a time of their peak popularity, but they also continue to attract new listeners as many of their songs are timeless and well-known even among a younger demographic. The crowd was diverse, however still dominantly white. Everyone seemed to be in a great spirits during the show, singing along with the band receiving positive responses to their music. Typically concerts at large venues are crowded and impersonal, however the band was great at connecting with fans and audience participation. There was a good amount of fans who knew all the songs, but many younger people in the audience only sang along and danced to the band’s main hits.
At the start of the show, Fleetwood Mac entered the stage and took their places at their rightful microphones or instruments. Stevie Nicks walked straight to her microphone in the center of the stage, followed by her was Mick Fleetwood who headed to the drum set in the back left side of the stage. Meanwhile, Christine McVie took her seat at her keyboard, while her ex-husband John took his place on the stage next to Nicks’ with his bass. Lastly, Mike Campbell and Neil Finn join in. The band opens with of their most popular songs, The Chain. The audience immediately begins to sing along and cheer. I saw both young and old fans stand up and sway to the melody of the song. The group put a lot of care and feeling into building their set list, and took the trouble to introduce songs associated with former band members.
The overall feel of the concert was very natural, almost like a family feel. The band members, although not all original members and relationships between certain members remain, Fleetwood Mac’s presence was electric. They knew what they were doing, there was amazing chemistry between all band members, and the set-up of the stage was very practical. All of the group can be seen spread out across the stage with backdrop that had fun and calming images, almost psychedelic imagery of nature and flowers. Steve Nicks rocked an all-black long coat, with two different gloves on each hand and tied it all together with a scarf tied around her microphone. John McVie wore a fun bright colored vest and a white hat that matched his hair. Fleetwood is seen behind his gold and white drum set with a hat as well, rocking a western themed outfit including a black best and a red bandana. Mike Campbell made his mark with a fun top hat and neon colored coat, to stand out among the majority of band members in black. All band members seemed to be in good spirits and connected on a spiritual level throughout the performance, which made for an inspiring show.
The band is known to perform mainly pop rock and folk rock songs and in their earlier days resembled that of a blues band. The music group and its diverse members incorporate many different styles and influences into their music, making their concert lack repetition due to the variety and diversity of genres and albums they performed from. Fleetwood Mac included many songs from their most popular album, Rumours, in their set list; but the group also incorporated other songs from all throughout the bands time creating music. During the concert one could detect the varying musical influences on the band from R&B Muddy Waters style, folk and banjo, and finger picking, to call and response between the band and the singers, and the British blues-boom in their early days. The British blues-boom is an authentic vintage feel of a performance that has 12 bar blues progression and shouting vocals. You hear the band transition into a softer more folk feel throughout the evolution of their albums. In An Evening with Fleetwood Mac the audience heard all different genres and musical styles.
During the performance of World Turning, Mick Fleetwood had a long drum and percussion solo. He started out with a backbeat type drum rhythm while getting the audience excited with inserting words of excitement. He engaged with the audience doing call and response with drums and vocals, while just playing the hi-hat to build up. Fleetwood then breaks out in a full drum solo while engaging with the crowd to cheer him on. The backup percussionist then joined in and the two played somewhat randomly. There was no consistent rhythm, but it was fun and uplifting beat. In the song Oh Well, one of the band’s first songs originally composed by Peter Green, Campbell took over the role for an instrumental solo. Mike Campbell remained true to Green’s original blue style during the performance and played the classic riffs of the original sounds. Finn provided a lot of the main acoustic strumming for songs where Nicks was lead singer.
Most of the bands song consist of instrumentation including drums, bass, guitar, and piano, along with harmonies from the backup singers, percussionist, keyboarder, and guitarist. Although older, the folk rock group still can perform like they used to. Mick Fleetwood was jamming out on the drums like he was twenty-five again, and McVie brought lots of character to the stage. Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie were in the spotlight Wednesday night, especially since the departure of Buckingham from the group. Band members took turns in the spotlight with instrumental solos as well. I heard beautiful harmonies between Nicks and Finn, and was pleasantly surprised how Neil Finn naturally fit into the group’s vibe. The chemistry between the singers and band members was great, almost so much so that you would never be able to tell they had been working together for just a couple of months.
Harmonies between Finn, Mac and Nicks were powerful and beautiful, sounding like it was meant to be. The band provided a mix of their best hits, both sentimental and loud. The music slowed down and the lights came down, as Nicks started her performance of Free Fallin. During the performance, images of the old band members and Tom Petty flashed on the screen in the background, giving a feel of nostalgia and wholesomeness. One of my favorite songs of the night was Stevie’s feminist rendition of Black Magic Woman, as she announced to the crowd that she rewrote is from the point of view of a woman.
I admire Fleetwood Mac and I have been a fan ever since I learned that both Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham attended the same high school I did. At the time I knew of the band, but had never heard of their music. Out of curiosity I began following the band and found that I really enjoyed their natural folky music. I was very excited at the news they were touring again and my parents took the opportunity to quickly grab tickets. I loved that I saw other people my age in attendance, fully in spirit. The crowd was active and engaged throughout the entirety of the performance, while Fleetwood Mac remained exciting. It made me even more delighted and involved in the concert, singing along to the tunes with my parents. I think their new tour and more specifically their performance on Wednesday night was magical and wildly successful. I band like Fleetwood Mac can rarely disappoint. Although skeptical at first of the new additions of Finn and Campbell, they proved themselves exceedingly. They blended in perfectly, and the rest of the audience seemed impressed and happy that the band’s sound and spirit was still remained.
It’s safe to say there was a generous consensus of satisfaction. The crowd cheered for an encore and were consistently standing, dancing, and singing along throughout the two hour performance. As the concert began and the band members entered the stage, I looked around and saw many fans starry eyed staring at the stage, giddy and smiling to their neighbors about the beauty that was to come. Afterwards as we were exiting, the same excited look in most audience members eyes remained. People were talking about their favorite song, Fleetwood’s impressive drumming regardless of his age, Stevie’s soulful voice, and the amazing instrumentation and voices heard during the night.