Thursday, October 9, 2014

Regarding the Fleetwood Mac show in Chicago

There are certain dreams that we have as kids that we know will never come true. Par exemple, I will never be a pirate or a Power Ranger or Captain of the Starship Voyager. Trust me, I’ve tried. But then there are other dreams that we think are impossible to realize until they are.

Last week I had the distinct and long-awaited pleasure of seeing my favorite rock band of all time live, reunited, and in person. Fleetwood Mac came to Chicago 1 week ago today and I was there. I WAS THERE.

First some background: When I was 13 years old, my cousin Lily gave me a copy of Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits. I think she had an extra copy or something and thought I’d like to have it. Was a simple mindless that profoundly influenced my musical life. Without the slightest bit of exaggeration, I listened to that CD for the next 6 years.

I’d never heard music like theirs before. I found Stevie Nicks’ vocals to be haunting and magical. Lindsay Buckingham sang hard and played even harder. Christine McVie’s songs were like lyrical poetry. She knew so much about me, I thought. So often I wished I could write things as good as this: “And I wish you all the love in the world, but most of all, I wish it from myself.” Their music, their words, the way they explored and explained feelings spoke to me in deep and meaningful ways.

They were the definitive sound track of my youth.

Flash-forward to the night of October 2nd 2014— I was sitting at the United Center, ironically watching a band that had not reunited in 16 years. This tour is called On With the Show and it is especially significant because Christine McVie rejoined the band again after a painfully long time.

Aged only in years, it was quickly apparent that this band has not lost any of its hard-rockin’ potency. They started the show with “The Chain” and the sold out crowd erupted. The sight of these 5 gifted people sharing the same stage at the same time was worthy of nothing less than a thundering ovation. The feeling was electric.

Christine jumped right into the spot light with “You Make Loving Fun” and proved that her voice and keyboard prowess remain as effortless as ever. Her other stupendous numbers included “Everywhere”, “Say You Love Me”, and one of my personal favorites “Little Lies”. At one point, Mick Fleetwood proudly proclaimed that, “our songbird has returned!” and the crowd let it be known how much we missed her. Without question and rightfully so, this tour belongs to Christine.

Truth be told though, I was most excited to see Stevie Nicks. Not only was this blond, beautiful witch songstress the stuff of my confused teenage dreams, but I also worshipped her “Trouble in Shangri-La” solo album. (I know every word, of every song). To see her live and with the band that started it all was a feeling I cannot forget. She did not disappoint: Stevie remains a quintessential rock queen. Songs like “Dreams”, “Gypsy”, “Landslide” and my favorite “Rhiannon” prove that she’s still as silky as ever. Her stand out number however was “Gold Dust Woman”. Clad in her iconic gold shawl and bathed in a gold spotlight, she sang and stomped her way through that song like she was possessed. Maybe she was—and it made for an amazing spectacle.

It’s quite wonderful to have your divas live up to the legend you’ve created in your head.

While I adore Christine and Stevie for the righteous rock icons there are, for me, that night belonged to one man: Lindsay Buckingham. Although I am not a great fan of his FM songs (as they’re a little too aggressive for me), that aggression manifests so exquisitely when played live. Songs like “Never Going Back Again” and “I’m So Afraid” take on a life of their own when he plays that guitar. The guitar solo in “Big Love” was nothing short of a master class in rock guitardom. He makes it talk, and moan, and wail in all sorts of ways. By night’s end, his playing left me a sweaty, pile of spent euphoria. Not to over-sell this but Buckingham is the greatest steward of the rock guitar on the planet.

The show over all is neither big nor flashy. It is basically 5 people doing what they were put on this good Earth to do: rock the house. And rock they did with 3 encores! They came back with their rock anthem “Don’t Stop” which you can imagine sounds and feels incredible in an arena. They followed that up with “Silver Springs” and closed with Christine solo at the piano singing “Songbird”. I don’t know about anyone else, but I was waiting to hear “Songbird” all night long! The wait was worth it—Christine delivered a tender and poignant rendition of her song that truthfully brought me to tears. How we missed that songbird.

I’ve been to a lot of shows and I’ve seen a lot of giants of the industry. But none have meant as much to me as seeing Fleetwood Mac. Growing up listening to their songs and wishing they’d get back together was hard. Knowing their tumultuous history made the wishing even harder. But as Lindsay so eloquently put it at one point, this is a “profound and poetic chapter for this band.” It’s a chapter that I was thrilled to witness and all too eager to read.

As a bonus: You can watch their performance on the Today Show this morning here.

(Photos courtesy of Chicago Tribune)

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