If forty years ago, when Fleetwood Mac was at the height of what guitarist Lindsey Buckingham now refers to as “The musical soap opera,” someone were to tell you that in 2017, the Mac would be a happy, healthy functioning touring act people would have thought you had partied harder than the six bands on this weekend’s Classic West.
But, 40 years after Rumours and all the tabloid drama that went with that landmark album, the Mac are a regular touring act and Buckingham told me earlier this year the band “is in a good place.”
So in a very unexpected twist of fate, the night after the Eagles delivered an emotionally compelling and dramatic performance (https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevebaltin/2017/07/16/the-eagles-turn-classic-west-into-a-powerful-memorial-for-glenn-frey/#4983218a1e6a) at night one of Classic West, Fleetwood Mac got to come out and revel in the celebratory, feel good vibes that have characterized their tours in recent years.
After opening with “The Chain” and the Christine McVie pop gem, “You Make Loving Fun,” Stevie Nicks established the mood of the night when she said, “Without further adieu, we should get this party started,” introducing “Dreams.”
Despite their numerous upbeat pop/rock anthems, Fleetwood Mac aren’t what you would call a typical party band. With songs like the encore, “Don’t Stop” and the Buckingham-fronted “Go Your Own Way,” the band absolutely possesses the capability to get 50,000 fans singing and celebrating in unison. And the anthem-like “Go Your Own Way” is a joyous and jubilant celebration.
There were plenty of more introspective moments too. After the sublime “Landslide,” a song like the Eagles’ “Desperado,” that is as heart wrenching as any in rock, Nicks dedicated it to the Eagles’ Glenn Frey.
“I’d like to dedicate that song to Glenn Frey, who was my friend,” Nicks said. “And I’d like to dedicate it to his son, who did such a beautiful job last night under so much pressure. That was for big Glenn and little Glenn.”
She explained that she waited until after the song because had she dedicated it before the performance she would have started crying and never made it through “Landslide.”
Buckingham also opened up, before the song “Bleed to Love Her,” reflecting on Fleetwood Mac,” who he called, “A band of contradictions.” But he said ultimately there is a lot of love between the five band members. “Through all the difficulties we wouldn’t still be here if there weren’t a great deal of love.”
McVie echoed that sentiment when she dedicated “Everywhere” to the four musicians – Buckingham, Nicks, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood – that make up Fleetwood Mac alongside her.
So yes, there was still a healthy dose of feeling in night two of Classic West at Dodger Stadium. But without all the questions and drama that inherently came with the Eagles first performance without Glenn Frey and possible last L.A. show, Fleetwood Mac’s two-hour set was more about the music. And only a handful of bands in the annals of rock can deliver the kind of versatility and musicianship the Mac can offer.
Whether it was the Nicks-fronted “Gold Dust Woman,” Buckingham’s astonishing acoustic work on “Big Love,” Christine McVie’s engaging “Tell Me Lies” or the mysterious passion of Nicks’ signature “Rhiannon,” the band provided highlight after highlight. As has become the case in recent Mac tours though, the night’s most jaw-dropping moment comes courtesy of Buckingham’s mind-altering guitar work in “I’m So Afraid.” With Buckingham and the crowd feeding off each other the solo builds to a fevered crescendo that is certainly on the short list for the single most electrifying moment in rock today.
The night ended with fireworks going off over Dodger Stadium as the band wrapped up a nearly flawless performance, save for one or two technical glitches. It was a fitting way to end what felt like a coronation, one reminding the Mac’s status as one of rock’s truly seminal acts.