LONG ISLAND, N.Y. -- Something has happened to Fleetwood Mac. The years between their tension-filled, romantic and professional dissolution have done wonders for their hearts, not to mention their libidos.
If I didn't know any better, I'd say they're in lust again.
A year ago, Fleetwood Mac would not have had to worry about saturation, or rock sexuality, for that matter. That was before "The Dance" in its many enormously successful incarnations: #1 album, #1 videocassette, and -- most conspicuously -- an endlessly repeated concert special on MTV and VH1. I'm talking ENDLESSLY!
In some ways, it’s been nice to see this venerable group enjoying a degree of success after some dry years and some less than memorable incarnations, and attempts at remaking the music that once made them the biggest band in the land. But, paradoxically, the ubiquitousness of the Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac in all forms of media these days dimmed expectations a little for the actual live show.
After all, we've seen it already on TV just last week. Right? And the new album isn't really all that new -- just four new songs, padded with some of their alternate versions of their classic tunes.
Well, the fourth show of the reunion tour, at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island, N.Y. Tuesday night, was a bit predictable, but the renewed vitality, or more specifically, erotic energy of the band that has been clearly demonstrated on TV was even more electrifying in person.
First you had to get by the fact that if you saw "The Dance" special, you knew the score: powerful opening with "The Chain," Stevie Nicks takes center stage for "Dreams," Christine McVie does a ditty, etc. Oh, and most annoyingly, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham unfortunately chose to repeat his deep thoughts about this "coming together" nearly verbatim from the CD and video. Ugh. There's nothing worse than false profundity. Buckingham incorrectly introducing his new song "My Little Demon" before the band was set to play "You Make Loving Fun" was refreshing, since it prompted his first unscripted comments of the evening.
But this is all beside the point. This 30-year-old band, known at its height for its various intra-group romantic entanglements, has finally found a way to convey all that submerged passion to the audience. Passion, even sex -- at a level you'd expect of a show by the Mac's fall tour competitors The Rolling Stones -- was a running theme throughout the night. These ex-lovers of the '70s are in heat about something. One can only hope it's the music. They are connecting as a band more than ever before, maybe because they've reportedly ironed out their personal differences?
Buckingham in particular was coitus personified. His riveting "I'm So Afraid" early in the set left the mostly thirtysomething crowd panting in excitement. His body was writhing as if in orgasm as he soloed to ear-shattering heights. He played the very top of the neck of his guitar, manipulating it like a phallus as he moved through a series of facial contortions that would make Jagger proud.
His acoustic "Big Love," performed alone, had Buckingham moaning in pain and delight as he nearly duplicated the recording's overdubbed love grunts. The audience was riveted.
Meanwhile, Buckingham's chemistry with ex-paramour Nicks was so palpable it was almost as if everyone else on stage and off was intruding. They stared intensely at each other, singing the suggestive lyrics to the Rumours-opener "Second Hand News" (... "Won't you lay me down in the tall grass and let me do my stuff..."). "Silver Springs," the current Nicks-written single, began reflectively, but culminated in Nicks screaming the words, "You'll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you," which were written for Buckingham, directly at him.
These two kissed and embraced quite a few times during the 2 1/2 hour set, most movingly after the romantic "Landslide," which they performed alone
and which had groups of the audience also hugging and swaying together like one big corny love-in. Buckingham and Nicks seemed glued to one another. Someone please get these two a room, I thought.
And the sexuality didn't stop there. Buckingham literally moaned the chorus to the Tusk-rocker "Not That Funny" (... "don't make me wait ...") and the song segued into Mick Fleetwood's pounding drum solo, if you can call it that. Continuing the sexual motif, Fleetwood left the drum kit and stood up to play his chest and lower regions (which were adorned with drum pads wired to the amps) while his trademark "balls" dangled from his groin. He's done this in concerts before, but never with such seeming erotic pleasure. It could be described as a sort of masturbation for the masses, and the crowd ate it up, so to speak.
Ironically, it was Nicks, the '70s sex-symbol goddess, who underplayed her sexuality. But her signature songs ("Rhiannon," "Gold Dust Woman" and "Gypsy") contained moments of high drama and were the clear crowd favorites. In fact, each time one of her tunes was recognized, everyone on the floor leaped to their feet. Only during her mellow new song, the autobiographical
"Sweet Girl," did they remain seated.
In contrast with their bandmates, Christine and John McVie, the other once loving couple, showed little emotion, choosing instead to focus on the songs. But they didn't need to do anything as "Tusk" and "Go Your Own Way," the closing numbers, turned the Coliseum into one big orgy of singalong. Then, seemingly sated, the crowd settled back for the encores, appropriately flicking on their lighters.
Strangely, as the band members kissed each other and waved lovingly to the audience later that night, I was overcome by the urge to have a smoke. And I quit years ago. [Fri., Sept. 26, 1997, 9 a.m. PDT]