Tag Archives: lindsay buckingham

Finn Leads the new Mac Attack!

Fleetwood Mac is one of the most popular and successful bands of the last four decades. Their mega-hit albums Fleetwood Mac (1975), Rumors (1977), their masterpiece, Tusk (1979), and follow-up Mirage (1982) were staples of the FM airwaves in Southern California where I grew up. Each member of the band came with a public persona that seemed real, not something manufactured by the music press, where they appeared frequently. Many of my friends hung their posters, and followed their exploits closely, particularly due to their very personal, confessional lyrics and their appeal as representatives of who we were at that point in the 70’s.

FinnMac Classic Lineup

While the band began life as a British blues act in 1967, numerous personnel changes resulted in a cross-pond partnership of both British and American musicians that together had global appeal. Peter Green, Bob Welch, Danny Kirwan – many guitarists and members rotated in and out of this ever-changing band in the early years. In 1975, desperate to save the band after many drug and alcohol fueled hard times, core members Mick Fleetwood (drums), John McVie (bass) and his wife Christine McVie (keyboards, vocals) recruited Lindsey Buckingham (guitar, vocals) and his then girlfriend Stevie Nicks (vocals) to join the already well-honed trio. There had already been nine Fleetwood Mac albums. The rest as they say is history. Or is it?

FinnMac Lindsay 2014

The Mac continued to release material and tour on and off again with or without Lindsay and Christine though to 2015. We saw them with the entire classic lineup and that I assumed would be the last time.

FinnMac Classic Band 2014

Then several things apparently happened, which led to the sacking of Lindsay Buckingham last week:

  • Lindsay reports that the Mac will record a new album for 2015, and stage a last tour (yeah, right!)
  • Stevie reports that she is reluctant to work on new material, lest it cloud memories of the old, and why do it anyway?
  • Lindsay/Christine report that they recorded many songs, none of them with Stevie.
  • Lindsay / Christine release an album and tour in 2017, just last year!
  • In 2018, in April it is announced that Lindsay has been “sacked” from the group, and the next tour due planned to kick off this year (2018). The reason given – arguments of the set list (the set list, really?!?!)
  • It is joyfully announced by the way that Split Enz / Crowded House / solo genius from down under, Neil Finn will join the band for the new tour, and will be accompanied by Mike Campbell of Tom Petty fame!!!!

For many fans this will erroneously be considered bad news. The Mac without Lindsay, didn’t they try that after Tango in the Night, to disastrous results?

FinnMac Stevie 2014

FinnMac Neil Finn Early ShotYes, and no. Well at least, they did not have the new secret weapon – they did not fill the guitarist/singer role with a star or stars adequate to the task. Enter Neil Finn, who is easily the greatest musician, along with brother Tim, to work in and outside of New Zealand…. basically ever. I would consider them The Beatles of ANZ. Neil’s work is not nearly as well known as the Mac. Neither Split Enz, Crowded House, Finn, nor Neil Finn played to stadiums outside ANZ to my knowledge. Here in the states, the typical venues for anything Neil Finn would fit 2,500-5,000 patrons. No “sheds,” basketball arenas or much less stadiums for the genius from down under. It’s the same story for his brother Tim Finn, the greatest tenor vocalist of the 80’s.

All that will change for Neil with the Mac, as long as the publicity is done right and they get fans to the shows. Here it will likely be the Oracle or SAP arenas, particularly if fans “get it” and the publicity is well handled – that is important. So far, there are good words coming out of the camp, with some expressions of excitement.

FinnMac Neil Finn

But listen people – this should not be hard — Neil Finn is a major songwriter, vocal talent, and in fact an amazing guitarist. If all you know from him is “I Got You,” or “One Step Ahead” with his brother in the Enz, or “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and “Something So Strong” from the debut Crowded House album, you are sadly out of touch with this, one of the world’s greatest songwriting and performing talents – you have some catching up to do! Try Crowded House albums Together Alone(1993) and incredibly, the more recent Intriguer(2010). How about his solo work, Try Whistling This, it is achingly gorgeous. Compare the newer Housesong “Amsterdam” to anything off the new Buckingham/McVie album, as pleasant as it is, and it is a stellar album by the way. But again, check it against new lead man Neil Finn, and hear the difference.

You can easily imagine, if your ears are tuned, Neil will clearly grace anything the band wants to do which covers Buckingham, Green, Welch or any of the talented crew that have joined and left the Mac’s lineup. Reportedly, unshackled by a picky approach to the set list, there will be surprises. Why not go back and do “Hypnotized” along with other early gems? Finn can nail all of them.

FinnMac Christine

Now, add to this that we are not only getting Neil Finn. On top of that we will have Mike Campbell, the long time guitarist from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Anyone who saw Tom perform, rest his dear soul, knows what an amazing lead player Mike is. Now this is getting exciting, concert fans.

See this lineup – maybe the last you say? No, more likely just another chapter. But, the Mac lives on, above and below the equator, and we are all better for it.

p.s. fans of all things Lindsay, of course he will do a solo tour, so…. peace.

FinnMac Lindsay Roots

Fleetwood Mac Go On With The Show

Christine McVie
Christine McVie

Fleetwood Mac rolled into the Oakland Arena on December 3, 2014. The headline for this tour is “On With The Show” featuring the return of Christine McVie – singer, songwriter and keyboard player who left the band to retire some 16 years ago. The audience greeted her with rapturous applause, and after the opening track “The Chain” the band launched directly into one of her best, “You Make Loving Fun.” It was wonderful to hear the band whole again, back to their 1975 lineup, which endured for so many years producing mega hits on the albums “Fleetwood Mac” (1975) through Tango in the Night (1987).

FM_christinebackFor their set list, the band focused on their hits, which has been the norm for the last several tours. As such, the addition of Christine’s tracks “You Make Loving Fun,” “Everywhere,” “Say You Love Me,” “Over My Head,” “Little Lies,” and as the second encore, a beautiful rendition of “Songbird,” with her on grand piano, front and center, helped to freshen the set list.

Mac's Songbird

The rest of the song selections alternated between Stevie and Lindsey’s lead vocal tracks, all of which they have been featuring since 1998. My only wish would be for the band to pull out some more rare tracks, such as “Warm Ways,” “I Don’t Want to Know” or one of Christine’s tracks from Tusk, particularly “Brown Eyes.” I half expected they might pull out “Hypnotized” to pay tribute to Bob Welch who passed away in 2012, but not so. Having said all that, it’s understandable that they focused on their most reliable hits and crowd pleasers, now that they are five once more.

Lindsay Fingerpicking
Lindsay Fingerpicking

The lighting and staging for the show was top notch – the latest in movable screen panels and track lighting used to enrich the events on stage. The main feature was the huge hi-def projection system that filled the screen behind the risers, used for imagery that matched and accentuated the songs, and then also used for closed circuit video of the band in performance. This was particularly effective in capturing the band member’s skills and techniques with live close-ups of their playing.

FM_lindsayafraidAnd what a musical, lyrical performance it was. Lindsey was in top form with his amazing, dexterous fingerpicking style, the likes of which I’ve never seen from any other rock guitarist. Perennial favorites including the explosive acoustic guitar on “Big Love” or the rockin’ blues attack on “I’m So Afraid” fully displayed his remarkable skills and pliant voice. Stevie sounded as good as I’ve heard her, nailing classics like “Sisters of the Moon” and “Landslide” whether the phrase was soft or forceful. Christine sounded great and again made a big difference in the overall sound. Her backing vocals were also quite noticeable on the other songs that featured one of her band mates on lead vocals.

Stevie's Gypsy
Stevie’s Gypsy

What was really noticeable was how personable the band members were. Time was taken between tracks for some fun stories – the longest being Stevie’s intro to “Gypsy” during which she encouraged the audience to follow their dreams. She talked about how she and Lindsey got their start in the bay area, poor but working hard, and described the San Francisco shop “Velvet Underground” with it’s beautiful painted floor and stacks of rock frocks, where all the stars of the era like Janis Joplin, Grace Slick and others shopped for their stage clothing. The already potent lyrics were made more meaningful by the intro:

So I’m back to the velvet underground
Back to the floor that I love
To a room with some lace and paper flowers
Back to the gypsy that I was to the gypsy that I was

FM_fleetwoodThis is the stuff from which great live shows are made, and we got a bit from Christine and Lindsay as well, and at the end of the show receiving another heartfelt sendoff from Stevie and a final farewell from drummer Mick Fleetwood with his characteristic “The Mac is Back!” Indeed, they are.