Fleetwood Mac 2018 Tour – San Jose
Unedited Concert Review
If there was any doubt Fleetwood Mac could pull off another great concert tour without their original lead guitarist, Lindsey Buckingham, I can tell you now, there is no doubt, they can and they did. When the newly assembled group including the original four of five members plus two high powered additions, Neil Finn of Crowded House and Mike Campbell of Tom Petty, took the stage and fired out “The Chain” with as much power as previous years, I knew we were in for a good night.
From where I sat, the group seemed to gel. Without ever auditioning, the two new members – likely chosen based on previous experience playing with members of the group, and obvious talent – did their part to make the audience forget all about Lindsay Buckingham.
Christine McVie turned seventy-five this year, Mick Fleetwood is seventy-one, John McVie is seventy-two, and Stevie is seventy. Pardon me for saying this, but they’re getting pretty long in the tooth for the kind of rigor required for a touring rock band. Their schedule is arduous, crisscrossing the nation with only two to three days between shows. San Jose – Sacramento – Oakland – Phoenix – Las Vegas – Denver – Fresno – San Diego – Inglewood – Denver – Sioux Falls – Houston – Dallas – Austin – Birmingham – New Orleans – Tampa – Fort Lauderdale – Columbia – Charlotte – Nashville. And, that’s only half the tour.
All I can say is you couldn’t tell anyone was worse for the wear. Christine’s Tell Me Lies still sounds crystal clear and provides a nice mood shift from some of the darker numbers which I love the most but appreciate we need variety.
Sure, we missed Lindsey Buckingham, but we’re also tired of him bailing on Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks and us. It’s not the first concert tour he’s missed for reasons usually having to do with him getting mad at Stevie over something she did or didn’t say. This song line seems fitting to describe how the Fleetwood Mac world turns: “Maybe I’m wrong, but who’s to say what’s right?” All I know is, he’s the one who didn’t show up.
Lindsey’s substitutes were great. Neil Finn of Crowded House (and Split Enz) sang his hallmark song, “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, one of the five best songs ever written according to Mick Fleetwood.
Mike Campbell from Tom Petty played guitar like he played the crowd – intense and flirtatious. He is a showman that one. Another thing I’ll say for him is that Mike knows how to make young girls who idolize the group feel seen – see story later in this article about the flower halo. Mike’s our new Queen, and I mean that in the most respectful way.
Say what you want about 70’s diva’s, but you have to give them credit for keeping it going for over fifty years. They still got it and they can still rock it!
The multi-generational appeal of Fleetwood Mac caught me pleasantly by surprise. Standing in line for a Blue Moon, I mentioned to the young woman in front of me that I wished the stadium had video monitors so we wouldn’t have to miss a number to buy a T-shirt or snack (it’s okay it was during the drum solo – sorry Mick!). Maybe she was in her twenties, not more than thirty. She looked at me and said, “at least it’s not Landslide”. Landslide is my favorite Stevie Nicks’s song. I couldn’t hide my surprise and, I have to admit feeling instantly bonded with the young woman. Yeah sure, we were at a Fleetwood Mac concert, but still. Not long after that chance meeting and I found my way back to my seat, Stevie sang my favorite song, Landslide. “The song makes no sense,” Stevie says. Maybe the reason for its broad appeal is that it means something different to each one of us.
The second surprise happened when the veteran Queen of Rock lost her key mid-song and asked Neil for assistance. Neil came to the rescue as did the ever supportive crowd. Stevie admitted to still getting nervous singing for people she loves. San Jose State, down the street from SAP Center, is Stevie’s, Alma Mater. I don’t think she graduated but she studied communications while also rehearsing with her first band at the College of San Mateo. Cool to know we are in Stevie Nicks’ old stomping grounds.
This might be a good time to mention the bottle cap rule at SAP Center. Apparently, plastic bottle caps are lethal weapons and need to be removed from water bottles before giving the water to the purchaser. In this way, water is spilled on the way back to your seat and every time someone walks past your seat on the way to theirs. No offense intended to anyone who has actually been injured by a plastic bottle cap. I might consider bringing along a spare next time I go to a concert. We lost almost our entire bottle of water due to cap-lessness spills and kick-overs.
A quiet moment with Neil and John.
I felt the heart pulse in the auditorium during the tribute to Tom Petty. Stevie sang his song “Free Falling”, while they showed vintage pictures of her, Tom and Mike playing together. His absence from the earth is still so new. Is he really gone? Only his body. His spirit was at SAP Center last Wednesday night.
Reaching back in the annals of time, it turns out Fleetwood Mac wrote a song made famous by Santana, “Black Magic Woman”. Stevie took this number on with the gusto of a jazz lounge singer. A testament to her versatility and love for all things music.
On a less positive note. I really hope my following observation of a star blowing-off a young fan is not accurate, but I fear it really happened this way.
Here’s the story of the flower halo.
A young girl’s delicate arm reached out in a perfect straight-line beckoning for Stevie to take a yellow flower halo she had brought for the Queen of Rock and Roll. The Band was on their way off the stage for their first exit before the encore. From where I sat in the second row, the right of center and near Stevie’s microphone, I thought I caught the star’s eye. I point to the young girl who had chosen to celebrate her eighteenth birthday with her mother at the concert. “Stevie!” I yell. I think I see her nod which I take to mean “I’ll get it in a minute”. I was wrong. Stevie Nicks walked off stage without accepting the young girl’s carefully prepared, hand-delivered from L.A. crown of flowers. Here’s when Mike Campbell became our new Queen (again with the utmost respect do I say this). He came from stage left, saw the halo, and walked up to the sweet girl holding it in her outstretched arm. Mike says, “Is this for her?” He graciously takes the halo. We’ll never know why Stevie wouldn’t take the gift. The girl, the girl’s mother, and I believe Stevie saw it and chose to walk away. Nervous about it, maybe?
End of the sad part of the story.
Never to let a moment pass without an extravagant gesture, Mick Fleetwood ends the show with a series of thank yous and grand motions he rarely gets to do from behind his massive drum set.
See you next time Mick!