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Fleetwood Mac takes the Verizon Center back to 1975

By AMANDA AUBLE | November 6, 2014

Legendary rock group Fleetwood Mac proved its timelessness and endurance as the band’s Halloween performance transported its Washington D.C. audience back to 1975.

After spending 16 years apart, this latest tour reunites the entire classic lineup, which consists of drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, ethereal vocalist Stevie Nicks and keyboardist Christine McVie. Titled “On with the Show,” the band’s tour began on Sept. 30 and will hit 33 North American cities.

Although the Washington D.C. performance fell on Halloween, the only costume discernable in the packed Verizon Center was Nicks’s signature stage attire: Black, flowing dresses, lace shawls, tambourines and top hats.

The varying ages of the concert attendees stood as a testament to the band’s cross-generational appeal. A majority of those present had most likely grown up with Fleetwood Mac, witnessing the release of eponymous Fleetwood Mac (1975) and smash album Rumours (1977), which won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1978.

Now one of the best selling albums of all time, with over 45 million copies sold, Rumours is also accepted and respected by younger generations. The notable number of twenty- and thirty-somethings in attendance most likely heard the band’s classic songs on the radio and possibly even saw Nicks’s image revived on the last season of popular television show American Horror Story: Coven.

Arriving on stage to thunderous applause, Fleetwood Mac began their performance with “The Chain,” the only song on Rumours with writing credits given to all five band members.

When the song began, Buckingham’s legendary, plucking guitar work, Fleetwood and McVie’s steady rhythm section and Nicks’s flawless harmonies instantly felt untouched by time. The song’s lyrics “I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain,” and the repeated final refrain, “Chain, keep us together,” set the tone for the evening as the band recreated their turbulent yet persistent relationship.

Fleetwood Mac is no stranger to a constantly shifting lineup and internal turmoil. Originally starting in London, Fleetwood and John McVie — whose names give the band its title — formed the group in 1967. Christine McVie joined the group in 1970 while married to John. Buckingham and Nicks, a package deal after recording their own self-titled album, joined in 1975.

The members’ dynamic produced a straining but also highly inspirational tension. In fact, most of the acclaimed tracks on Rumours resulted from the complicated feelings generated by the band’s various deteriorating relationships: the McVies’ divorce as well as Nicks and Buckingham’s romantic split.

However, despite an emotional past, the band’s new tour has a reconciled, rejuvenated feel. Instead of past performances during the height of its career that provided a soap opera-esque dramatic element, the band radiates a much calmer and more settled energy.

“With [Christine McVie’s] return, we begin a profound, beautiful and prolific new chapter in the history of this band called Fleetwood Mac,” Buckingham announced to roaring applause.

The band highlighted her return, as the second song was her hit single “Say You Love Me.” In 1998, McVie peacefully retired from the band and sat out for its 2009 and 2013 tours.

Despite this long departure, Christine McVie’s songs, like “You Make Loving Fun” and “Over My Head,” remain upbeat, lighter additions to the group’s sound, and her voice shows little wear. Nicks commented on the return by asking McVie where she’d been, but she mainly focused on the fact that McVie’s energy returned to the group.

Nicks, rightly deemed “The Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll” by Rolling Stone, displayed the night’s most authentic performances. Although her voice does not always radiate the same youthful, powerful passion as it used to, when she performed the haunting and vigorously building “Rhiannon,” Nicks maintains an impressive vocal range. Rigid and raspy, yet romantic and harmonizing, her voice now demonstrates a mature control.

These refined vocals were highlighted on Nicks’s “Landslide,” which she wrote while feeling doubt and uncertainty after the failure of Buckingham Nicks (1973). Eliciting strong emotional responses from her various audiences, Nicks has deemed “Landslide” her “dedication song.” During her performance at the Verizon Center, Nicks chose to dedicate the piece to a fan named Michael and his cause to aid veterans.

“I want to take this moment to tell you all to donate some money to the Wounded Warriors Foundation,” Nicks said. “This is Washington, D.C., so help those guys out and send some money in. Michael, thank you for being here tonight. This is ‘Landslide.’”

Fans sang along to the relatable, vulnerable lyrics as Nicks stood in front of a sparkling light show. Throughout the night, the screen behind the band served to complement their music with mood-matching colors and visuals like an animated romance during “Gypsy.”

Nicks, famous for generating an image as a dreamy witch and a rocking frontwoman, displayed a bit of her famous enchanting presence during “Gold Dust Woman.” Emerging in a gold, glittering shawl, Nicks shook, twirled and danced across the stage during Buckingham’s guitar solo. Constrained only by her age, Nicks delivered an unparalleled stage presence.

Nicks also shared a personal story before performing “Gypsy,” taking the audience back to the ‘70s. Before gaining any recognition with Fleetwood Mac, Nicks described the powerful feelings she felt entering a downtown San Francisco store known as the Velvet Underground — which she refers to in the song’s lyric: “So I’m back to the velvet underground.”

According to Nicks, all the famous women singers and musicians bought their clothes at this store. Standing on the heavy hardwood floor, she felt like one day she would be able to afford the beautiful clothes. Using this story as an example, Nicks then encouraged the audience to follow that same feeling and devote their lives to their passion.

“Live it,” Nicks said. “Be it.”

In today’s fashion and culture, the iconic Stevie Nicks image has found new life. After her performance of “Seven Wonders,” a once lesser-known song from Tango in the Night (1987), Nicks mentioned her thanks to FX series American Horror Story: Coven for reviving the track. Nicks performed “Seven Wonders” on the show’s season finale, causing the song to reach No. 18 on Billboard’s “Digital Rock Songs” chart.

Nicks herself is already an eight-time Grammy Award nominee for her solo career, which she maintained while still a dedicated member of Fleetwood Mac. A prolific songwriter, she recently revisited her earliest 1969 writings in her newest album, 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault.

In an equally passionate performance that evening, Lindsey Buckingham maintained extremely high energy levels while performing complex guitar solos. Jumping and striding across the Verizon Center stage while also nailing riffs, Buckingham seems perhaps more vigorous than before. He even ended songs with the hard stamp of his foot.

Throughout the performance, Buckingham took time to talk to the audience. There were some moments of deep reflection on the group, and his drive to share seemed to be authentic.

The band chose to end the night with a strong performance of Buckingham’s “Go Your Own Way.” Fleetwood Mac left the audience to deal with the aftermath of such fast paced, ardent energy. But, like always, the five members gravitated back to the stage, giving the audience a two-song encore.

In an astounding return to the stage, Fleetwood Mac perfectly recaptured its classic sound and image. Fleetwood Mac will be heading to Canada for its next few performances and recently announced a second leg of its tour, which has added at least 28 shows and will start on Jan. 16, 2015 in St. Paul, Minn.

Courtesy of AMANDA AUBLE

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