In order to see Fleetwood Mac at The Forum on Friday night, I had to give up my New Year’s Eve so that someone else would cover my shift on short notice at my full-time job. After seeing them play nearly three hours on the first of two nights at The Forum, I can say that I made the right choice and that I have zero regrets.
This was the first time since the original lineup played in Los Angeles together in years. Mick Fleetwood (drums), John McVie (bass), Stevie Nicks (vocals), Lindsey Buckingham (lead guitar), and — for the first time since 1998, Christine McVie on the keyboards. They had some help by a talented group of backup musicians, but this was who everyone came to see and they didn’t fail to deliver.
Playing more than two dozen of their greatest hits, it was when McVie’s vocals kicked off “You Make Loving Fun” in the second song of the night that the reunion show felt fully on as the crowd rose to their feet and gave a mini-standing ovation. Throughout the night, the other members of the band commemorated what it meant to them to have the talented singer-songwriter back with the group, and it was clear it meant just as much to the packed house in Inglewood.
Everyone brought their A-games, and Nicks and McVie especially sounded just as good as ever. Though Buckingham’s voice seemed a tad bit withered — perhaps from being the member of the band who maintained the highest level of activity over the past four decades — his guitar-prowess was not hindered one bit. Almost every song showcased Buckingham’s ability to deliver a spine-tingling solo, something he still does as good as anyone in the business. Buckingham’s charisma on stage was met in full force by the rest of the band, quite a feat when you consider Fleetwood Mac has existed for about half a century.
Nicks’ vocal prowess was at the forefront starting with “Rhiannon”, but each member of the band alternated turns commanding the spotlight. Each had at least one song that felt personally dedicated to the Los Angeles crowd, and each of the original members minus John McVie delivered heartfelt speeches, something that didn’t slow down the pace of the show and also put into perspective just how meaningful this tour was to the band.
Buckingham was on the stage by himself for two songs, one being the finger-picking jam “Big Love”, in which it is becomes quite a wonder that the 65-year old Buckingham doesn’t have severe arthritis.
One highlight was Nicks saying how a certain song had pretty much been the song throughout her career that she would personally dedicate to someone during the show and how it is interesting how one song can maintain so much meaning through everything. She was then joined by Buckingham in playing “Landslide”, a song she chose to dedicate her “fairy god daughters” as she referred to them.
I didn’t fully realize just how many hits this all-time great iconic band had until — one after another — they kept playing them. Nicks remarked after “Seven Wonders” how appreciative she was of the show American Horror Story for giving it new life more than two decades after it appeared on the 1987 album Tango in the Night. McVie’s electrifying keyboards that begin that song gave me and many others goosebumps.
Though some bands from the ’60s and ’70s have a hard time sticking with the times, it is quite apparent that Fleetwood Mac’s music is transcendent beyond the time their music first came along. It was more evident in the makeup of the crowd. Certainly, there were a large number of people who grew up on the band, but there was also a sizable portion of people like myself who couldn’t have possibly been born or cognizant during the meat of their run as one of the top touring bands in the world with their original lineup.
Nicks then told a story about being a young girl in San Francisco, touring with the band in support of some of the biggest acts in the world (Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Janis Joplin, and many others) and how she went to this place where all the rock ‘n roll women bought their stage outfits called The Velvet Underground. She said she remembers walking in and thinking there was no way she could afford any of it but she said she had an epiphany and that she was her future with the band in that place and it turned into a speech about how you should always believe in yourself and to not let anyone tell you what you can’t accomplish. You can’t possibly argue with the results Nicks achieved, and then the band played “Gypsy”, the song the two girls sitting to the left of me had been waiting for all night.
The band followed that jam up with “Little Lies”, the song that featured a perfect harmonization of McVie, Nicks, and Buckingham on vocals with McVie on the lead. A few songs later, the band closed out the first part of their set with “Go Your Own Way”, personally one of my favorite songs of all-time. Buckingham’s vocals were fantastic on this one, as were Nicks’ in support. Buckingham’s guitar solo spanned the distance of the large Forum stage as he and McVie shared a moment of pure bliss towards the end of the song. Buckingham even let a couple of fans get a few strums in on his guitar during the solo, a moment I’m sure they won’t forget as long as they live.
But Fleetwood Mac wasn’t done yet. Mick Fleetwood got his moment in the sun during the encore with an amazing drum solo during “World Turning”. The band played one of their bigger hits “Don’t Stop” before closing out their first encore with “Silver Springs”. It would be the last song of the night the band would be all on stage together.
For the final encore, it was only fitting that McVie take the spotlight with Buckingham as the two played the beautiful love ballad “Songbird”.
Following the final song, Nicks came out on stage and thanked the crowd profusely for all their support and for their constant wishes that Christine McVie would rejoin the band. She basically pointed it to some cosmic event that the fans made happen and how she couldn’t believe when McVie called her up one day asking what she thought about her coming back to the band. Mick Fleetwood came out afterwards with two extremely young daughters of his and did his part to thank the crowd for a memorable night.
Their Friday night performance certainly topped any possible New Year’s Eve plans I could’ve had and it was my first chance to really see a legendary rock band play their own gig. In the vein of it being the day after Thanksgiving, I shared deeply the thanks that the band had for what was an amazing performance.
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Photography: Wes Marsala