Fleetwood Mac make grand return in Madison Square Garden performance

By E.R. Pulgar

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Since 1998, when crucial member Christine McVie retired, Fleetwood Mac has been performing at less-than-full capacity. Despite October 6 only being the fourth show since McVie’s official return, the band is gelling like she never left. Appropriately, the concert opened with “The Chain,” Fleetwood Mac’s famous ode to bonds that cannot be broken.

With McVie back in the fold, Fleetwood Mac could make use of their full repertoire. With classics headed by McVie such as “Over My Head” and “Little Lies” back in the setlist, Nicks no longer has the weight of the band on her shoulders and Lindsey Buckingham can focus his energy on playing guitar, devouring his solos during “I’m So Afraid” and “Big Love” with gusto. McVie was the missing ingredient from Fleetwood Mac’s trademark harmonies, her warm contralto a fitting foil for Buckingham’s gravelly voice and Nicks’ versatile dramatic tone.

Throughout the night, with the exception of the notoriously taciturn John McVie, the band interacted with the audience, whether to explain the story behind a song or to rile them up. The McVies shared a tender moment remembering their past when Christine introduced “Say You Love Me.” Even John, quick to shy away from attention, let himself grin.

Naturally, the band played the hits they’ve relied on for years — “Rhiannon,” “Never Going Back Again,” and “Dreams,” among others. They also managed to squeeze in “Seven Wonders,” an obscure song from 1987’s “Tango in the Night,” which has achieved a second wind due to its use in “American Horror Story,” which Nicks duly pointed out.

As expected, reliable showstopper “Landslide,” Nicks’ solo with her ex-lover Buckingham on guitar, is still as breathtaking as it always is, achieving more poignancy as the two grow older. Much like McVie, who at 71 can still hit her high notes, Nicks’ voice remains in top shape.

After an explosive rendition of “Go Your Own Way,” the encores began with an extended drum solo by Mick Fleetwood, who constantly asked the crowd, “Are you with me?” to fervent response.

From there, they launched into “World Turning” and “Don’t Stop,” two songs made complete by McVie’s voice. “Silver Springs,” Nicks’ final song of the night on lead, proved the performance’s dramatic high point, as she sang directly to Buckingham, “You will never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you.”

Nicks and Buckingham have been playing star-crossed lovers for years, and Nicks’ emotional delivery makes you wonder if there isn’t still a sliver of pain behind her words.

Just as the crowd was ready to leave, a piano was rolled onstage, and the prodigal McVie launched into her signature song, “Songbird.” The crowd of rowdy fans went still, and Buckingham quietly joined in on guitar halfway through. It was appropriate to give McVie the last word, and it proved the night’s most stunning moment.

Nicks ended the night with her usual farewell, proclaiming, to uproarious applause, “We have our dream girl back!” With McVie’s recent inclusion, the dream team has made its long-awaited return as a whole: the Mac is most definitely back.

E.R. Pulgar is a contributing writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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