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Jun 05, 2003 at 12:00 AM

Birmingham Weekly, June 5, 2003 

 Fleetwood Mac returns to the Civic Center June 5th. The last time I remember them playing that concrete cavern, the sound was so abysmal one could scarcely tell Stevie from Lindsay, but the crowd was heedless because the band, touring behind its bazillion-selling albums of the Seventies, was at the pinnacle of rockdom.

A couple of decades down the pike, things have changed. There's a lot more of Stevie to love, there's one less McVie and the new CD is selling considerably less than a bazillion units. However, I'll warrant the show Thursday next will be a good one, simply because Buckingham and Nicks will be back in the Magic City.

Lindsay and Stevie cut an album in 1973 that never found a mass audience, although it contains the very essence of what revived the Mac when they joined that band: crystalline harmony, precision guitar picking and the timeless dynamics of love and loss propelling their music like ocean tides.

Buckingham Nicks was famously ignored throughout the nation, save in three or four cities where deejays played the grooves off every cut. Birmingham was one of those cities, and the patronage of WJLN -- anyone remember Father Tree? -- helped persuade the duo to leave the shelter of L. A. and travel all the way to Alabama to perform.

I got to listen to an artyfact of that era the other day; a soundboard recording of Buckingham Nicks in Tuscaloosa, January, 1974 or so. "This next song is a brand-new song," Stevie purred. "It's called "Rhiannon", which is a Welsh female name. I got it out of a book about a lady with two personalities and it was so fascinating I just had to write it." As an afterthought, she added, "And don't play too fast."

With a sure hand and no studio tricks, Lindsay pulled the by-now-iconic opening out of the silence and a little combo spun the melody like a web across the auditorium. We who are listening now nod in recognition of potential becoming kinetic. When Stevie reaches for a note and misses, someone in the room mutters, "I love that -- it's Like Tiger Woods hitting one into the rough."

Stevie Nicks has always played at being a witchy woman, but when she and Lindsay Buckingham perform together, there is always the chance that serious magic might break out. The well-heeled are urged to find out for themselves next Thursday night.

Oh, I mentioned that things have changed. One thing hasn't: the sound at the Civic Center is still gonna suck.

 
 
   
 
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