Los Angeles Times, June 11, 1990


Fleetwood Mac Dwells on the Past

by Chris Willman

"Don't stop thinking about tomorrow

Don't stop, it'll soon be here

It'll be, better than before

Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone . . ."

Oh?

With its current tour, Fleetwood Mac finally takes its long-delayed place as an unofficial nostalgia act, lumbering happily and fairly gracefully into dinosaurland. Yesterday is their tomorrow.

Given that Fleetwood Mac has been around in some form for nearly a quarter-century, perhaps it's fortuitous that the fossilization was forestalled as long as it was, with journeyman guitarist Lindsey Buckingham around to act as the band's ornery conscience until three years ago.

Now that he's out of the picture, the act has loosened up considerably, and the group seemed to take itself less seriously in its Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre concert on Friday. There was less artistic posturing involved, and a lot less art.

The sold-out crowd, for its part, appeared delighted with the retrospective bent of the show, which focuses on the contributions of Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie over the last 15 years--with no fewer than seven choices from the 1977 mega-seller "Rumours." Even the two latest additions to the outfit, guitarists Billy Burnette and Rick Vito, served mostly to add to the general aura of nostalgia, as they expertly reprised three vintage bluesy numbers from Fleetwood Mac's distant, late-'60s era, as well as Buckingham's parts.

The group does have a new album--the uneven "Behind the Mask"--but either they're not all that proud of it or they've taken its early descent on the charts as a sign of audience disinterest.

Those equally backward-looking Rolling Stones at least rolled out three new songs per night on their last trip through the past darkly; Mac managed a meager two new selections, during a not inconsiderable two hours and 15 minutes of stage time. (Those two choices, McVie's "Save Me" and Vito's "Stand on the Rock," aren't even among the new album's finer moments, let alone the band's.)

Technically, the band remains in decent enough shape. Nicks is always the wild card in concert, but her voice--if not capable of most of the high notes--sounded less ravaged this time than it has in other appearances in recent years.

McVie brings even potentially gooey material to loving life with the same static tenderness she always has, and seemed to be having fun playing a raucous piano on the old blues outings that have been reintroduced this tour.

Burnette and Vito can't be faulted for doing their job, which they do well, but it's hard not to take a cynical view of why they were chosen to replace Buckingham: They reproduce his parts closely but not so precisely that they're going to invite derisive comparison to their more inventive predecessor, and they sing and play more than competently but with enough lack of distinction that Nicks and McVie will never have to worry about being overshadowed.

Most of the folks in the stands got what they wanted, but one question: Did Fleetwood Mac? This oldies show, well-played but only one or two steps removed from the state-fair circuit, was no indication that they really believe their best days are ahead of them.

Squeeze opened the concert with a far superior, all-too-short set of top-flight intellectual bubble-gum. Like Fleetwood Mac, theirs was a "greatest hits"-oriented show, to promote their current live album, but it also included several songs from a studio package that won't be in the stores until next year.

Thanks to Les for posting this to the Ledge and to Anusha for formatting and sending it to us.