So Veddy British
Rock and roll!
The babes abound in that musical genre.
Some are tough looking (and tough acting), grrrls like Kathleen Hanna (formerly of Bikini Kill), punk poetess Patti Smith, Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth), and the godmother of all tuff gals, Joan Jett!
But rock ’n’ roll also gives us quieter, more staid dames who are equally delicious, just in a different way. Kate Bush, the English songbird and outstanding keyboardist, is one such rocker who is gorgeous (bordering on ethereal) as well as supremely talented.
Plumbing a bluesy, more gut-bucket musical mine than Kate is another iconic woman who also plays keyboards, writes great songs, and has a terrific—and distinctive—voice. And like Kate, she is quietly sexy, dignified, and oh, so veddy British.
Her subtly sensual presence, that voice that billows from somewhere deep around her ankles, and her magnificent wordsmithing as well as her keyboard work are why I am madly in love with Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie!Credit: Rebecca Bischoff; Feb. 17, 2015
Perfect by Birth
So here’s something fun: Christine was born July 12, 1943, in Bouth, England (a coastal village in the northwest facing Ireland), with the delightfully silly family surname of “Perfect”! Her middle name is Anne.
Her grandda’ had been Westminster Abbey’s organist. Her da’, Cyril, was a concert violinist and music lecturer at a college in Birmingham, England. So, music was part of her heritage. Her non-musical mum, Beatrice, was apparently some piece of work, though: the woman, having a job as a school secretary, also claimed to be a faith-healing psychic and spirit medium.
Christine herself had been plunked in front of a piano when she was four years old but paid no serious mind of the instrument until deciding to get re-acquainted with its wonders at the age of eleven thanks to a local musician friend of her older brother’s. At that point she started delving into classical piano and kept that up until about the age of fifteen when she got the rock ’n’ roll bee put in her bonnet. The catalyst for that life-changing event was a Fats Domino songbook her older brother had brought home and left sitting out.
Though now into rock music, the teen Christine sensibly first decided she needed a real career. She had a keen interest in art; she thought of becoming an art school teacher. With that goal in mind she enrolled in an art college in Birmingham, focusing on sculpture but with an eye toward teaching (the more practical application of her education).
Bloody Good Blues, Innit?
In the mid 1950s through the early 1960s British youth of a musical bent got their meat-hooks on American records by blues artists. For whatever mind-numbing reason this musical style caught the fancy of nearly every pasty-faced Limey lad who walked the streets (though almost no one in the US was listening to chittlin’ circuit, juke joint blues like these British kids wanted to hear).
Many picked up battered guitars and began plunking along to the blues discs they could get. [Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards cites American blues great Robert Johnson—he of the deal-with-the-devil “crossroads” fame—as a guiding light of his earliest years learning to play.]
These boys—Jimmy Paige, Eric Clapton, Eric Burdon, Denny Laine, et al—found in this music something that rang true with them. They learned to play their instruments following the techniques of the fatback blues players, sped it up, added culturally specific British musical intonations and created a new kind of raw British music, the British blues. Nearly every major act coming from Britain at that time that had later superstar successes—The Who, Rolling Stones, Spencer Davis Group, Animals, Moody Blues, among many others—all considered themselves “blues” singers and musicians at the outset.
Where Christine grew up (close enough to be heavily influenced by Birmingham, England’s second largest city) meant she was exposed to these bluesy leanings as part of the developing pop subculture during her more impressionable teen years. And most certainly when she attended college in the industrial city itself she became more aware of the happenings in blues music (or at least, the Brits’ version of it as it grew in popularity).
In college, Christine hooked up with a couple of “blues” musicians she’d met in a pub. They asked her to join their band, Sound of Blues. And she got her first public singing experience during that same time, doing keyboard work with Spencer Davis. [The 16-year-old Christine was a “tubby” teen by her day’s standards. She weighed in at a fairly chunky 160 pounds (almost 73 kg). By today’s measure this may not mean a thing: with rampant, and apparently acceptable, obesity you can readily spot a 16-year-old Fatty McFatterson in any schoolyard or Walmart who can easily top the scales over 200 pounds without straining your milk. In Christine’s youth, though, 160 pounds was just too damn much. She made a conscious decision to slim down mostly just to get the attention of Spencer Davis Group’s leader, Spencer Davis (around four years her senior). She lost the weight, and he paid her “attention”.]
After five years of art college, and with Sound of Blues having gone nowhere and folding its tent, Christine took her teaching degree and headed to London.
No Longer Perfect
Her original aspirations were to set herself up as a visual artist rather than go straight into teaching. But, she had no cash reserves to risk finding a studio space and being able to eat. Abandoning that idea, at least for the time being, she got a job as a window dresser in a department store, using her artist’s eye to create pleasing displays for the public.
She found out in 1967 that the two mates of hers from Sound of Blues had started a new blues-based group called The Chicken Shack (later truncated to simply “Chicken Shack”). Through the grapevine she also learned they needed a piano player. She dashed off a letter to them, letting the guys know where she was, and asked if she might join them. She was brought in to handle keyboards and backing vocals. This made her one of the very rare breed of serious female musicians at the time. [Most women or girls were merely warblers with no instrumental skills.]
The Chicken Shack got a deal with Blue Horizon and cut a début single that Christine wrote and on which she sang lead. The track, “It’s Okay With Me Baby”, was a typical 12-bar blues romp. The song speeds up and slows down (unintentionally) and is a sloppy, hot mess musically. But, its raw quality makes it interesting.
Christine’s voice, though a bit weedy at this earliest part of her professional career, had the shape-of-things-to-come style that would later make hers one of the most easily recognized and distinctive voices in rock. Just listen:
Also on the same Blue Horizon label was another white-boy blues band, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. This group consisted of guitarist Peter Green, madman drummer Mick Fleetwood (who’d just been kicked out of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers for excessive drunkenness), and John McVie on bass (who had to be cajoled into taking the job by guitarist Peter Green—John was playing with the Bluesbreakers and didn’t want to leave the security of a steady-paying gig for the unknown that Green offered).
Under the name “Fleetwood Mac” (sometimes called “Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac”) the band cut a début, released in February 1968, which did very well. Chicken Shack recorded its first full-length LP, released in June 1968, for Blue Horizon. It went to Number 12 on the British charts and featured two tracks written by Christine. The Mac guys and label-mates Chicken Shack toured and found themselves sharing the same venues often enough that a camaraderie developed between the two bands.
Christine Perfect and John McVie (about two years her junior) developed a romantic interest in each other; after a literal whirlwind romance of a whole two weeks they married in 1968. Peter Green served as best man. She did the traditional thing and changed her last name to “McVie”.
Thus, Christine was no longer Perfect.
In February 1969, Chicken Shack released its second full-length LP. Christine co-wrote two of its tracks. This outing went to Number 9 in Britain.
The same year the band released a single, the now-classic “I’d Rather Go Blind”. The song was written by others but first recorded in 1967 by blues/jazz/pop vocalist, Etta James (though not released until 1968). It is a song that has been covered by many artists over the intervening decades (among them Rod Stewart, early in his solo career, whose cover is heartfelt).
“I’d Rather Go Blind” featured only as a Chicken Shack single. It was released in 1969 and did moderately well, reaching Number 14 on the UK charts. The piano work of Christine PerfectCredit: Blue Horizon, 1970 on this tune is evocative of some of the best of the old barrelhouse blues piano men. Her voice on that disc, in the mere two years since “It’s Okay With Me Baby” was released, was clearly maturing into the sonic, blues-edged instrument the world would come to know and love.
However, John and Christine found that with both their bands on the road all the time they had little left over for each other. Christine elected to leave Chicken Shack, wanting to stay closer to home with John. [Chicken Shack, with a bazillion personnel changes, continued on and is working today.]
To keep her performing and studio chops up to speed, though, she was encouraged to cut a solo disc. This was the eponymous Christine Perfect. It featured her Chicken Shack version of “I’d Rather Go Blind” and eleven other tracks. Many of the songs were covers; but, of the twelve tracks recorded, Christine wrote four and co-wrote one. Recorded over 1969 and 1970 it was released on December 6, 1970. [This LP would be re-issued in 1976 under the variant title, The Legendary Christine Perfect Album.]
She had done keyboard work and backing vocals in the studio for Fleetwood Mac starting with their second LP, Mr. Wonderful. She contributed musically to the third disc (uncredited); she played keyboards and did the front cover artwork for their fourth album, Kiln House (released in September 1970).Credit: Reprise, 1970
Because of her ongoing involvement with Fleetwood Mac in the studio and with Peter Green’s leaving after the third album, Then Play On, her husband finally talked her into becoming a permanent member of his band.
As the only woman in the revolving-door sausage party that was Fleetwood Mac before she joined (many personnel changes were behind her and more were to come) Christine proved her Credit: cnn.comworth almost immediately. Her sensibly strong songwriting and lead vocals on certain tracks helped the group clean up its bluesy jam-stylings into more cleanly defined tunes with killer vocals byCredit: Reprise, 1972 Christine (and later with Bob Welch starting with their fifth studio album, 1971’s Future Games).
Christine was heavily involved in band minutiae, putting her art school skills to work once again by supplying the front cover photograph for 1972’s Bare Trees.
The band was doing okay for itself in Britain and other parts of Europe, but had yet to have a big break-out smash in the US, though favorably reviewed. Their albums placed on the US charts, usually in the lower end of the Top 100. But they were building a following there and, mostly, each new release placed higher than its predecessor (with some minor exceptions). To increase their visibility in the United States, the core members (Mick and John) felt relocating would better help their chances of breaking out in that market. It was a reluctant Christine who grudgingly agreed to this and the group moved its base of operations to Los Angeles, California. [Ironically, they crashed for a short time at the home of John Mayall, the guy who had fired Mick Fleetwood from the Bluesbreakers years earlier.]
The American, Bob Welch, had joined as a guitarist and vocalist in 1971. By 1974’s Heroes Are Hard to Find he’d had enough of the touring and his growing feelings of alienation within the group. He felt close only to Mick Fleetwood (with the dual cliques of Christine and John, and John and his best mate, Mick, sometimes leaving him feeling like the odd man out). He also was having personal problems at home, and quit. [Welch went on to a brief but moderately successful solo career. After not recovering as quickly as he thought he should from a recent spinal surgery, and not wanting to leave his wife caring for him as an invalid, he killed himself by gunshot in 2012. He was 66.]
Welch’s departure left the group with no male lead. Mick Fleetwood found one after hearing a recording by a virtuoso named Lindsey Buckingham. He met Lindsey, heard more of his work, and invited him to join Fleetwood Mac. Lindsey Buckingham agreed on one condition: his musical partner and girlfriend, Stephanie “Stevie” Nicks, had to come along, too.
This presented a bit of a dilemma. Christine had been the only woman in the band, ever. Mick mostly wanted to see if “the girls” would get along. If they did, Buckingham and his girlfriend were in the band.
It turned out Christine and Stevie Nicks got along just fine. While Stevie’s onstage persona was more theatrical, Christine had always been mostly content to work her keyboards off to the sideCredit: Reprise, 1975 of the stage. Occasionally, she might step forward to sing away from her piano or electric organ. But, like her husband John, she was fairly reserved in the dramatics department. So, it was no skin off her nose if Stevie Nicks came in to handle center-stage duties.
The group went into the studio after settling Buckingham and Nicks in. The result was 1975’s Fleetwood Mac (this second eponymous disc was meant to signal a new start for the band).
And was it ever.
The record sold millions and put Fleetwood Mac on the map in the US.
The first single lifted was Christine’s “Over My Head”. The track got a lot of airplay and was the first Fleetwood Mac single to ever hit the US charts in a meaningful way. This and another Christine song from the same album (“Say You Love Me”) both went Top 20 fairly quickly. While not the only hit from this outing Christine’s work was what got them noticed in a hurry. [Stevie Nicks’ “Rhiannon”—a truly great song by any standard—shortly pounded the charts; “Landslide”, over the next two decades, knocked out some serious royalty bucks thanks to airplay as an FM radio staple, sincere covers by Smashing Pumpkins and Dixie Chicks, and the original Mac version getting re-released.]
With some serious walking-around change in their pockets for the first time, the current band members, previously given over to minor dabbling in illicit substances (mostly booze and weed) turned toward the dark side of full-on addictions with the introduction and mass consumption of huge mountains of cocaine.
Mick Fleetwood literally dove in head first and supplied the rest of the band (by his own admission) with it. Though Christine did her share of whatever drugs she felt compelled to ingest she never succumbed to the all-embracing lifestyle of the addict. Her main drug of choice, as was John’s, was alcohol. However, both did their share of other things.
Unfortunately, there was major trouble ahead. John and Christine were having problems within their marriage. John—a generally quiet man—had been a heavy drinker for years prior. After the success of Fleetwood Mac he became worse; constant drunkenness was part of his lifestyle. Christine, a drinker herself (and a heavy cigarette smoker), found his out-of-character nastiness unsettling and destructive.
During the supporting tour that followed in 1976 she started an affair with one of the band’s road crew, a lighting director. [He was fired once the liaison was discovered.] Obviously, this did nothing but Credit: Warner Bros., 1977)further strain her relationship with John who was, by then, heavily invested in using drugs as well as drinking.
[Fleetwood Mac’s “partying” history has been documented in exhaustive detail elsewhere over the decades and needs no further elaboration from me.]
The band worked steadily, though, preparing material for what would become the monster smash LP, Rumours, during that period. Christine wrote a song, “You Make Loving Fun”, about the lighting man with whom she’d been having her fling. This slap-in-the-face probably did John McVie no favors in trying to save his marriage (if he were inclined to do so—after all, he had to go into a studio and play on, and then later perform on tour, a song his wife had written about some new guy she had got on with).
The couple divorced in 1976 as they were finishing up the Rumours album. [At the same time, Mick Fleetwood’s marriage was in trouble, and Lindsey and Stevie, together for a few years, were also splitting up. And during this time of angst, John and Christine managed to keep things fairly civil both in and out of the studio between them, part of their British reserve, I suppose. Lindsey and Stevie? Not so much.]
Fun makin' time!
The internal strife between the band members and their significant others, as well as escalating drug use (made legendary during the Rumours sessions and reported on in nearly every significant music rag) fueled the songwriting of an album that would go on to sell over 40 million copies worldwide. Of the eleven tracks on the 1977 release, Christine wrote four songs and sang lead vocals on them and was a co-writer of one track (“The Chain”, along with all the other band members).
The LP spawned several Top 10 tunes, and gave the band a signature, Southern Californian, mostly non-bluesy sound. Christine’s “Don’t Stop” was a monster seller, as was “You Make Loving Fun”. [“Don’t Stop” placed in the late 1980s at #584 of the 1,001 greatest singles ever made.] Her “Songbird”, a quiet acoustic piano track played and recorded in an empty auditorium, quickly became an encore favorite.
With their relationship issues behind them the group returned to the studio for the sprawling, and sometimes quirky, double-record set, Tusk. This LP (with its strangely incongruent front cover image of a snarling dog tugging a pants’ leg) cost over a million dollars (around $3.2 million in today’s currency) to make, at the time the most expensive record ever cut.Credit: Warner Bros., 1979
Lindsey Buckingham was given the producer’s reins for this project, and it was his show to run as he saw fit. What he saw fit to do was include many songs written and sung by Christine, bookending the project with two of her compositions: “Over and Over” opens side one of disc one, and “Never Forget” closes side two of disc two. [And she wrote and sang lead on six of the album’s twenty tracks.]
Christine’s song, “Think About Me”, broke the Top 20; a Stevie tune, “Sara”, and the title track hit the Top 10.
Success after success followed. And, while never duplicating the almost unbelievable reception of Rumours, the band made many excellent records afterward.
Christine’s love life forged ahead after John and the lighting crew guy. [And she had had her share of men over the years, but she mostly kept quiet about it, even being engaged to a Swedish man in the mid 1960s]. She was in a relationship with Beach Boys’ drummer, Dennis Wilson, from 1979 to 1981. [She did vocals with him on a 1979 Beach Boys’ track.] She then started up with a guy twelve years younger than she—he co-wrote some songs with her, a coupla of which became Mac hits (“As Long As You Follow” and “Little Lies”). [They married in 1986 and divorced in 2003.]
Fleetwood Mac entered the video age gracefully, with innovative clips and fantasy pieces airing in heavy rotation on MTV (before it became the turd channel that it is today that doesn’t feature music videos anymore). Both Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham had embarked on solo careers while maintaining their places in Fleetwood Mac. In 1984, Christine cut another solo album which spawned a hit on the Adult Contemporary charts. That same year she cleaned up, stopping any drug use (though she continued to drink moderately and smoke cigarettes). [She reports she had quit smoking several times, once for five years, but started up again for various reasons.]
She continued to write, play, and sing on some of the Mac’s biggest hits. [It is interesting to note that on the 1988 Warner Bros. compilation, Greatest Hits, six of the songs were written by her and two others were primarily hers (with her second husband as a co-writer). That is half this collection’s sixteen tracks!] The year of that compilation’s release she did some vocals on a Christopher Cross song.
By the late 1980s, Lindsey Buckingham was fed up with what he felt were the constraints of Fleetwood Mac. He quit. Many people thought the band would fold—Buckingham is a remarkable guitarist, a genius in the studio, and an excellent song crafter. However, rather than be brought down, the remaining Mac team simply hired two guitarists to take Lindsey’s place. [That just shows how phenomenal Lindsey Buckingham is as a musician—it took two guys to replace him!] Vocal duties for newer material leaned more heavily on the women in the band, and the transition to Fleetwood Mac Mach III went relatively smoothly.
The public wasn’t having it, though, and their first offering minus Lindsey, Behind the Mask, didn’t do very well in the US (it went to Number One in the UK, though). It’s only Top 40 US hit was another Christine song, “Save Me”. [Starting to see a pattern here, kids? Stevie who?]
This record took some wind out of the band’s sails. Christine’s father died, and she developed a fear of flying so great she decided to quit touring (though she was always willing to lend a hand in the studio). Stevie Nicks quit the band completely in 1991 to focus on her solo career (which was seriously doing very well for her).
A CD box-set was put together in 1992 for which Christine wrote a new song that she recorded with Mick and John to give something extra to the career-retrospective package.
Never Going Back Again?
Finally, it seemed there was no more Mac.
However, US President Bill Clinton (who had adopted the Mac tune, “Don’t Stop”—a message song written by Christine to her ex, John—in his campaign) managed to get the band (Mick, John, Christine, Lindsey, and Stevie) at his request to reunite just long enough to play his inauguration in 1993. Anything permanent among the “classic” lineup, though, seemed out of the question.
There were some other staff changes at this time. Bekka Bramlett, daughter of music legends Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, assumed the “Stevie Nicks” role in the band with almost global disdain. The only album recorded with her, Time (released in 1995), also featured new addition, Dave Mason (formerly of Traffic and with a lukewarm solo career behind him). It was a miserable failure, both commercially and critically. Christine decided to make this her last Mac studio appearance.
Shortly afterward, Mick, John, and Lindsey all worked together for one of Lindsey’s solo efforts. Christine was called in to help fill out the sound, and after a bit of discussion the four realized they could work together again. Stevie Nicks was lured back into the fold; the result was a live DVD/CD package called The Dance (1997). The band was in top form in those performances, their set list was phenomenal, and the apparent joy with which this group of people played seemed sincere. The reunified Mac was big box office and no one wanted to miss out.
Unfortunately, for the fear-struck Christine, this resurgence in the band’s popularity meant touring. Touring meant flying. She sucked it up and managed to get through the schedule as she promised she would. After the band’s 1998 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, Christine went back to England. She pottered around her 17th Century manor in Kent, played with her dogs, gardened, and worried not one whit about being away from Fleetwood Mac. She also engaged a psychotherapist to help her overcome her morbid fear of flying.
The rest of the band soldiered on. With Lindsey and Stevie back things were pretty good, but a piece was still missing. Many of the group’s best songs were either not played live (because they featured Christine on lead vocals) or one or the other lead vocalists substituted. It just wasn’t the same.
In 2004, Christine cut another solo set. This was laid down in a converted barn studio she had in Kent, England.
She went to Fleetwood Mac’s UK tour-closing show in London in 2009. She did not go onstage to sing as a guest or to help with an encore.
And when Fleetwood Mac announced its world tour for 2012 questions arose about Christine’s possibly returning. To this, Stevie Nicks gave the hopeless reply, “She went to England and she has never been back since 1998 . . . as much as we would all like to think that she’ll just change her mind one day, I don’t think it’ll happen. . . ”.
However, time heals, and Christine, itching to do something besides weeble around in her country home, had been approached by media journalists about her coming back to Fleetwood Mac. Always reserved, she made it clear that, if invited, she would be only too happy to rejoin.
In 2013 she made an appearance onstage (at his request) for Mick Fleetwood’s side project, Mick Fleetwood Blues Band. That September she did two shows with Fleetwood Mac in London—the fans were agog.
The rejuvenated and still touring (to mostly sold-out shows) Fleetwood Mac (with all but Christine present and voting) wanted her back (something they’d all tried to do, both collectively and separately, for years). After realizing how much she’d missed the band, and getting over her fear of flying, she felt the time was right.
“And the Winner Is . . . ”
The albums upon which she has played and sung have sold tens of millions of copies globally. Her voice is one of the most easily recognized in the industry. And over the decades Christine has received her share of accolades from various sources.
Her group has won Grammy Awards among other myriad music awards starting with the 1975 Fleetwood Mac record. Along with her current band mates (and some from the past, except for Bob Welch), Christine, as part of Fleetwood Mac, made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. The group also got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (but, because this is a bought-and-paid-for “honor” now that doesn’t mean as much as it once did).Credit: Rebecca Bischoff; Feb 17, 2015
She was granted an honorary doctorate from London’s University of Greenwich in 2000. A magazine in 2006 named her as one of rock ’n’ roll’s Top 100 songwriters of all time (#86). That same year she received the Gold Badge of Merit from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. She was honored with the Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement from the British Academy in 2014. [And Christine’s songwriting is impressive. She can be somber, as in “Oh, Daddy”, or raucous. She can also be wry: “Sugar Daddy” is a very funny tune in its lyrics about a woman who dreams of some rich yutz providing her all the material goods she may want but when it comes to the “good stuff” she has some other guy for that, leaving the sugar daddy out in the cold!]
While generally happy with her life and lifestyle—her quiet country manor, her dogs, her gardening, etc.—she does occasionally express regret that she never had children. However, the children of other family members and the children and grandchildren of her male band mates have tended to fill that gap by proxy for her.
On with the Show
After a sixteen-year absence from the band she’d help make a household name Christine McVie was officially announced, by Mick Fleetwood, as coming back for good in early January 2014. A tour was put together that started in the US in September 2014.
It was dubbed the “On With The Show World Tour”. Oddly, the reunited Mac wasn’t sure of the reception they’d receive.
They had nothing to fear.
Christine’s presence makes these shows worth paying serious cash for tickets. Her lead vocals, her quietly sexy stage persona (generally standing off to Mick’s right toward the front behind her keyboard, a very comforting place for her and for fans), the musicality and charisma she brings—Christine McVie is dynamic without being a narcissistic stage hog.
She will step up to her mic stage front, strap on an accordion, or handle maracas, and belt like there is no tomorrow (and her voice-from-the-gut is better than it has ever been).
The group initially signed on for 40 shows in the US and Canada. After the first few outings with Christine they realized that the world missed her; they added at least 28 more dates to the 2015 tour schedule.
What is fun about these shows is that, despite the fact she’s never tried to be the center of attention, Christine McVie is the default headliner here. It has to do with the facts that she has been away so long, she was sorely missed, and some of Mac’s biggest hits are those she penned and sang.
In one particular recent show (in February 2015) the band deferred to her presence, talked about her return, and made sure everyone there knew what a wonderful thing it was that Christine McVie was once again on stage.
No one needed to be told that, though.
From the first moment she went out, to her final encore (“Songbird” on baby grand piano with Lindsey Buckingham sitting off to the side, gently adding some guitar fills), Christine McVie was the star of the show. Simply her being there, after a sixteen-year absence, made her the star.
For anyone not thinking about catching the newly reunited Fleetwood Mac on this tour it is worth the megabucks to reconsider (and most of the shows are sell-outs, so act quickly).
Every lead vocalist on this tour—Christine, Lindsey, and Stevie—is in fine voice. Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar pyrotechnics and stage antics (kinda goofy sometimes, but fun) are worth the cost alone. John McVie’s thunder-rollin’ bass (and he is probably underrated and underappreciated as a bassist) with Mick Fleetwood’s caveman pounding pedal-to-the-metal drumming can cause heart arrhythmias. And, of course, there is always the ethereal presence of Stevie Nicks, awhirl in her gossamer skirts, with her unique voice.Credit: Rebecca Bischoff; Feb. 17, 2015
Their set lists vary slightly from show to show but are always “full”, not just of the hits but of other material that is stellar (“I Know I’m Not Wrong” from Tusk, for example). Here’s a recent one from a February 2015 show:
- The Chain
- You Make Loving Fun
- Second Hand News
- I Know I’m Not Wrong
- Sisters of the Moon
- Say You Love Me
- Seven Wonders
- Big Love
- Never Going Back Again
- Over My Head
- Little Lies
- Gold Dust Woman
- I’m So Afraid
- Go Your Own Way
- World Turning (encore # 1 set)
- Don’t Stop (encore #1 set)
- Silver Springs (encore #1 set)
- Songbird (final encore)
The lighting and imagery projected on a huge backscreen in the venues are spectacular. And in the over two hours the show runs this band has never sounded, performed, or looked better in its career.
But it is Christine—the band’s oldest member (she’ll be 72 (!) years old in July 2015)—who is currently metaphorically center stage. She is physically very fit looking. [Stevie Nicks relates an anecdote from the stage, saying she’d told Christine that if she were serious about returning to the road she needed to hire a personal trainer as the shows are very physically demanding. Stevie wasn’t lying: these senior citizens were all over the place (except for John who maintains his sideman’s stoic stance, same as he’s done for decades, though that’s pretty damn good for a guy who battled cancer a bit over a year ago). And Mick Fleetwood’s stamina, considering he will be 68 in mid 2015, is phenomenal. He pays dearly for it after the shows, though. Christine noted in an interview that he immediately applies ice packs to his entire body afterward, puts on a long overcoat that is three sizes too big—to hold everything in place—and then spends much time walking around to keep his muscles moving so they don’t cramp up on him. That’s dedication!]
Over her more than fifty years in the music business Christine McVie (she still uses John McVie’s last name professionally) has developed into a full-throated, gutsy singer who canCredit: Rebecca Bischoff; Feb 17, 2015 display shading and pathos with her voice. Her keyboard work (and she also plays many other instruments) ranges from funky, to jazzy, to classically tinged. And it is that musicality which helped shape the sound of early Fleetwood Mac and later drove it to chart-topping greatness starting in the mid 1970s.
You like Fleetwood Mac?
Good for you. You should. You’ll not likely find a more professionally performing outfit on the road today.
Stevie Nicks is your favorite, you say?
Okay, fine, you’re entitled to that.
But, for me, there’s another talented blond in that band (who’s been away far too long) that gets me excited with her amazing musicianship, songwriting, and sexy voice. It’s why I am madly in love with Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie.