This show ended not with a song but with two speeches. One was a short valediction from drummer Mick Fleetwood, a founder of the band, who thanked the huge crowd for its patronage, and the other from Stevie Nicks, one of its three songwriters and lead singers. She recounted the events that led to this reunion tour, which is what this show was: a reunion of this band’s most popular lineup.
Fleetwood Mac never broke up, but in 1998 Christine McVie retired, and for nearly 16 years, the band forged on. But it wasn’t the same without her. Saturday night, for the first time since 1987, the band performed in Kansas City with McVie, nearly filling the Sprint Center and delivering a show that was as rousing and satisfying as it was nostalgic and memorable.
The two-and-a-half-hour show was one steady barrage of hits, and the set list was front-loaded with favorites. The opener was encore-worthy: “The Chain,” a statement about solidarity and a song the crowd recognized from the opening heartbeat thud of Mick Fleetwood’s kick drum. They followed that with one of McVie’s signature songs, “You Make Loving Fun.” Her voice isn’t as glossy or porcelain as it once was, but it handled her leads and harmonies adroitly. Next came “Dreams,” one of Nicks’ best-known songs, then “Second Hand News,” the fourth-straight song from the fabled “Rumours” album, now 38 years old.
There were many highlights. “Rhiannon,” Nicks’ trademark ballad about a Welsh goddess, was one. The title track to “Tusk,” which included a sinister intro and featured McVie on accordion, was another. They embellished that with vocal trimmings — some “da-da-das” that replaced the marching band’s horn section in the original. Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar wizardry was on full display during “Big Love,” which he performed solo. He and Nicks followed that with a lovely rendition of “Landslide.” By the end of that song, the two were holding hands. Then came “Never Going Back Again,” one of eight “Rumours” songs on the set list and yet another that showcased Buckingham’s considerable guitar prowess.
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As an intro to “Gypsy,” Nicks told a story. Back before she was famous and wealthy, she went into a store in San Francisco called the Velvet Underground, where the clothes were too expensive for her meager budget. But it inspired her, she said, to pursue her music dreams and to one day return and buy whatever she wanted. “Follow your passion,” was the moral. They played that and “Little Lies” slightly unplugged, with Fleetwood sitting at a “cocktail kit,” as McVie called it.
Throughout the show they got support from three vocalists, a percussionist, a guitarist and keyboard player, all of whom operated in the shadows but added substantial heft to the arrangements.
The only disappointment of the evening: McVie didn’t perform “Songbird,” which was removed from the set list several weeks ago.
The first set closed with two of Buckingham’s best. First, “I’m So Afraid,” which ended in a furious guitar solo, then “Go Your Own Way,” one of the most ebullient break-up songs ever. On that one, Nicks danced around wearing a big, black top hat. They returned for a three-song encore: “World Turning,” which featured a drum solo by Fleetwood, the ever-inspirational “Don’t Stop,” then “Silver Springs,” the band’s best-known B-side (to “Go Your Own Way”).
Then Nicks emerged and preached about McVie’s return — at the age of 70 — and re-dedication to a band that has persevered and sustained so much over more than 40 years: bitter romantic breakups, successful solo careers, McVie’s retirement, bassist John McVie’s battle with cancer. In 2015, Fleetwood Mac is proving no matter which way you go, sometimes you can go back again.
The Chain; You Make Loving Fun; Dreams; Second Hand News; Rhiannon; Everywhere; I Know I’m Not Wrong; Tusk; Sisters of the Moon; Say You Love Me; Big Love; Landslide; Never Going Back Again; Over My Head; Gyspy; Little Lies; Gold Dust Woman; I’m So Afraid; Go Your Own Way. Encore: World Turning; Don’t Stop; Silver Springs.