For the bulk of their 40-plus years in the music industry, Fleetwood Mac’s lofty status as rock gods stemmed directly from their lead vocalist, Stevie Nicks. These days, the still-touring group thrives, and probably would with or without her.
Their Tuesday night date at the ACC was a collective tour-de-force in which the band’s bold sound carried an impactful, fluid rhythm from all four members. The beats of drummer Mick Fleetwood were consistently in flow with John McVie’s bass, which meshed perfectly with the notes that launched off of Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar strings. But it was clear that Nicks’ airy style was strangely at odds with what was a powerful, high-energy show.
That it was Nicks who served as the weak link in the chain is less an indictment of the 64-year-old singer and more of a commentary on the continued excellence of the group as a whole, and a testament to Buckingham’s stellar vocals. The band was often at its strongest when Nicks was an afterthought.
On shared-vocal tracks like “Without You” and “Go Your Own Way,” Buckingham easily overpowered and overshadowed his long-time bandmate and one-time lover. He was also game to show off a softer side, as demonstrated during a solo version of Tango in the Night’s “Big Love.” At other times, Fleetwood’s drums or Buckingham guitar riffs took centre stage. Buckingham let loose with an explosive solo guitar wrap to “I’m So Afraid,” enlivening the crowd of 15,000 that had grown quiet while awaiting the first of two anticipated encores. Shortly thereafter, Fleetwood took his turn in the spotlight with an ambitiously chaotic drum solo following “World Turning.”
Nicks fared much better when allowed to slow down the pace and lend some emotional heft to the proceedings. She dedicated “Landslide” to her two 11-year-old “fairy goddaughters,” which added both meaning and a personal touch to a song that the band has surely performed thousands of times before.
After two and a half hours of inspired rock, Fleetwood Mac probably deserved to go out on a better note than they did. After capping off their first encore on a high note with bona fide crowd pleaser “Don’t Stop,” they curiously and somewhat awkwardly shuffled back in for an unnecessary second encore. Though much of the crowd did show their respect and appreciation by sticking around through the final note, the final offerings of “Silver Springs” and “Say Goodbye” seemed decidedly anticlimactic.
Too bad. A show packing that kind of punch deserves better than to simply flicker out.