Live Review: Fleetwood Mac, San Jose, CA, May 21, 2009

The last time I saw Fleetwood Mac in San Jose, there was a near-riot—and it wasn’t because people were trying to get in. When the U.K./American outfit played the half-empty, three-thousand capacity San Jose Civic Auditorium in January 1974, somebody must have thought the local residents were pretty stupid. The band that followed warm-up combo Silverhead (fronted by Michael DesBarres, husband of famed tell-all author/groupie Pamela DesBarres) onstage was definitely not Fleetwood Mac. We’d seen their photos, bought their records, and these were five guys named Moe. Patrons immediately stormed the box office, demanding their money back and were told that the band’s manager, Clifford Davis, who owned the name “Fleetwood Mac,” had fired the original members and hired an all-new lineup. Sign this list, kid, and you’ll be mailed a full refund. Still waiting for that check.

The itch was finally scratched last night when Fleetwood Mac played to a near-capacity crowd of more than 20 thousand at cavernous H.P. Pavilion, home of the San Jose Sharks. Lindsey Buckingham and Stephanie “Stevie” Nicks climbed onboard the Mac express in 1975 and shepherded the group through its superstar period during a 10-year run. Buckingham and Nicks reminisced onstage about their local connections. Both attended Menlo-Atherton High School in Menlo Park in the late ’60s, San Jose State in the early ’70s, then cut their only Buckingham Nicks album in 1973. “When we played the Fillmore West opening for Quicksilver Messenger Service,” said Nicks, “Bill Graham screamed at a guy who was heckling me, ‘Get out of my Fillmore and don’t ever come back!’ That’s when I knew we were going somewhere.” Dressed in her trademark, free-flowing ensemble, Nicks spoke warmly of the boyfriend/girlfriend days she spent with Buckingham, dedicating the band’s ’82 hit “Gypsy” to “the paper roses, the house we had in Los Gatos and the gypsies that we were.” Nicks, who just turned 60, tentatively tried a pirouette on ’76 smash “Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)” but gave up about halfway through. With her voice as strong as ever, it’s probably time to think about switching from playing Ophelia to a long run as Lady MacBeth.

Buckingham, a year younger than Nicks, proved especially feisty, reeling off a juicy guitar break on “Dreams” (“Thunder only happens when it’s raining”) and a solid vocal turn on a re-tooled version of “Oh Well,” a searing, stop-and-start blues number first cut by the 1970 version of Fleetwood Mac that featured guitartists Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan. It was also a treat to hear Nicks perform onetime Mac singer/keyboardist Christine McVie’s showcase number “Say You Love Me.” A hired keyboard player did his best to replace the USC marching band, the original accompanist (recorded at Dodger Stadium) for stirring 1979 number “Tusk,” a revered highlight of the Mac’s masterpiece double album of the same name.

Drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie (the band’s original namesakes) remain in place, with the stork-like Fleetwood, dressed in black knickers and red shoes, particularly nimble on a gavotte-styled bow that followed big hit “Go Your Own Way.” Everyone knew what the encore would be—the only ace in the deck they hadn’t dealt. 1977 classic “Don’t Stop” gained a second life as the campaign theme song for Bill Clinton in 1992. It sounded every bit as exciting in the first term of Barack Obama.

—Jud Cost

4 replies on “Live Review: Fleetwood Mac, San Jose, CA, May 21, 2009”

There were, and still are – the BEST. Fleetwood Mac does everything first class, they always did, and they always will. I went to every show in LA as they began and ended their long tours in the 70s and 80s You always knew that no matter how weary of travel and constant touring they might be, you were on for an excellent show with EVERYTHING top notch: Vocals, instruments, lighting, sound – always the best production possible, with that real life pathos, grit and style evident . I was thrilled to see that nothing had changed, only gotten better with the years!

Of all their concerts I’ve been to, this was the most pleasurable..the warmth and passion is there, stronger than ever. I am so glad they decided to tour again, glad for them that they are able to put aside their personal differences for the better good that is the legendary Fleetwood Mac and share with us once again the magic. Thank you Mick, John, Lindsey, and our High Priestess Stevie! It was a powerful, magical evening!

Finally after many years of wanting to see them I was able to watch them in SJ on the 21st. My husband surprised me with tickets even though I told him before we couldn’t afford them. I am glad we broke down and bought them. I will never forget this great event. I am even going to frame my ticket stubs and t shirt I bought. They are better than the younger bands. This is talent and real music.

I want to burn a CD with the songs from the concert, in order. Anybody write the list? I usually do, but I did not have a piece of paper!

i would have called it the leashed tour……even though i thought the concert was good…they came knowhere close to the amount of energy and intensity as their previos tours……stevie was by far the most disapointing, she was just mailing it in….there setlist was far too predictable……they should have challenged themselves…..only stood up once, and that was for i’m so afraid…..but don’t get me wrong , had a good time hanging out with friends…..they should have played sister of the moon, or angel or crytal or tango in the night, fireflies or throwndown
i long for the tusk tour days……….

Comments are closed.