Nostalgia played a tremendous part in Fleetwood Mac's sell-out U.S. tour kickoff show at Target Center on Tuesday night. With the addition of Christine McVie -- joining the band for the first time since 1998 -- the Rumours-era lineup stood together reformed.
Clearly, this was personal, both for audience and for band. Redemption, forgiveness, and perseverance were on display throughout the night -- and that was just from the five original band members on stage. The emotional memories these hits triggered for an audience of 17,000-plus could span many chapters.
After Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks took the lead on "The Chain," the band ceded the spotlight to McVie, who received a rousing ovation as soon as she started to sing "You Make Loving Fun." The 71-year-old's golden voice showed no sign of rust. "Hello again, Minneapolis," Nicks announced, before quickly adding, "We should say at the same time, welcome back, Chris!"
Fleetwood Mac have such a stellar back catalog that their opening string of songs would be saved for encores by most other bands. "Dreams," "Second Hand News," and "Rhiannon" got the show started strongly, and the quintet never looked back. The latter featured a triptych of curved screens filled with expansive natural vistas as well as images of Ophelia sinking in her doomed water.
As with any tour kickoff show, there were imperfections and slight blunders along the way. But the band leaned on the strength of their songs and on their familiarity with each other throughout the performance, and effortlessly rose above any bumps they experienced along the way. Buckingham's vehement guitar work was on full display throughout the set, as he tore through solos that gave these breezy classic-rock numbers some added teeth. But ultimately, the night belonged to McVie, who added a blissful elegance to every song she sang. "This is a dream come true, and a chance that you don't get often in life," McVie gushed after thanking the band for welcoming her back, before leading them through the buoyant, Caribbean rhythms of "Everywhere."
"This is a band that continues to evolve, through good times and adversity," Buckingham admitted candidly. "And this is a poetic and profound new chapter that we've started now that we have this lady back with us." He did single out McVie twice during the performance, but strangely never mentioned her by name, referring to her instead as "this lady," and "this new element." But the natural camaraderie permeated the songs themselves, as the hard-charging beats of "Tusk," the mystical menace of "Sisters of the Moon," and the rollicking seductiveness of "Say You Love Me" all rang out vibrantly.
With Christine McVie in tow, the band had their entire catalog at their disposal, which also caused them to dust off some other choice nuggets from their past. Nicks sang an impassioned version of "Seven Wonders," a song which the group hasn't played together in ages, a choice inspired, no doubt, by the song featuring prominently on the recent season of the hit TV show American Horror Story (as Nicks herself did). And "Over My Head," the pop gem from their 1975 self-titled album (Christine called it "our White Album"), also found its way back into the setlist after a long absence, with McVie affectionately referring to her writing the song from the Malibu flat she was sharing with John at the time.
The three-song acoustic segment toward the end of the main set proved to be a tender highlight of the show, as Buckingham's "Big Love" and "Never Going Back Again" stylishly bookended a plaintive, heartwarming version of "Landslide," which Nicks simply owned, as her seasoned vocals joined with thousands of fans. The main set then ended with a flurry of radio anthems, as "Gypsy," "Little Lies," "Gold Dust Woman," and a triumphant "Go Your Own Way" all soared. Buckingham's plodding "I'm So Afraid" sat awkwardly in the middle of those hits, but his scorching guitar solo on the number made up for its tepid start. Nicks even changed into a stylish black top hat for "Go Your Own Way," so you knew that she and the band meant business on that rousing set closer.
For the encore, John, Christine, and Mick came out together, with Fleetwood dancing a gig, reveling in the ovation from the crowd, while Nicks and Buckingham came out arm in arm. That sense of conviviality carried over into a dynamic run through of "World Turning," which featured dramatic, neon-drenched overhead images of cityscapes on the big screens at the back of the stage. Fleetwood also banged out a wild drum solo during the breakdown of the track (seriously, who but Fleetwood Mac has the audacity to pull off a drum solo during the freaking encore?!). The rest of the band returned to finish off the song, before Mick introduced everyone, calling Buckingham "the visionary behind the band and a brilliant guitar player," while Nicks is "Fleetwood Mac's eternal romantic," and Christine "makes us complete once again -- our songbird has returned," and John is "the backbone of the band and my partner in crime."
The eternally optimistic pulse of "Don't Stop" got the crowd dancing and singing along, with Christine peppering the number with sprightly Ragtime rolls on her keys. The first encore ended with Nicks's somber, wistful ode, "Silver Springs," but Christine had one more gem left. She returned to the keys and sang a fragile, affectionate version of "Songbird," joined by Buckingham's muted, understated guitar. It was a real heartwarming moment in a night full of them, with Christine receiving hugs from the rest of the band after she finished the number. The band took a group bow and soaked in the adoration of the audience. "We are all the dreamcatchers here, and we got our dream girl back," Nicks exclaimed. And indeed, the show was just like a dream come true for so many of us.
Personal Bias: I became a fan of Fleetwood Mac simply because for many years that was the only thing my three older sisters would listen to.
The Crowd: A dedicated, vocal bunch who were thrilled to have the full band back together again.
Random Notebook Dump: While the band played "Everywhere," I couldn't help but think that Vampire Weekend owes their entire career to that song.
You Make Loving Fun
Second Hand News
I Know I'm Not Wrong
Sisters Of The Moon
Say You Love Me
Never Going Back Again
Over My Head
Gold Dust Woman
I'm So Afraid
Go Your Own Way
-- First Encore --
-- Second Encore --