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Fleetwood Mac at Xcel: Three Hours of Big Love

Fleetwood Mac rock the Xcel

Fleetwood Mac rock the Xcel

Fleetwood Mac
Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
Friday, January 16, 2015

It can be a gamble to see performers long after their initial debut -- especially decades later. Sometimes it's best to just remember the past and not relive it with old rockers that suddenly remind you of your own age.

This is the problem my dad had when I invited him along with me to Fleetwood Mac's show at the Xcel over the weekend. Despite my protests -- "But dad! Springsteen, the Stones, hell, even Paul McCartney still put on ridiculously good shows, and they're way older than you are" -- I was convinced I'd be initiating myself to Fleetwood Mac for the first time by myself.

Eventually, my dad caved and decided to live a little.

See also:
Slideshow: Fleetwood Mac Rock the Xcel Energy Center

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Fleetwood Mac began the second leg of their tour in Minnesota much the same way they opened the first -- in Minnesota with a packed house. This time, they filled up the Xcel 16,000 strong with longtime fans -- and while there were a few younger fans in attendance, it's safe to say this was far from the Jingle Ball crowd.

John McVie, bringing it home on bass.

John McVie, bringing it home on bass.

Up until Mick Fleetwood fell ill in Nebraska on Saturday night, Fleetwood Mac's tour has been a reliable dose of nostalgia and old-school rock from a storied band that's finally back together again. Their set list has remained the same for the last 40-something shows (lots of Rumours material here), and the band's enthusiasm for Christine McVie's return has been sung (literally) in every city they've visited.

The band I'd grown up hearing so much gossip about -- the backstage drama, falling in and out of love, saying good riddance -- came across as warm and grateful to be together again and doing what they do best on Friday night in St. Paul. There weren't any pyrotechnics or acrobatics -- we're talking about musicians in their late 60s and early 70s, after all. The stage was set up simply with a huge screen projecting kaleidoscopic videos behind the band and not much else besides the backup singers and producers on either side.

There was something magical about seeing these five musicians together onstage, interacting, hugging, and blowing kisses, that lends itself to a far better experience than listening to Rumours alone after a bad breakup.

Here's the minute-by-minute play-by-play from an epic evening with Fleetwood Mac.

8:10 p.m. There's no opener, I explain to my dad. Fleetwood Mac needs no warm up for their excellence, I say confidently. I hope I'm right.

8:17 p.m. The lights dim and the aging crowd starts whooping. Oh my god, they're coming onstage.

8:20 p.m. There's no mistaking the thump of that bass drum and the rollicking riff of "The Chain." You can feel the audience stomping their feet along with the beat. This is the perfect song to open with -- you get a little bit of everyone soloing, and John McVie is on point during that bass breakdown.

8:21 p.m. My dad deems this the first of many Kodak moments. He's into it, but he's not into it... yet.

8:25 p.m. More Rumours? I'm down. Christine McVie is 71 and has more power in her voice than a lot of pop stars today. It's like her voice freight-trains through the crescendos on "You Make Loving Fun," and I can't imagine her ever not being in the band.

8:27 p.m. I have made the mistake of channeling my inner Stevie and am wearing a shawl and some ridiculous boots. Stevie's wearing ridiculous boots with platforms tonight, too. This is the first time I feel at one with Stevie: If Stevie can rock out in those shoes for the next three hours, I can, too.

8:29 p.m. Of course Stevie's mic is draped in shawls and sparkling streamers.

8:30 p.m. Stevie Nicks welcomes Christine McVie back to the band again, "I guess we can say for sure she's back... Let's get this party started!" I'll get any party started with you, Stevie. At the beginning of "Dreams," Stevie Nicks does a hip shake and so do I.

8:35 p.m. Lindsey Buckingham is shredding and doing high kicks in his skinny jeans. My dad is whooping and -- to my surprise -- I find I am, too. We're into it.

8:40 p.m. Stevie twirls and twirls like a bird about to take flight into the Celtic background during "Rhiannon."

8:41 p.m. Would that I were that shawl.

Christine McVie was in fine form on Saturday night.

Christine McVie was in fine form on Saturday night.

8:47 p.m. I notice how brand-spanking new John McVie's Chuck Taylors are as Lindsey Buckingham tells the crowd how thrilled they are to be back in Minnesota. Some dudes behind me (who will eventually leave the concert early) scoff, "I bet he says that to all the cities."

8:54 p.m. Elephant tusks start spiraling around the screen like an insane Rorschach blot of skulls and bones and tusks. Meanwhile, Lindsey Buckingham cups his hands together and laughs maniacally and Christine McVie kills it on the accordion.

9:00 p.m. Someone has smuggled a sign into the pit and security rushes up to take it away. As the guard is walking through the crowd, someone asks to see it, and he shows them. I can't see what it is.

9:04 p.m. "Say You Love Me." I do, softly and under my breath.

9:06 p.m. There's a crazy Lindsey Buckingham superfan hanging onto the edge of the stage. Actually, there is a whole pack of LB groupies clinging to the stage, enraptured.

9:08 p.m. "Who is the Fleetwood?" someone nearby me asks her companion. "The drummer, that's Mick Fleetwood. See the 'MF' on the drums? Although it could stand for 'motherfucker.'" Real clever, dude.

9:10 p.m. Stevie Nicks sings "Seven Wonders," and immediately I know that she is American Horror Story's one true Supreme (forget who the show actually chose). She retreats backstage after the song, but not before thanking AHS for exposing its "62 million" fans to the band.

Stevie Nicks, the band's "eternal romantic" according to Mick Fleetwood at the concert.

Stevie Nicks, the band's "eternal romantic" according to Mick Fleetwood at the concert.

9:16 p.m. Lindsey Buckingham is going it alone and breaking things down on "Big Love," after telling us it's "a contemplation on alienation and a meditation on the power of change." It's a marvel.

9:20 p.m. Stevie Nicks dedicates "Landslide" to Prince. "We're friends. I'm friends with him. Even though we all know he's not here, this is for you, Prince." BRB, crying -- this is amazing. I ask my dad if he thinks she's lying and Prince is actually there. We look around in the dark like we'd be able to find his purple beacon of light, but we give up fast.

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9:24 p.m. Literally every couple in the Xcel is leaning on each other during "Never Going Back Again." The arena is probably two-thirds couples. My dad and I sip our beers awkwardly. Stevie Nicks dances by herself in the dark and I think, "That is my life."

9:27 p.m. Someone screams "Woo!" into the silence. Everyone wants him to shut up and woo at the appropriate times.

9:33 p.m. Mick Fleetwood descends from his drum set fortress toward center stage as another drum set is wheeled out closer to the other members of the band. Time to bring it in for "Never Going Back Again." It is only now that I notice Fleetwood's incredible pair of red shoes. "That drum set looks so small," my dad remarks.

9:38 p.m.

Nicks introduces "Gypsy" by telling a story about her early days in the band and in San Francisco. "We were a good band. We opened for Jimi and Janis and CCR... I'm told we opened for Janis more than once, but I can't remember," Nicks says, earning a knowing laugh from the crowd.

She talks about the inspiration for the song back in an old store called the Velvet Underground: "I feel like I'm having a premonition or a seizure, and what I know now is that I was seeing Fleetwood Mac, and it was huge. If you have a dream and you believe in it, don't ever tell anyone you can't do it."

Lindsey Buckingham can shred.

Lindsey Buckingham can shred.

9:39 p.m. BRB, sobbing and dreaming big while two guys sitting near me high five each other. Quick, wipe tears before dad sees.

9:42 p.m. Stevie Nicks twirls and I die.

9:48 p.m. Of course Stevie Nicks would don a gold shawl for "Gold Dust Woman." She assumes her power stance: feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent, and voice belting to the heavens.

9:50 p.m. There's a guy singing along and filming the whole song on his phone... which makes sense because Nicks is clutching her head and being the most theatrical we've seen all night long. Oh my god, she's head-banging.

9:54 p.m. Someone is smoking weed nearby, and I turn into an old person immediately: "Where did they get that? Why haven't they been caught? That guy with the sign was caught..."

10:05 p.m. Lindsey Buckingham has been shredding for several minutes now and has reached a state of absolute transcendence on "I'm So Afraid." Am I one with Lindsey Buckingham? Maybe. Oh wait, he's actually skipping across the stage.

10:08 p.m. Stevie Nicks re-emerges onstage for "Go Your Own Way" with her signature top hat and Mick Fleetwood's hair is going absolutely crazy as he beats away on the drums.

Mick Fleetwood and the most intense eyes in the biz.

Mick Fleetwood and the most intense eyes in the biz.

10:11 p.m. The Lindsey Buckingham superfan starts air drumming. The real Lindsey Buckingham makes his rounds and jams with each of his bandmates.

10:14 p.m. The arena is filled with phone LEDs waving in the air in lieu of lighters.

10:15 p.m. I spot one lighter and the dedicated person waving it in the air before burning her thumb.

10:20 p.m. Mick Fleetwood starts an insane drum solo on "World Turning" and compels everyone in the arena to let out a primal scream. These are our Whitman-esque, barbaric yawps to world.

10:22 p.m. Fleetwood's smiling like he knows something you don't know, and oh my god, THOSE EYES. There he is, reflected backwards into infinity on the screen behind him, a hundred Fleetwoods drumming into the atmosphere on a live video feed. God, this wild man can rock.

11:09 p.m. My dad and I have made it back to our car and the oldies station is on, playing a whole block of Fleetwood Mac songs. Our ears are ringing, but we're too giddy to care. We crank up the radio.

Critics' bias: I'm no Fleetwood Mac superfan or expert, but I like 'em when I hear 'em... and I do love me some Stevie Nicks.

The crowd: Mostly older. More weed smokers than you'd think. And only a handful of Stevie superfans with top hats and shawls.

Random notebook dump: I think it's safe to say that my family will be fighting for my next plus-one.

Set list:
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
Seven Wonders
Big Love
Landslide
Never Going Back Again
Over My Head
Gypsy
Little Lies
Gold Dust Woman
I'm So Afraid
Go Your Own Way

Encore #1
World Turning
Don't Stop
Silver Springs

Encore #2
Songbird

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