Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie ~ 2017 June 28 ~ Blue Hills Bank Pavilion ~ Boston, MA
Band Personnel: Lindsey Buckingham (guitars, vocals); Christine McVie (organ, piano, accordion, maracas, vocals); Brett Tuggle (guitars, keyboards, backing vocals); Federico Pol (bass, backing vocals); Jimmy Paxson (drums); Neale Heywood (guitars, backing vocals)
Trouble - Never Going Back Again - Wish You Were Here - Shut Us Down - Sleeping Around The Corner - Feel About You - In My World - Too Far Gone - Hold Me - Little Lies - Tusk - Love Is Here To Stay - Red Sun - You Make Loving Fun - I'm So Afraid - Go Your Own Way ... encore ... Everywhere - Lay Down For Free - Game Of Pretend
Although Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie are two well known members of megaband Fleetwood Mac, this was definitely not a Fleetwood Mac concert. Lindsey and Christine's recent duo album was recorded with the Fleetwood Mac rhythm section (Mick Fleetwood and John McVie), but those two venerable musicians aren't on this tour. Of the nineteen songs played tonight, there were only six repeats from the Fleetwood Mac set list of 2015 when the band were touring their "Greatest Hits."
Tonight's set list included two other Fleetwood Mac songs sung by Christine -- "Hold Me," a hit that hasn't been played recently in a full Fleetwood Mac concert, and the relatively obscure "Wish You Were Here." Two songs were featured from Lindsey's solo career ("Trouble" and "Shut Us Down"), not normally played at full FM shows. The rest of the set list consisted of eight songs from the new duo album.
Any resemblance to a standard Fleetwood Mac set was eliminated by the choice of the final two encores, two songs from the new album, Lindsey's "Lay Down For Free" and Christine's "Game of Pretend." The latter is a pretty piano ballad sung by Christine, reminiscent of her "Songbird," the song that usually ends a Fleetwood Mac show. By replacing that well-loved chestnut with a new, but similar song, Chris and Lindsey ended the show on a familiar note, but made it very clear that they did not consider themselves beholden to the usual Fleetwood Mac rules. It was a bold choice for the final song, and to my ear, it worked really well. I left the show with a smile on my face.
Lindsey is definitely the band leader here. He did almost all of the talking and more than half of the lead vocals. Ten songs were his, nine songs were hers. They each sang backup on one another's songs, but in the case of one of Chris's songs, "Feel About You," Lindsey's so-called backing vocal overpowered Chris' lead vocal. On other songs they dueted very nicely, including "In My World" and "Love Is Here To Stay." When Christine took the lead vocal on several of her songs, both old and new, she sounded really good, for example, "You Make Loving Fun," which she sang mainly by herself without help from the backing vocalists. Her singing was ethereal on the two ballads, "Wish You Were Here" and "Game of Pretend."
"The Big Machine" (Fleetwood Mac) has employed a gaggle of backing singers and musicians for many years now, in an effort to make their live show sound big, and in this show, the two stars had a band of four other musicians backing them up, two of whom have worked with Fleetwood Mac for years, Brett Tuggle on guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals, and Neale Heywood on guitar and backing vocals. The backing vocals were all very good and I totally did not miss the three female vocalists that have been backing up Fleetwood Mac for the last number of years. I am afraid that the presence of Brett in this band has allowed Christine to be a little lazy about her playing, as she allows him to take the lead on keyboards on some of the songs, but there were several songs on which her keyboard skills were on full display: piano on the fantastic "Hold Me" and "Red Sun," Yamaha organ on "Go Your Own Way," and piano on "Game of Pretend." As fans have come to expect, she also showed off her multi-instrumentalist skills, playing accordion on "Tusk" and maracas on a couple of songs.
The two stars opened the show alone on stage without the backing band for the first four songs. This acoustic set included two solo songs by Lindsey. If there was any mis-step in the show at all, it was the inclusion of Lindsey's fairly obscure solo song "Shut Us Down." I would have liked to have heard one solo song from Christine instead, or maybe even an older Fleetwood Mac number from the years before Lindsey joined the band. Once the rest of the musicians came out on stage, the show was off and running. There were some real hard rockers played tonight, including "Too Far Gone," on which drummer Jimmy Paxson really showed his stuff.
It was fun watching these two old friends and bandmates interacting joyfully with each other. Lindsey's banter consisted largely of praising Christine for doing things her way (she took a 15 year hiatus from Fleetwood Mac, during which time she lived a life of leisure in the English countryside and recorded only one solo album, 2003's fine In the Meantime). Lindsey said that they were pleased to find that their old musical chemistry was better than ever when she rejoined the band a couple of years ago, and that the two of them found a common thread in their personal journeys during the time she was away from the band.
During "Go Your Own Way," rock music's ultimate angry break-up song, Lindsey made gestures toward Christine as if he were singing the song to her, and she made gestures back at him as if to say 'no, YOU go your own way.' It was very funny, especially when Lindsey then bounded over to her behind the Yamaha and nuzzled up next to her with his guitar.
The concert was opened by a thoroughly enjoyable 45 minute set from The Wallflowers, who played a Richard and Linda Thompson cover, "I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight," and ended their set with their two best-known songs, "One Headlight" and "The Difference."
I don't often go to shows at the big tent venues. This one was easily accessible from the Boston MBTA's Silver Line. Its location is right on the waterfront and I amused myself watching boats for a while before going in. I had my bag searched and some sort of weapon-sniffing wand passed around my torso before I went in. The friendly thing is they did not confiscate my water bottle. Once inside, I wandered about checking out the merch; I did not need to buy a t-shirt since I still have (and was wearing) my t-shirt from Christine's 1984 solo tour. I did treat myself to a Ben & Jerry's ice cream for a not-too overpriced $6. My seat was about halfway back in the third row of a section. The crowd stood for the entire show but because there was no one right in front of me I was actually able to see pretty well. It's interesting to watch the behavior of people at shows like this. Very few of the people near me even looked at the stage. They were mostly bouncing around in time to the music or talking loudly among themselves. They must have thought I was a weirdo, watching every move of the musicians on stage with my binoculars, and taking notes!
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