FLEETWOOD MAC Live In Boston Warner Music Vision (2004)
Mac-tastic...200 collective years and still the business
Let me put my cards firmly on the table. The Buckingham Nicks Mac line-up is one of my favourite bands and The Dance (1997) - despite it’s invited audience and made for TV gloss - my all time favourite ‘live’ DVD. So the prospect of reviewing this Say You Will tour DVD (recorded in Boston over two nights in September 2003) had me fairly ‘gagging for it’.
First impressions (before even getting the DVD in the player) are excellent - a lavish, boxed fold out sleeve containing two 12 track DVDs (an entire concert) and a 10 track CD culled from the DVD material. The only minor disappointment was the wafer thin booklet that contains little more than the track listing and credits.
But sod the packaging - the burning question was could the Christine McVie-less Mac deliver the same sort of mesmerising and emotionally charged viewing as The Dance? A quick look at the track list reveals a 12 track overlap, but then what Mac gig would be complete without classics such as The Chain, Dreams, Rhiannon, Gold Dust Woman and Go Your Own Way - to name but a handful?
So without further ado, it was crack open a beer, kill the lights and crank up the volume!
As with any Mac gig the show opens with Mick Fleetwood’s thumping bass drum opening to The Chain. The lights spill onto Buckingham and Nicks - looking every inch the elder statesman and his first lady (they’d no doubt give Bush and Kerry a serious run for their money) and we’re off at full pace - John McVie’s bass literally shaking your fillings. Wonderful.
Dreams follows and you realise there’s something missing - Christine McVie’s floating backing vocals - her absence gives the overall sound a slightly harder edge than we’ve heard before. Stevie Nicks is in quite magnificent vocal form, as is Buckingham on co-vocals and guitar. The omens are looking good.
Eyes Of The World, from Mirage, sees Mick Fleetwood holding down a furious rhythm, grinning like a dervish and clearly having the time of his life. It must be wonderful to still get such a thrill from the day job when you’re eligible for a bus pass.
Peacekeeper and Second Hand News follow. Mac are coasting. Say You Will is excellent. Never Going Back Again sees the spotlight fall on Buckingham and his acoustic prowess and it doesn’t disappoint. It equals anything on The Dance and is the best track so far. And to be able to follow it with Rhiannon...Come sees Buckingham centre stage again - a delicate and sensitive opening showcasing his vocals before rocking like a bitch. Awesome. And again Buckingham and Nicks shine on Gypsy.
Big Love and Landslide were two of the best tracks on The Dance. And here they close disc one. If anything Big Love is played at an even more frenetic pace and you get the feeling Buckingham just isn’t a man capable of going through the motions. It’s all or nothing. And it shows. Nicks dedicates Landslide to Buckingham and you can feel yourself choking back the tears. Another absolutely beautiful delivery. It really doesn’t get any better than this. Stevie just seems to get better as the years go by.
Disc two opens with Say Goodbye - a gentle acoustic duet and What’s The World Coming To, before Nicks delivers a rare rendition of Beautiful Child. Gold Dust Woman is delivered with the usual aplomb before an intense and immensely powerful I’m So Afraid - a real showstopper - a solid groove with a blues feels reminiscent of Mac’s roots and building to a crescendo of frenzy.
Silver Springs brings a brief respite, before Buckingham turns the heat up again with manic versions of Tusk, Stand Back and Go Your Own Way. And a word of praise must go to Taku Hirano who is exceptional on percussion.
Encores include World Turning featuring Mick Fleetwood’s entertaining seven or eight minute drum ‘solo’, a thunderous Don’t Stop and finally Goodbye Baby which closes Say You Will.
Better than The Dance? Maybe not. I couldn’t tell you just quite why - I’m still trying to fathom that one out. Live In Boston is packed with excellent performances and many moments equal The Dance. But The Dance felt like a joyous rebirth and celebration of the past, whereas Live In Boston is more like business as usual. Don’t get me wrong - it runs The Dance a damn close second, but it’s a bit like winning the Olympic gold without taking the world record.
As for the CD, some may say it’s a marketing ploy to ensure everyone shells out for both the DVD and CD. And for the cost of an extra CD - why not make it a double and replicate the entire DVD soundtrack? At least with the Dance CD there were five tracks that didn’t make the DVD. But what the hell, I’m splitting hairs. It wouldn’t be my selection, but nevertheless it’s a fine listen.
As the lights dim, Mick Fleetwood shouts ‘The Mac is back!’. Damn right. And despite having a combined age of well over 200 and more than a few grey hairs, these guys sure can rock. Buy that man a drink.