Concert Knowledge: 8 Things I Learned at Fleetwood Mac


A magical thing happened on Wednesday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

I know that sounds ridiculous, but I swear, it was magic.

Fleetwood Mac stopped in Providence as a part of the second string of their “On With The Show” tour, the first time the ~core five~ members of the band have batted for the same team since Christine McVie, the band’s vocalist, keyboardist and accordionist, left in 1998. So it was a pretty big fucking deal.

Realizing that this may be the first and last opportunity I will ever have in my lifetime to get the full Fleetwood Mac experience, I bought tickets on StubHub and forgot about my 100 pages of creative nonfiction reading in order to do some creative nonfiction living. Ha.

Here are the eight things I learned and loved at Fleetwood Mac:

1. They just get it.

The first six songs of the setlist, in order:

The Chain
You Make Loving Fun
Second Hand News
Rhiannon (during which I decided I might name my child Rhiannon)

Fleetwood Mac came to fool nobody. They gave their loyal audience what is wanted. They played no games, like that time I saw John Mayer at Madison Square Garden and he only played, like, three songs that everyone knew. They didn’t leave anything out, either, including “Seven Wonders,” “Big Love,” “Landslide,” “Never Going Back Again,” “Gypsy,” “Little Lies,” “Gold Dust Woman,” “Go Your Own Way,” “World Turning,” “Don’t Stop,” “Silver Springs,” and “Songbird.”

2. Stevie Nicks actually might be a witch.

I was into Stevie Nicks when other kids were into School of Rock. When the house lights went down and Mick Fleetwood thumped the beat that solely belongs to “The Chain,” I saw Stevie in the spotlight and I kind of started crying. When you see Stevie Nicks in person for the first time, when you’re in the same vicinity as someone like her, whose 1975 voice you listen to often (which is a crazy thing when you think about it), you can’t be starstruck. You are more than that – you’re in awe of the fact that a crucial character in the enchanting plot of seventies rock n’ roll is standing right in front of you. It was, undoubtedly, her magic.

Specific things she did that were magical: her twirling (which is just as good in person as it is in the videos one obsessively watches on, how she convinced me to start dressing like a gypsy, how she is 66 and does a three-hour show in five-inch heels.

At one point in the show, Stevie told the story of how, after making some cash opening for Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, she went to the expensive clothing store in San Francisco where all the great women of rock bought their infamous garb. She walked in and stood on its painted floor, which she very much adored, and had a vision. And in the vision she saw the five of them, Fleetwood Mac.

Stevie Nicks can also, then, see the future. And, of course, it all comes together when you consider her guest appearance on American Horror Story: Coven. 

3. The band members are all equally amazing and talented.

To reiterate: we had the real deal – Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, John McVie, and Mick Fleetwood. And they didn’t let us forget it.

All but John McVie, who hovered quietly in the background like most bass players do, took their turns at being solo on stage. Lindsey turned “Big Love” into the coolest acoustic guitar solo of all time. Think August Rush. Christine took “Songbird,” the final encore rightly to herself and her piano. Stevie, accompanied by Lindsey, melted hearts with a soulful and deliberate version of “Landslide,” and Mick took a ten-minute drum solo that involved him aggressively and repeatedly shouting into his headset, “Give it up!”

4. Our generation does not nearly appreciate Fleetwood Mac as much as it should.

My friend and I were the only college-people near us. It was us two and the fifty-somethings of the greater Rhode Island area. Thrice, we saw guys of our age walking up the stairs in the aisle near our seat, but only those three times and only on that one staircase did we see young adults.

People!!!! This may have been your final chance!!!! Where were you?!?!?!? Brown is supposed to be a school for flower children who have an impeccable music taste. Or so I thought. Ugh.

Most of the old people around us were sitting for the entirety of the show, which made us two dancing college maidens seem wild and rambunctious, and mostly annoying. We were just being “taken by the sky,” if you catch my drift.

I know, I know. Broke college students don’t want to pay for a concert. But still. Fleetwood Mac!!!!!!

5. Lindsey Buckingham is an unreal guitarist.

I mean, who knew?

6. Fleetwood Mac is a very talkative band.

Multiple points throughout the night, each band member took his or her turn at SPEECH! SPEECH! SPEECH! Incidentally, this is also how the band ended its show: first, with a speech by Mick Fleetwood, praising the holy Christine McVie, and then a final one by her royal Stevie, who sneakily snatched the mic once everyone else left the stage, admitted she wanted her time alone on stage. It seemed like everyone was taking an impromtu free-for-all at the mic so that you never really know if they were interluding in between songs or if they were closing the show or what. At the time, neither me nor my friend could tell if the band was performing encores or if they were just taking very long, dark breaks in between songs since they’re all kind of old to be playing three-hours shows. I only know they did encores from this ProJo article. Finally, Stevie gave her last two cents and the lights went up. It was sad, though, how they all sounded like they were giving these genuine, real goodbyes that you could feel inside of you.

7. You make your own memories.

While we were waiting for the band to go on, I couldn’t help but think how excited I was to tell my kids that I saw the great Fleetwood Mac when I went to Brown, and I saw them right in Providence. It’s not that, while in college, we should do things for the sake of the memory – or the Instagram post – that follows, but we should do the types of things that will create supersweet memories. Seeing a band like Fleetwood Mac live is enough to take you way out of College Hill’s bubble. You go to another world. I suppose that’s why I’ve always loved live music so much.

8. Great bands are great for a reason.

Fleetwood Mac put on the perfect comeback show because they properly balanced proving that they could still sound identical to the way they did when they originally recorded in the early seventies (like in “Don’t Stop”) and giving us something raw and live (like Stevie and Lindsey’s slowed, whispered version of “Never Going Back Again”).

Fleetwood Mac is classic because they will always make twirling cooler than twerking.

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