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Lost in Mac-Land

Some weeks ago, in a hockey arena on the Eastern seaboard of the United States, I journeyed to see Fleetwood Mac, now featuring Neil Finn, in concert. I have been fortunate to see Neil perform many times in various configurations. As for Fleetwood Mac, I had never previously seen them live.

Waiting for the show to start, I noticed quite a few audience members wearing Stevie Nicks-style top hats. That was a tipoff.

The band entered to a hissing, rattling sound. Eleven people on stage, six in the band and five others behind them. A large projection screen with netting around it hung over the stage. A fake chandelier descended for a couple of Stevie's songs; big light bulbs appeared for a couple of Christine's. The crowd stood up the whole time, and seemed into it. Neil Finn was, in fact, on stage.

It was largely Stevie Nicks's show. The crowd went nuts for her. To my ears, Christine McVie's songs made less of an impact. I could have done without Mick Fleetwood's 10-minute drum solo, or Oh, Well, which was a Mike Campbell blues showcase.

Neil sings lead on Lindsey Buckingham's songs, and established himself early with Second-Hand News. (Christine complemented him after that song: "Good one, Mr. Finn!") Second-Hand News may be a fine Fleetwood Mac song, but it's no Distant Sun.

Midway through the show, after an introduction from Mick Fleetwood, Neil performed an acoustic Don't Dream It's Over, the only one of his own compositions in the setlist. The hall lit up with iPhones, and Stevie sang the last verse. Then Neil fingerpicked Landslide (a song so good that Neil could have written it) for Stevie. These two songs were very much the highlights for my Finn-centric ears.

I kept hoping (unreasonably) for a Neil Finn show to break out. Perhaps Fleetwood Mac would back him up on Private Universe or She Will Have Her Way. Perhaps they would perform a new song. But that didn't happen. After DDIO Neil went back to being a band member, and the setlist plowed on. 

One of the things I admire about Neil is his willingness to try new things. Being part of (really co-leading) a giant act like this is no easy task, and he pulls it off. But the concert didn't really connect for me as a Finn fan. There wasn't much chance for Neil's musical inventiveness, spirit, or humor to punch through. Neil is a generous collaborator, and he does a great job for the band. But this was a Fleetwood Mac show for Fleetwood Mac fans. 

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    All times London, UK.

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