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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Thank's for the review, exactely my fears. When i read Mac is coming to Germany i was automatically in booking modus, look for a ticket, flight, hotel ... but my fear was this could be a disappointment. Saw the Finns in January in Amsterdam, i was soooooo happy, a neil show is better than any psychotherapy ! And got the new album signed by the 3 finns. So I'm not going to Berlin, i'll wait for the next Finn-whatever show in europe !

Hi Bush Pig, here's another resident of Germany and I thought and did EXACTLY the same as you (except that I saw the Finns in Birmingham and Bristol).

Jabberz, thanks for the review. I reckon it was clear from start that it's a show for FM fans, but the fact that there's no spontaneity and silly jokes and other typical Neil stuff, which might have made it a good night out for us,  makes it very un-Finn-ish and thus, I've decided, rather unsuitable for people of our persuasion :-) 

I’m sorry the night didn’t turn out as you’d have preferred, but I’m also not sure why anyone would have expected the show to be part Neil Finn gig. He’s a singer and guitarist in Fleetwood Mac. The fact that they’re giving him DDIO is nice, but I think it’s indicative of how they view Neil’s contribution that Christine doesn’t play the organ part, it’s left to the auxiliary keyboard player. DDIO is an intermission, really. The earlier shows also featured I Got You, which they did a good version of, but like many other interesting tracks from this tour, didn’t make it past the first few weeks.

I agree with you that it was a missed opportunity not to take advantage of Neil’s abilities as a front man - the little bit of interaction he gets is by doing Lindsay’s old “1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4” routine. 

It’s not a NF gig, it’s Neil joining another band. I happen to like that other band, so I had a good time, but no one should go expecting him to improvise the verse of Never Be The Same at the start of a song, because that’s not how FM has ever worked.

 

Ive already come to realise that in watching the snippets on youtube that i can pretty much watch the show without forking out big moolah ... 

it’s all scripted and lacking in spontaneity in the way neil use to have a dig at sting shows being exactly the same every night ...

when u see mick fleetwood at every show reading an autocue about how he came across a song years ago by a man who he’d never met and now that man is here to sing it i think, meh ....it makes DDIO that bit more commodified....

good luck to neil ... he’s having fun but i dont feel the need to traipse out to a stadium to see this one.

this will pass the time til another side project with the fam before bringing out the crowdies for a ‘this time it’s for real farewell best of album and tour’ .. 2021-22 id guess.

enjoy it and him while it lasts - he’s a genius who’s played an enormous part in my music loving life ... and for that im very grateful.

 

I was a tad saddened that I didn't board the bandwagon when FM came through town. I respect Neil's gifts and humble behavior onstage with the Mac. Yet, the repetitive, scripted banter lacks its luster once viewed on youtube many times prior.

But opportunity knocked and Neil answered. And signed up for the show, as written. Have to admit, sharing that my fave musician for 30+ years is frontman for Fleetwood Mac adds credence to his talent, to my many friends and relatives who are aware of this somewhat unknown yet immensely keen musician.

So I missed an opportunity to share his performance with my ten year old, for some five hundred dollars I didn't have.  I'm optimistic we'll get another shot. And unlike some psychotherapy, We'll surely get our money's worth!

 

Based on the interview with Mike Campbell published today it's now pretty certain we're not going to get a new Fleetwood Mac album with this line-up. By the time Stevie Nicks finishes her solo tour starting next year (slated by Mike to last 18 months) Christine McVie and other members of the band will be closing in on 80.  

I think this is going to end up an interesting but ultimately irrelevant footnote in Neil's career.  A nice little earner and fun for him I'm sure.  But looks like this will be the only incarnation of Fleetwood Mac not to record any music.  Even the short-lived Rick Vito/Billy Burnette version of the band in the late 80s managed to record an album.  The most we can hope for I guess is a DVD from the tour.

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