Words: Justin Hulford.
Even those that don’t know the music are aware of the band and will also know a handful of their songs, teetering as they do on the edges of pop and rock at times. Fleetwood Mac were undoubtedly one of those safe and accessible rock bands of yesteryear and despite numerous fall outs, marriages, divorces and more, are somehow still here to tell the tale.
Indeed a couple of shows last week were cancelled due to an unspecified illness to an unspecified band member. Perhaps the Grohlbreak from Gothenburg embarrassed them into performing at the IOW festival and then trekking north to Glasgow.
The Hydro was packed out by an eerily quiet crowd that mostly sat respectfully waiting for the band to finally make it on stage some time later than advertised and from then it was a bit of a mixed bag.
Yes, this was a good show and a big tick off the classic names list but it wasn’t convincing throughout. They opened with “The Chain” with Lindsey Buckingham’s vocals rough as old boots. It took two songs for him to get going and Christine McVie’s first vocal was a little hollow too. It was like they hadn’t fully warmed themselves up.
What was more surprising was that a handful of songs were fairly shabby, the band not tight at all and the sounds drifting out. I think Mick Fleetwood having a backup drummer behind him (oddly the one member of the backline not given verbal credit) can’t have been helping. Flip that to a number of tracks that were right on the money and it makes me wonder if these few were due to a lack of rehearsal. Surely not when people are paying fairly top dollar for the privilege?
But the big songs were all on show and the harmonies excellent, the tunes with more layers generally all coming through very well. And the bulk of the crowd seemed to really enjoy proceedings in that special “we don’t go to many gigs” sort of way.
I am glad I went but a number of irksome points need to be raised. Firstly Lindsay Buckingham is a very good guitarist, much better than I anticipated, but some of his strutting and posing was laughable. Secondly their encore was a little ropey with two “hits” sandwiching a truly awful drum solo accompanied by shouted sing along merged with cry for help from Mick. It was overlong, not very good and simply just too shouty. Being dressed like a giant leprechaun wearing a bright red top hat doesn’t mean you can do as you please. That extends to taking forever to introduce the band!
The end came and it was a slower number to close it out, a bit of a surprise really and its arrival did see a lot of people leaving. Fortunately it was Stevie Nicks at the vocal helm, as she had been for most of the best, dressed like the love child of Cyndi Lauper and Steve Tyler, and whilst throughout she was pretty much on the button when she knew she couldn’t make it her voice was such that her accommodation for its limits were still good quality.
So, worth going but I don’t need to see them again. It fell short of the last band of this sort of ilk I saw (The Eagles) and was all of its money. That surprised me as I really did think their musical performance, if not the stage show, would be at a higher level.