Music preview: Fleetwood Mac
Return of the Mac – now with added Christine McVie
At their peak in the mid-to-late 70s, Fleetwood Mac were as notorious for their personal bust-ups as they were celebrated for their music. They gave MOR a good name on their mega-selling album Rumours while living out one of pop music’s most salacious soap operas, as every single band member went through either divorce, relationship breakdown or ill-fated affairs with each other.
These fractious internecine relationships added a dramatic edge to their very easy listening music and certainly didn’t hurt the group’s profile. Crucially, they didn’t break the band as a unit and the mighty Mac went on to record the experimental Tusk, and the soft rock and slick pop offerings Mirage and Tango in the Night before the cracks began to show.
Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham left in the late 80s, then the band broke up entirely in the mid-90s. The hiatus was short-lived but soon after regrouping, they were hit by their most long-term loss when keyboard player and co-vocalist Christine McVie announced she was going.
Her crippling fear of flying had made touring a tad tricky and, in her own words, she was ‘musiced out’. She retired to Kent and with her went some of Fleetwood Mac’s most direct and affecting songs. Her biggest hit ‘Don’t Stop’ stayed in the set, but ‘Songbird’, ‘Little Lies’, ‘Everywhere’ and ‘You Make Loving Fun’ – written about her affair with the band’s lighting engineer – all disappeared from the live show, as a mark of respect rather than in a fit of pique.
Sheryl Crow was mooted as a possible substitute at one point but in the end McVie proved irreplaceable. ‘There was always that space where the piano should be,’ she has noted. Fortunately for the Mac massive, the woman regarded by Stevie Nicks as her ‘mentor, big sister, best friend’ has realised that the country life isn’t for her after all and has returned to fill that void on the stoically titled On With the Show tour.
With the gang all back together, they have wasted no time working on a new album, the first to include McVie’s songs since 1995’s Time, while her timeless favourites also return to the fold.
Fleetwood Mac tour the UK from 8 Jun–8 Jul