Photos by Chuck Holloway
Even an hour before the doors were scheduled to open, Atlanta’s massive Phillips Arena was already packed. Women in top hats and scarves were everywhere, members of the Stevie Nicks coven. A huge crowd surrounded the merch table, eagerly forking over $45-$50 for a single T-shirt. Any crowd this large is going to be loud, hundreds of people chattering at once, but there was a distinct buzz in this mob. Excitement, anticipation.
One gets only a few opportunities to see legendary bands, especially bands with members pushing seventy and known for internal strife. That’s why Fleetwood Mac’s “On With the Show” tour sold out Phillips Arena. Everyone wanted to see the classic lineup of Mick, Lindsey, Stevie, John and Christine, the lineup responsible for Rumors and Tusk, at least once.
The show was supposed to start at 8 p.m., but most of those in attendance didn’t find their seat and settle down until just before 8:30 p.m. when the lights finally started to dim. Nicks’ phoned-in performance of “Rhiannon” on last year’s season of “American Horror Story” may have left some fans apprehensive about the concert, and it’s even more surprising that Nicks gave a big shout out to the television show onstage considering her lackluster appearance. But any misgivings were quickly put to bed once the music started.
The excitement of Christine McVie’s return filtered into the stage performance and the entire band brought its A-game. Fleetwood Mac ran through all of its most popular songs, adding the Christine-centric numbers like “Songbird” and “Little Lies” back to its repertoire. Nicks’ Wonder Woman spin may have slowed a little over the years and her vocal register is a little lower now, but her voice has only grown huskier and bluesier. On signature songs like “Landslide,” she didn’t hesitate to go big. Even more impressive is the ferocity with which Mick Fleetwood still attacks his drums. The stubby white ends of his drumsticks looked more like mallets from the stage as the man hammered his kit mercilessly. Even in the cheap seats, every hit could be felt in the gut. Lindsey Buckingham only ever left the stage once during the two-plus hour show and his hands were blurs during his frenzied “Big Love” performance.
The stage setup was impressive. A massive video screen dominated the back of the stage and the lighting rig included three smaller video screens that could be individually lowered. These screens added an extra dimension to the stage, projected out toward the audience and occasionally dropped so low that they hung just above the heads of the band members, bathing them in light. The backing musician had their own little raised platform toward the back of the stage, causing them to be silhouetted against the video display.
Buckingham and Nicks were fond of introducing songs with little stories about themselves and/or the song. These introductions were interesting, though often digressive. During one such story by Nicks late in the show, the impish Fleetwood pranced up behind her wearing a shawl with bright red boots and top hat. He spun around in circles and pantomimed behind her. “I can get away with it,” he said. “She knows I love her.”
The “On With the Show” tour is a love letter to the fans. From content to quality, the show felt tailor made to please the audience. This is a rare chance to see an eminent band deliver an outstanding performance. It is absolutely a must see concert. New dates have recently been announced and Fleetwood Mac will be returning to Phillips Arena on March 25. Get tickets while you still can.
Gallery – Fleetwood Mac at The Phillips Arena 2014
Photos by Chuck Holloway