UNCASVILLE — After enjoying modest success as a hard rocking blues band throughout the late 1960s and early ‘70s, Fleetwood Mac catapulted its presence to the center of the rock-and-roll radar screen in 1975, after acquiring the talents of a pair of musical star-crossed lovers – Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.
While the rhythm section of band co-founders Mick Fleetwood and John McVie continues to anchor the band’s material — including a brand new song — the talents of Buckingham and Nicks were a driving force behind the band’s satisfying 2½-hour show April 20 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Opening with the upbeat “Second Hand News,” Fleetwood Mac wove its way through a hit-laden set of material, inserting a few lesser-known cuts and reworking several others enough to keep things interesting, but not so much as to frustrate the fans.
Since the current tour is celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the monster selling album Rumors, nearly a third of the songs played were drawn from that seminal project. “The Chain,” “Dreams” and “Don’t Stop,” were delivered virtually note for note.
But other cuts like “Gold Dust Woman,” with its extended frenetic jam, the sprightly acoustic “Never Going Back Again,” and explosive “Go Your Own Way,” seemed to be infused with renewed energy that fired up both the band and audience.
A new song that Buckingham teased would be on a soon-to-be-released EP was well received. The medium-tempo “Sad Angel” showcased some great tight harmonies between Nicks and Buckingham, while a tune that is new to the band’s live repertoire, “Eyes of the World,” was amped up by Fleetwood’s thundering drum rolls.
The show also featured “Without You,” a long lost ballad that Nicks said was recently rediscovered. She explained that it was not only the song that convinced Mick Fleetwood to ask the duo to join the band, but also represented the epitome of love songs generated between herself and Buckingham when they were young lovers making their way into the music business in 1970.
“Rhiannon,” “Sisters of the Moon,” “Sara” and “Gypsy” provided additional opportunities for Nicks to do what she does best, delving into the character of each subject and articulating the material as though it was being sung from a first-person perspective.
Her vocals on “Landslide” were almost overpowered by the audience singing along, but instead of tolerating it, Nicks embraced the accompaniment graciously thanking the fans and complimenting them for their enthusiasm.
Despite Nicks’ costume changes and occasional break away spin dancing, Buckingham consistently remained centerpiece of the show, switching between acoustic and electric guitars and mesmerizing with blistering leads and staccato rhythm playing.
His solo take on “Big Love” was unmatched, as a huge banner unfurled behind him serving as a giant vertical projection screen and amplifying his slight frame to three story high proportions. Buckingham also approached “Tusk” differently, taking a couple of verses in slow, free form before the familiar drumbeat and blaring horn samples kicked in.
The Nicks solo hit “Stand Back” represented the band’s single departure from the Fleetwood Mac catalog, but it seemed to get the entire band rejuvenated, including bassist McVie, who up until that point remained glued to the right of Fleetwood’s drum kit. The chugging bass line saw McVie moving back and forth to the beat, apparently enjoying the novelty groove.
The first encore provided a chance for Fleetwood to take an extended drum solo, which proved he still has the stamina to churn an audience into a primal frenzy. The second encore brought the energy level back down as the band closed out the show with the sweet strains of “Silver Springs,” a number that was intended for inclusion on Rumors, but originally saw the light of day as the flip side to the single “Don’t Stop.”
Besides the core four members, supporting musicians Neale Heywood on guitars, Brett Tuggle on keyboards, guitars, Lori Perry Nicks and Sharon Celani on backing vocals all get high marks for their roles in helping re-create the authentic Fleetwood Mac sound.
With all of the classic acts touring this spring and summer, it might be easy to relegate Fleetwood Mac to the “been there, seen that” category. But based on the sheer quality of the band’s performance during stop nine of this extended tour, and the quantity of hits they are stacking into the setlist, Fleetwood Mac appears to have at least a few good years left as a top-flight destination for concertgoers.