Still go­ing their own way

De­spite form­ing back in the ’ 60s, Fleet­wood Mac are stronger than ever, writes Nui Te Koha

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MUSIC - Fleet­wood Mac will play at Melbourne’s Rod Laver arena on Tues­day, Novem­ber 26. Tick­ets go on sale June 13. For com­plete tour and ticket in­for­ma­tion go to www.live­na­tion.com.au

‘WE know how lucky we are,” drum­mer Mick Fleet­wood said. “But we’re very se­ri­ous about what we do. That’s why we’re still here.”

The back story of break- ups, make- ups and their in­sa­tiable drink and drug habits are as fa­mous as the band – even Fleet­wood ad­mit­ted it’s a bless­ing they’re tour­ing stronger than ever.

But as Fleet­wood re­vealed a list of rit­u­als he fol­lows when the band tours, it’s a mir­a­cle any­body made it to the stage.

“We are all crea­tures of habit,” Fleet­wood said. “I still do this thing where, if I’m in the toi­let, I’ll open the door a cer­tain way and flush it three times … if I haven’t done it, I’ll go back and do it.

“It used to be re­ally bad, though. I would have, on my way to the stage, lit­tle things I’d left there. There was a penny which I’d pick up in the spot where I’d left it and put in my pocket as I walked to the stage. But if any of that was up­set or the coin dis­ap­peared, I would think I’m cursed. We were very su­per­sti­tious.”

Fleet­wood said the rit­u­als some­times in­cluded back­stage drug use.

“In the old days, there was a def­i­nite rou­tine of how we jug­gled our sub­stances,” he said.

“Did we [ take drugs be­fore per­form­ing]? Yes. But not of­ten – dur­ing the show and af­ter the show, is when the trou­ble started.”

How­ever, Fleet­wood’s most pow­er­ful rit­ual while on the road is deeply per­sonal.

“I won’t get on a plane un­less I have this,” he said, reach­ing into a sup­ple leather bag, “my fa­ther’s fly­ing scarf.” His dad was a Royal Air Force fighter pilot. “I never get on a flight with­out it. The band wouldn’t like to get on the plane if I didn’t have dad’s fly­ing scarf. It keeps us safe.”

But the band clearly have an­other good luck charm: each other.

Ste­vie Nicks’ voice is in ca­reer- best shape, par­tic­u­larly for Dreams and Land­slide, while freak­ish gui­tarist Lind­sey Buck­ing­ham sings in­tensely on the stand­out Big Love.

The engine room of Fleet­wood and bassist John McVie keeps the Mac hits steady, pow­er­ing up on Tusk and The Chain.

Buck­ing­ham said the strong per­son­al­i­ties in the band made for a unique group.

“I’m not say­ing we don’t be­long in a band to­gether,” he said. “I am say­ing we are an un­likely group of peo­ple to have come to­gether.

“You see it on pa­per and ask: ‘ Well, how’s that go­ing to work?’ Our tastes are quite dis­parate and yet it is that cast of char­ac­ters, that very push- pull dy­namic that cre­ates parts larger than the sum of it.”

Last month, Buck­ing­ham said he wished Fleet­wood Mac would fol­low The Ea­gles’ model of do­ing busi­ness. Asked to ex­plain his com­ments, Buck­ing­ham said: “[ The Ea­gles’] rep­u­ta­tion is such that they don’t get along.

“But some­how they’re able to cut through that, do the busi­ness they’re able to do, get done what they need to do as a group, and see their way clear to the com­mon ob­jec­tive.”

Mean­while, there are plans to re­lease a 40th an­niver­sary spe­cial of Buck­ing­ham Nicks, the 1973 al­bum Ste­vie and Lind­sey made be­fore join­ing Fleet­wood Mac.

The pair’s past love af­fair plays out in their new show, dur­ing a soft em­brace in Sara, and touch­ing fin­ger­tips in Land­slide. The au­di­ence is still en­chanted by their long- faded ro­mance.

“By the time we got to Ru­mours, Ste­vie had both feet out the door,” Buck­ing­ham said.

“She left me. It was dif­fi­cult to be the guy who had to go back to the stu­dio, pro­duce her songs, and make the choice to do the right thing for her pro­fes­sion­ally, even though it was painful to be around her per­son­ally.

“But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

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