Tim de LiSLe GiG of The week

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - MUSIC -

Sco­tia­bank Arena, Toronto

Af­ter 51 years, Fleet­wood Mac are still pop’s big­gest soap opera. The lat­est episode finds one of the main char­ac­ters, Lind­sey Buck­ing­ham, be­ing sacked by the oth­ers (among them an ex of his). He re­sponds by su­ing them for $14 mil­lion, the amount he says he would have made from this tour, which I caught in Canada (it ar­rives at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium on June 16 next year).

On stage, Buck­ing­ham isn’t men­tioned, but he does re­ceive a com­pli­ment: two men are re­quired to re­place him. His role as the band’s only male singer goes to Neil Finn from Crowded House. In a bla­tant bid to add some youth­ful en­ergy, Fleet­wood Mac have sent for a 60-year-old.

Finn might be the old­est new re­cruit ever to join a great group, were it not for Buck­ing­ham’s other suc­ces­sor – Mike Camp­bell, ace gui­tarist with Tom Petty’s Heart­break­ers, at 68. The $14 mil­lion ques­tion is whether all this makes Fleet­wood Mac a dif­fer­ent band. The an­swer is yes and no.

They still play al­most all the hits you’re hop­ing for, though per­son­ally I miss the beau­ti­ful shim­mer of Sara. They still have Ste­vie Nicks (now 70) danc­ing with her scarf, Chris­tine McVie (75) rel­ish­ing her come­back from re­tire­ment in ru­ral Kent, and John McVie hid­ing un­der a white cap. They still find room for a drum solo by Mick Fleet­wood that is so re­li­ably aw­ful that ev­ery­one else aban­dons the stage.

But some things have changed. Tusk Finn brings an airier voice than Buck­ing­ham, and a far warmer pres­ence: he looks thrilled to be there. Camp­bell nails the so­los with­out hog­ging the lime­light, as Buck­ing­ham tended to do. The one song he brings from the Heart­break­ers, Free Fallin’, slots right in, with Nicks lend­ing a woozy sad­ness to her friend Tom Petty’s lines. The song Finn brings from Crowded House, Don’t Dream It’s Over, is less of a fit but more of a treat. ‘This is a song of unity,’ Finn says, and he shows it with a melt­ingly sim­ple ren­di­tion, just him and his acous­tic gui­tar and 18,000 peo­ple singing ‘Hey now, hey now’. It’s the high­light of the night, which is say­ing some­thing. Just be­hind are sev­eral tracks from Ru­mours, Fleet­wood Mac’s mas­ter­piece, cur­rently spend­ing its 756th week in the UK al­bum chart. Dreams, Go Your Own Way and Don’t Stop can make you swoon while also im­press­ing you all over again with their metic­u­lous car­pen­try. ‘Yes­ter­day’s gone,’ we all yell. Not yet it hasn’t.

On stage in Toronto: Ste­vie Nicks and, above, Neil Finn from Crowded House

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