Fleetwood Mac may be one of the season's three biggest roadshows, but it is without equivocation the one not to miss. The members of the reunited contingent have never sounded better or more in sync than during Friday's sold-out performance at the Irvine venue on the first of a three-night stand. Though the presentation was filled with repertoire nuggets, it was more than an enjoyable exercise in nostalgia. It also provided one inescapable truth: Lindsey Buckingham is one of the music industry's greatest talents --- and perhaps one of the most underrated.
The band tapped all of its big gun hits: “The Chain,” “Rhiannon” and “Go Your Own Way,” among others, with each member getting their respective solo turns to try and wow the sold-out house; from Mick Fleetwood’s drumming with the precision of a Swiss timepiece to Christine McVie’s lilting vocals and mellifluous keyboard work.But the charismatic Buckingham — as soloist and bandmember — frequently usurped the spotlight from his cohorts with evocative performances, which were by turns filled with the seasoning of a pro and the enthusiasm of a newcomer eager for the crowd’s adulation. His signature white-knuckled guitar licks were exemplary without being overwrought. His vocal work was uncompromising. His songwriting acumen was highlighted on such tracks as “The Chain,” “Big Love” and “Bleed to Love Her,” the latter a pristine, well-crafted ballad featured on the band’s Reprise Records disc “The Dance,” which the tour is supporting. Fans of all ages have clearly embraced the band’s reunion and tour, given the crowd’s composition crossing all demographics, even with a top ticket price of $125, and the brisk sales pace of the new album. The masses also frequently communicated their desire for another reunion — the coupling of Stevie Nicks and Buckingham. The duo’s work on “Landslide” culminated in a hug that was met with one of the evening’s biggest ovations and evoked recollections of the potent, but under-recognized Buckingham-Nicks project, their 1973 pre-Mac pairing. Glances between them were also met with spontaneous applause. Nicks similarly shined bright, with her trademark vocals rounding out the band’s impeccable choral barrage. Her work on such tracks as “Sweet Girl” and the disc’s single, “Silver Springs,” demonstrates what a unique talent she is. But an amped-up version of “Stand Back,” (ironically a hit from her days as a solo act) where Nicks’ gritty vocals were aided by flashing strobe lights which turned the venue into a thumping, giant Studio 54, was among the evening’s most memorable moments. The band’s no-frills set boasted the expected roadshow lighting complement, but was devoid of any huge video screens, mammoth logos or inflatable characters — like other supergroup tours in the marketplace — and allowed the music to take center stage without distraction.