Fleetwood Mac - Talking Stick Resort Arena - 12/10/2014

Fleetwood Mac still has it, or at least part of it.
Fleetwood Mac still has it, or at least part of it.
Jim Louvau

"Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies" is a lyric I could go my whole life without hearing again. It's not that it isn't a catchy little piece of an innocuous pop/rock song. Christine McVie's lyric is exactly that, but I just don't like it. I also hate myself for mentioning Christine McVie so early in this review, but I guess she's at the forefront of my mind, just like she was for her fellow members of Fleetwood Mac all Wednesday night.

And no, I don't hate Fleetwood Mac. I don't love them, either. There are about 375 bands I would rather listen to, though, and in all honesty, I typically turn to a different radio station when a song by Fleetwood Mac comes on the radio, which says a lot. Phoenix radio, like Fleetwood Mac, leaves a lot to be desired in keeping and maintaining my interest.

See also: Why Fleetwood Mac's Tusk Is Better Than Rumours

There were bright spots Wednesday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena (or whatever they call it these days) in downtown Phoenix, though. The shine, for example, off of the bald spots of the older gents waiting in line was bright. A Fleetwood Mac show is an awesome opportunity to ogle a vast assortment of middle- and upper-middle class Phoenicians (i.e., white people) getting their party on downtown on a school night. I knew it was going to be good when I spied a 55-ish, pretty, well-dressed gal downing airplane-size bottles of booze while we waited in line to go in to the arena.

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Once inside, it was a cavalcade of Ralph Lauren fans, and though there were not as many shawls as I thought there would be, plenty of gals were sporting the Stevie Nicks look, which seems like it should be a concert-going faux pas, akin to wearing the shirt of the band you are going to see. I never realized there was such a connection between Fleetwood Mac and the goth community, but it does sort of make sense now, as they both like to dress in all black and wear lots of boots and flowing skirts.

The lines for booze were long, as you might expect, and some of the folks looked like another drink was the last thing they needed, but it's safe to say there would be no Fleetwood Mac fans put in chokeholds or tasered in Phoenix, even if they got a little disorderly. Folks who secured a drink clutched it like some sort of prize as they hurried to their seats, and hurry they had to, because the Mac was on shortly after 8 p.m.  

Fleetwood Mac - Talking Stick Resort Arena - 12/10/2014
Jim Louvau

When the band took the stage, it was clear they are rock 'n' roll royalty. They were not in the greatest form as there were a few stumbles here and there, but songs like "The Chain" and "You Make Loving Fun" are phenomenal songs to drop at the beginning of your set. The parade of hits continued from there, and even though, as mentioned, I am not a huge Mac fan, I recognized nearly every song in their almost three-hour set.

The 71-year-old Christine McVie looks and sounds great, and the band was clearly happy to have her back. It seemed they welcomed her between almost every song, with only her ex-husband, bassist John McVie, not saying anything. My heart went out to John McVie a few times, actually, as the sound man helped him through a couple of rough patches by turning him down in the mix when he seemed to get lost early on in the set. Sixty-five-year-old Lindsey Buckingham, the baby in the group, put on an awesome display of guitar work throughout the evening, and as drummer Mick Fleetwood pointed out, Buckingham hardly left the stage at all.

Buckingham stole the show (at least for me), with the absolute highlight being "Tusk," which was smack dab in the middle of the set. Between Buckingham's enthusiasm for the song and a really cool video show going on behind the band, "Tusk" was just flat-out rocking and hit all the primal peaks it was intended to have. Full disclosure: I purchased the 45 of this song at Smitty's on Hatcher and Cave Creek when it came out, so maybe I'm more of a Fleetwood Mac fan than I thought. When Buckingham yells, "Don't tell me that you love me" on "Tusk," it felt so much more real than a lot of the other schmaltzy vocal interplay between Nicks and Buckingham during many other songs.

Stevie Nicks is a clown. I know, I am going to suffer greatly for saying it, but she's become a parody of herself. It took about seven or eight songs before she warmed up, vocally, and the dancing. ... Oh, lord, the dancing is awful. The incredibly intoxicated dude behind me couldn't get enough of it, though, and after he filmed some of her killer moves, he promptly announced he was going to "break the Internet" by, presumably, uploading the video from his phone. I will give her credit for a really, really great rendition of "Landslide" and some seemingly sincere (not quite touching) words about her fondness for Phoenix.

All in all, I had a really good time, but probably not for the same reasons the hardcore Fleetwood Mac fans did. They have a ton of good, recognizable songs and it was cool to see them, even though I'm not going to grab one of my wife's CDs of theirs anytime soon and jam out. They are goofy and full of themselves, although Christine McVie (despite hearing her welcomed back, ad nauseam) doesn't come off that way. Somebody should tell Mick Fleetwood the drum solo is completely unnecessary and not even mildly impressive, unless you count his obvious talent at flicking his tongue, but he does a really nice job of holding down the beat (however similar they may be) on the vast majority of their songs.

If you missed the show, be bummed, I suppose. Lindsey Buckingham put on a clinic for how to fingerpick his exquisite guitars like a boss. Even if he does sort of look like a cross between Neil Patrick Harris and Sting, the guy has skills for days and plays to the crowd as well as anyone I've ever seen. Just don't ask me to like Stevie Nicks, please, and yes, she did mention American Horror Story, which I feel close to right now, as I may never get the vision of her dancing out of my head. It was apparent, though, her dancing is quite catchy, since about 20 drunken ladies in our vicinity were mimicking her moves and sweetly singing along with their eyes tightly closed every time Nicks took the lead on a song. Maybe that's what magic looks like.

Is it, Stevie?

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Fleetwood Mac at Talking Stick Resort Arena

Personal Bias: Seeing Stevie Nicks on American Horror Story completely ruined any chance of my ever having respect for her "talents."

Overheard in the Crowd: "I was trying to take a selfie and I dropped my phone under your seat."

Random Notebook Dump: After the show, the corner of First Street and Jefferson looked like some sort of post-yuppie apocalypse.

Fleetwood Mac - Talking Stick Resort Arena - 12/10/2014
Jim Louvau

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Talking Stick Resort Arena

201 E. Jefferson St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

602-379-2000


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