The Finn-infused version of Fleetwood Mac made their New Zealand debut last night with the first of four shows at Auckland’s Spark Arena.
I have a confession…when I heard about the ouster of Lindsey Buckingham and the fact that he was being replaced by Neil Finn and former Heartbreaker Mike Campbell, I found myself more interested in hearing the band live. After all, we all know what those five musicians are going to sound like, and they did their thing just a few years ago at Mt Smart Stadium. My only complaint was that it was Buckingham who left and not Nicks, but I do understand that Stevie carries more of a fanbase than Lindsey and I’m sure economics played a part in that decision.
So, here we are with a line-up consisting of Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, Neil Finn and Mike Campbell, along with five other musicians on stage to fill and musical holes…two backing vocalists, a guitarist, a keyboard player and a percussionist. To the band’s credit, these ringers weren’t tucked away and hidden, they were introduced and given appropriate amount of respect.
With no opening act in sight, the show got to business just after 8pm with a rather stunning version of The Chain, immediately putting to rest any doubts that this was, indeed, still the Fleetwood Mac that we all know and love.
Neil Finn’s first test came during Second Hand News as he traded lines with Stevie and he passed with flying colours.
For me, the interesting parts of the show were going to be when they wandered away from the expected songs and dug into the Fleetwood Mac legacy. The first incidence of this came with a version of Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green’s Black Magic Woman, also a hit for Santana. Stevie Nicks took the lead vocals, singing it, “through the eyes of a woman”, so that it began, “I’m a black magic woman”.
It worked beautifully, and it gave guitarist Mike Campbell his first real opportunity to show what he can do.
Christine McVie followed that with the lesser-known Everywhere from 1987’s Tango In The Night…although it seemed with every one of her songs, Christine’s voice grew fainter in the mix. By the end of the night, she was barely audible.
Neil then trotted out I Got You, a joyous, celebratory performance that had the entire crowd on their feet singing along.
From there it was back to the Mac and Rhiannon, then a 15 minute version of World Turning, complete with a trademark Mick Fleetwood drum solo.
While Man Of The World was OK, I was thinking that I’d rather hear a tribute to some of the fine music the band recorded between the Peter Green years and the Buckingham/Nicks years. The late guitarist Bob Welch wrote some fine tunes for the group in the early 70s and songs like Hypnotized, Bermuda Triangle or Sentimental Lady would have fit in nicely.
We did get one more Peter Green classic…a scorching version of Oh Well, driven again by Mike Campbell’s guitar playing.
Mick Fleetwood then came out from behind the kit to introduce Neil and his version of Don’t Dream Its Over…another highlight for the Auckland crowd.
Then it was all Fleetwood Mac til the end of the set with Gold Dust Woman sounding particularly strong, and Neil managing to fill in for Lindsey during closer Go Your Own Way.
The encore turned out to be a heartfelt tribute to Tom Petty as they sang Free Fallin’ while a montage of photos of Petty flashed by on the video screens. Finally, the night came to an end with a rousing Don’t Stop. Everyone in the room, band and fans seemed happily sung out and ready to call it a night.
With Mick Fleetwood and John McVie both in their 70s, it’s hard to say how long they can keep going, touring with shows of this magnitude. But, hey, against all odds, this is a band that has been going since 1967, so I wouldn’t bet against them now.
You can still catch Fleetwood Mac live in NZ at these dates:
SPARK ARENA, AUCKLAND SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14
SPARK ARENA, AUCKLAND MONDAY SEPTEMBER 16
SPARK ARENA, AUCKLAND THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 19
FORSYTH BARR STADIUM, DUNEDIN SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 21
Click any image to see a full gallery from Veronica McLaughlin Photography.
Fleetwood Mac set list:
- The Chain
- Little Lies
- Second Hand News
- Say You Love Me
- Black Magic Woman
- I Got You
- World Turning
- Man Of The World
- Oh Well
- Don’t Dream Its Over
- Hold Me
- You Make Lovin’ Fun
- Gold Dust Woman
- Go Your Own Way
- Free Fallin’
- Don’t Stop
- The Faithful: A Tribute To Marianne FaithfullVarious Artists(In The Q) - 6 December 2023
- Sally Stockwell Performs Pin It Down/Village: 13th Floor Singles Session - 6 December 2023
- Tommy Emmanuel Is Heading Back To New Zealand: Interview - 5 December 2023