On Thanksgiving night, trailing a history of British blues, Christian dropouts, pop megasuccess, marital breakups, personal breakdowns, solo breakaways, and this year’s reunion, megatour, and surprise-hit live CD, Fleetwood Mac found their way back to the Garden. There this combination of major hooksters, five-star rhythm section, fat egos, big jerks, and unlikely feminist icon dished out a two-and-a-half-hour hitfeast, trimmed with knee breeches, frock coat, baseball cap, chest hair, ponytails, spare balls on a string, gravity-defying suede platform boots, and, of course, spins.
Energetic throughout, they were worst when they tried too hard–Mick Fleetwood beating his body drumpads, Lindsey Buckingham soloing on the floor. One peculiarity of this band’s success, back when yuppies were tomorrow’s news, was that its relentless buoyancy sometimes seemed desperate, perhaps for success. They only loved us when they were playing, they admitted, and we probably weren’t the only ones. The emphasis on the group’s groupness, the real-life relationships behind the songs, inevitably raised questions about how real those lives were.
Today’s news is reform; Fleetwood’s investments get more press than his third marriage. So the sexiest real-life story belongs to Stevie Nicks, the group’s sole solo star and then its laughingstock, because a drug problem always looks cooler than a weight problem. Today her witchy shtick and praise songs to femmes fatales, her gutsier voice, and her public struggles with weight have given her character, even authority. Voice lessons didn’t prevent off-key passages or thinning timbre. But she alone carried her history with warmth, like a favorite aunt who’s not too reformed to get silly at someone else’s wedding.