I’ve been putting off writing this review because not only do I feel unqualified to say anything bad about Fleetwood Mac, ever, but there’s also so much history to the band and its members that have been instilled longer than how long I’ve been alive and I really don’t want to screw it up. But I’m here now and ready to take a stab at unpacking one of the best shows I’ve ever seen – and I’ve decided to throw in a minor history lesson of the band to give my readers context to the performance. Seeing Fleetwood Mac live was a huge milestone in my life and I’m excited to share my thoughts. This is more so a piece on my experience rather than a review because I really didn’t have any complaints or criticisms.
If you didn’t know already, Fleetwood Mac is one of the best-selling bands of ALL TIME. In 1967, Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and John Mayall were playing together in a band called The Bluesbreakers and Peter had suggested forming a new band – but McVie was on the fence as he was in another band and was unsure of taking a risk on a new venture. After playing a few more shows and adding two more members to the roster – Jeremy Spencer and Bob Brunning – McVie agreed to join as the permanent bassist. After lots of changes within the band, including a handful of musicians leaving & joining the band, Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham joined in 1974. Their self-titled album Fleetwood Mac hit number 1 in 1975.
A major throwback performance. Look at Stevie’s hair!
Fleetwood Mac’s second album, Rumors, produced 4 US Top 10 Singles and remained at the Number One spot on the American albums chart for 31 weeks. It has since sold over 40 million copies worldwide. Rumours is the eighth-highest-selling album ever.
Lots of turmoil hit the band during this era – romantic relationships were coming to an end although they continued to make music together. The 80s and early 90s were when the band truly started to crumble – Buckingham & Nicks both left the group. A full reunion occurred in 1997 (I was only three-years-old) and the band released new music in 2003.
Fast forward to 2018 and Lindsay Buckingham was fired from the band (you can read all about it here). He was replaced by Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Neil Finn of Split Enz and Crowded House.
Here’s the current lineup of Fleetwood Mac (and yes, this was copy and pasted from Wikipedia).
- Mick Fleetwood – drums, percussion (1967–1995, 1996–present)
- John McVie – bass guitar (1967–1995, 1996–present)
- Christine McVie – vocals, keyboards (1970–1995, 1996–1998, 2014–present)
- Stevie Nicks – vocals, percussion, piano (1974–1991, 1996–present)
- Mike Campbell – lead guitar, keyboards (2018–present)
- Neil Finn – vocals, rhythm guitar (2018–present)
The 2018 Fleetwood Mac tour (their 19th to date) was heavily rumored to be a farewell tour, despite the fact that the band is recording new music. It also faced controversy among fans since Buckingham was booted so harshly (according to him) from the band – which made fans question how the tour was going to go.
I saw Stevie Nicks perform solo last year in Indianapolis, but this was not the same thing as actually being able to see Fleetwood Mac as a band, and if I’m going to be honest, I really didn’t have that much knowledge on the band’s history before writing this post, so the drama among fans didn’t really concern me. I grew up listening to Fleetwood Mac on car rides w/ my family and the music is what mattered to me, and being able to hear my favorites live was going to be (and was) an experience even if Buckingham wasn’t on stage. I suppose not all fans feel this way though.
I first tried to get tickets to this show at United Center back in May – but I’m pretty sure the evil bots ate up all of the tickets because the show was declared “Sold Out” 2 minutes after they went on sale. I made it my mission to get into this show and ended up buying tickets that were diagonally behind the stage for about $85. They sound worse than they were – we could see everyone onstage, just not the backdrop or the screens that would zoom in on the band’s faces. If this was a show that heavily relied on theatrics, I would probably not recommend the seats, but going to see an artist solely because of their singing like Fleetwood Mac (or Adele) I really didn’t mind it.
The performance started around 8:15PM (with no opener) and believe me when I said they started off with a bang. The first song Fleetwood Mac performed was “The Chain,” complete with beautiful harmonies and elaborate guitar solos to solidify that Fleetwood Mac had arrived and were ready to rumble. Knowing that the band has so many massive songs, it was inevitable that the start of the show would include performances of their hits (it would have been impossible to leave them all for the end), they continued into the 24-song set with “Little Lies” and one of my favorite songs ever written, “Dreams.” I had specifically started listening to this song religiously over the past year or so and it was the most amazing time to be able to hear it live – it was like something I dreamed into fruition.
I can go on forever about this show but I will stick with sharing my personal highlights. I got to see Stevie perform solo in March of 2017 and it was an amazing show – but she didn’t sing a lot of big Fleetwood Mac songs (rightfully so, she has a lot of her own music) and I didn’t take the opportunity to see her perform in FM for granted even though I got to see her once before. Hearing her sing “Rhiannon” with the band was definitely a highlight – as well as hearing my all time favorite song EVER written, “Landslide.” When I saw her solo show she gave a huge backstory about the origin of the song, and looking back now I’m so happy I got hear that anecdote because she didn’t talk about it at all at this show.
Just about halfway through the set, Mick Fleetwood (on drums) had a killer drum solo that lasted nearly ten minutes as the rest of the group chilled out backstage (I would know – we could see them going back and forth into their dressing rooms). It was such an amazing experience to see someone at that caliber of musicianship completely kill it and even cooler since he’s the one who started the band. He’s 71 and still rocks it.
Despite the fact that lots of Fleetwood Mac fans have expressed their irritation about Buckingham getting “fired” from the band, having the new additions was a really cool aspect of this show – Neil Finn was in the band “Crowded House” who sings the very popular song “Don’t Dream It’s Over” (I’m sure most of you know the song but couldn’t name the artist, which is exactly the position I was in before the show). Anyway, Fleetwood Mac ended up performing the song, with Finn and Nicks on lead vocals. The same goes for the first song performed in the 3-song encore: Fleetwood Mac and Mike Campbell ended up performing the Tom Petty song “Free Fallin,” as well.
It was a once in a life opportunity to hear these songs sung by these musicians and it was something I’ll never forget. A silver lining to the fact that there was some drama with the band earlier this year.
“Gold Dust Woman” was another highlight – hearing Stevie in her element with this song, twirling onstage without a care in the world was something magical to experience – we need this sort of energy in 2018 and she’s been providing it for YEARS on YEARS on YEARS. (Did I say for years?)
The encore ended with “Don’t Stop,” another classic that took me YEARS to realize it was a Fleetwood Mac song – and “All Over Again” songs that felt like they solidified the entire set from start to finish – the ideal way to close a 2.5 hour show.
There were a few songs I would have really liked to hear live (Like “Seven Wonders”) but overall I was extremely satisfied with this setlist & performance from Fleetwood Mac. I think being able to see the stage front on would have enhanced the experience since they had a lot of visuals that correlated with the performances, but life isn’t perfect! I was just happy to be there, especially because this show sold out extremely fast and the tickets were going so fast. So if you are ever wondering if these seats at United Center are worth it, I’d say yes.
Click here to check out the rest of Fleetwood Mac’s tour dates.
10/25 – Mitski
10/30 – Maggie Rogers
11/12 – Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus
11/13 – Jessie Reyez
Click here to read the rest of my 2018 show reviews.