Last night was the San Diego stop in Fleetwood Mac’s 2009 Unleashed Tour. The concert was at the San Diego Sports Arena, not exactly a venue known for great acoustics, in fact, it’s one of the worst in town, but the bright side is that I finally got to see Fleetwood Mac in concert for the first time ever. It was definitely one of the best concerts I’ve been to in a long time and it was just one of the most magical evenings in a long time.
The show had a lot of obstacles to overcome for me in the sense that the venue is old and crappy, the acoustics are terrible, and what seemed to add insult to injury is that they were charging an insanely ridiculous $20 for parking in the Sports Arena lot, which is really torn up and in terrible condition. Sheesh, not even Disneyland charges that much for parking, and their parking lot and structure are immaculate. And yet, despite all of these obstacles, the concert was phenomenal, probably as close to a religious experience as one gets for a non-church goer.
Stevie Nicks was in excellent form throughout the show, not only was she singing beautifully, she was quite personable on stage. I had seen her once on one of her solo tours in 2001 and she could barely muster a “Hello San Diego” then, perhaps because that tour was right around September 11th, I don’t know, but she was like a gracious host to the Fleetwood Mac concert last night. Not only was she very warm to the audience, she even commented how nostalgic it was to be playing the San Diego Sports Arena as she recounted a story about the very first time her and Lindsey Buckingham went out on a tour as an opening act and one of the venues on that tour was the San Diego Sports Arena. She commented how the place and its dressing rooms looked the same as on that first time on tour.
Lindsey Buckingham was absolutely amazing on guitar all night long. It literally felt like being in the presence of a rock god to watch him play guitar. I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my time but never have I witnessed such skill on the guitar. While extended guitar solos in other shows often feel quite gratuitous and self indulgent on the part of those acts, Lindsey clearly deserves the right to shine and even though he took several opportunities to perform guitar solos, it felt conservative.
Mick Fleetwood also had a drum solo that was equally as entertaining to watch as Lindsey’s guitar solos. It’s very clear these men are extremely talented when it comes to mastery of their instruments. Perhaps the closest we got to Stevie Nicks getting a solo was the performance of one of her solo songs, “Stand Back” by the band. It seems the only one not feeling the need to have a solo moment was John McVie. He seemed quite content to expertly play his bass guitar in the background only taking the spotlight when Mick Fleetwood introduced him to the audience.
The on-stage chemistry between everyone was phenomenal too. It was clear there was no tension, there were no dirty looks shot across the stage as certain lines in songs known to be used for dirty looks in the past were sung. It seems that because there was no new album to promote that it allowed for the freedom for the lineup of songs to be as close to a greatest hits tour as possible. They said that the selections of songs for the tour was based on the idea that they wanted to present the songs they most enjoyed performing. It definitely looked like everyone on stage was having a great time.
My all time favorite Fleetwood Mac song is “Gypsy” so it’s always a treat to watch Stevie Nicks perform that song. She spoke briefly about how as a musician she often feels like a Gypsy while on tour, which helped a little bit explain the song. I’ve always loved the song and yet I really can’t explain why, the lyrics don’t make much sense to me, I don’t get any specific image to mind when I hear it, but I just love the song. All I can say with complete assurance is that the song makes me feel good when I hear it.
I really enjoyed the performance of the song “Say You Love Me” which is a Christine McVie song. Stevie and Lindsey shared the responsibility of singing the song in Christine’s absence. I think it was a great way to acknowledge Christine’s role in the band’s history even though she’s not been involved in this or the previous tour. Its a fun song, and I’m thrilled the group decided to include it in the tour this time around. It’s so easy to just no do the songs by the group member not present, and I think it was very classy of the rest of the group to do the song anyway.
In all I’m really glad I took the chance to see Fleetwood Mac this time around. I only bought the ticket a couple of weeks before the show. I hadn’t thought about going until then because the previous tour the tickets were so insanely expensive that I just wasn’t willing to spend that much on a concert. This time around I looked at what the various price levels were and I opted for a $50 ticket which was just one level up from the cheapest seats. Normally I like to get the best seats possible (who doesn’t really?) but decided I wanted to experience Fleetwood Mac more than I cared about how good the seat was. And these days, with the technology available, there’s usually video screens to give those of us in the cheap seats a better view of what’s going on up on the stage. So I’m really glad I went.
Another great thing about the show was that I haven’t been to a concert in San Diego before where the audience showed so much love for the act on stage. The audience was absolutely rapturous for Fleetwood Mac. The outpouring of screams, applause, and even singing along was unlike any other concert experience I’ve ever been to. Just to see that was amazing. And you could tell these were dedicated fans, not the fly by night because the act is “flavor of the week” like a lot of current top acts. Fleetwood Mac is a band where their chart success is for the most part, largely behind them, they aren’t the latest and greatest (in that sense), but they are definitely solid. The concert experience was definitely something to be witnessed and I feel quite privileged to have finally gotten the chance to experience Fleetwood Mac in 2009.