Ah, the reunion tour – the cash cow that never loses its value. And, based on tonight’s evidence, we can’t say no to them. After all, in the midst of a recession the O2 is packed to the gills with punters, most of whom paid more than a pretty penny to be there. Adding to the long string of comeback gigs to grace these shores in recent years, Fleetwood Mac joined the ranks with a two night stint at the O2. With their last comeback tour somewhat immortalised as a piece of rock history, Mick Fleetwood pulled the original Rumours contingent together for the Unleashed 2009 World Tour (minus Christine McVie of course, who apparently declined the offer).
With no support act lined up and the stage clothed in darkness, all elements were in place for the crowd to nervously anticipate the show to come and as each band member took their place to kick things off with -Monday Morning’ the nervous tension peaked. Once the surreal sensation of seeing the Mac in the flesh wore off, it became clear that there was something of a sing-off taking place before us, with FM’s legendary rivalries surfacing. For a significant handful of songs, Nicks and Buckingham split vocal duties, with both guilty of hamming things up in an effort to own the show. As the tassled and shawled Stevie Nicks tottered around the stage in semi-slow motion in 4 inch heels, she almost managed to rekindle her 70s cool yet, despite the earlier murmurs of the crowd ahead of her entrance. Buckingham however was the undisputed show stealer. With his guitar-wielding swagger and powerful solos, the guitarist’s onstage presence, particularly on moments like -Big Love’, made him dominate the performance. Meanwhile, Stevie’s vocals remain top-notch (-Landslide’ affirmed this), so distinctive that even when she occasionally dropped the ball, it only endeared her further.
Let’s not forget the presence of Mick Fleetwood either, whose steady efforts belting away on the drums underpinned the entire performance. Although he looked physically sidelined by the two most famous band members, half of the group’s namesake was certainly not forgotten, as the huge cheer he garnered at the end rightfully displayed. Things were hammed up further with the sermon-like intervals where Nicks and Buckingham digressed on the band’s often troubled history, attempting to add to the symbolism of the event by harking back to their well-versed dramas. Admittedly it was a tactic that worked, reminding us of the rarity of the occasion by reiterating the group’s stature and legendary status, regardless of how wholly theatrical it felt.
When the clash of egos died down (or became less apparent), things instead centred on the music as the setlist hit all the expected high points and was a solid blend of well-known numbers. From the thundering outro of -The Chain’ to the note-perfect rendition of -Dreams’ through to the bluesy -Gold Dust Woman’, musically the band managed to pull it all together as though they’ve been doing this untroubled without a break since 1977. For a reunion tour there was no sense of the band phoning in their performance and, occasional cheese-factors aside, there was a very real sense that, despite Mick Fleetwood’s call of ‘Until next time’, this could be the last we see of Fleetwood Mac and that made it an occasion to savour. Tonight’s show lacked that certain something to make it a truly unforgettable night, (perhaps due to the obvious impersonal nature of a mammoth venue like the O2) but on the whole it was an impeccable performance hard to fault and one you couldn’t help but feel privileged to witness.