Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Review: Fleetwood Mac, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh 4/26/13

Disclaimer: I am a huge Fleetwood Mac fan. I could ramble on and on and attempt to explain why I love them so much, but quite simply put: Fleetwood Mac is magic to me. I can't imagine a scenario in which I’d say that anything they do is anything less than amazing. 

Ready for the show!

Meet & Greet pass holders were allowed to enter the arena for the show before doors officially opened. Much to my delight, security was friendly and accommodating and informed us that we would be allowed to stand right at the stage once the lights went down. I eyed up a spot slightly off center and to the right as I've learned from previous experiences that this is the spot where Lindsey Buckingham likes to drift during his many guitar solos.  I've had the opportunity to pet him invade his personal space physically interact with him from that spot during his solo tours. My goal for that evening was more of that. 
Much more of that, please.
Soon enough, the crickets sounded and soon after the lights went down. The screams began, the loudest of which seemed to be coming from my vocal chords. Through the darkness, bodies emerged from backstage. I spotted Mick first as he climbed onto his drum kit. He thrust his hands over his head and shouted something unintelligible and (probably) barbaric, in true Mick Fleetwood fashion.
And then he appeared. As if from rock heaven: Lindsey Buckingham.

    I shouted something intelligent at him. Something like, "OMG LINDSEY WOO HOO" as he stepped to his mic and queued up the band (and my loins) with: "1…2…1…2…3…4…"  The stage lights came up and there they were, all of them, merely feet away: Fleetwood Mac, my Fleetwood Mac, and for the next 150 minutes my soul was truly content.
They launched into Second Hand News with Lindsey singing lead, his fingers flying like magic over the strings of his guitar. You see, Lindsey doesn't use a guitar pick but instead uses his fingers to simultaneously finger prick two and sometimes three melodies as well as a bass line. If I hadn't witnessed it with my own eyes on more than one occasion I would say it was impossible that this was only one man, with one guitar, making such beautiful noise. That he does it all while singing and hitting each lyric in perfect key is just…amazing.  
Plus, he's so dreamy.

The end of Second Hand News melded into the beginning of The Chain when Mick began to "thump thump thump" on his bass drum.  From here much of the night is a blur of Lindsey's mad man antics - the man literally hopped, skipped and jumped around the entire stage for most of the evening. He also does this really sexy jungle cat creep, from the back of the stage to his mic at the beginning of Tusk and I'm So Afraid. 
The only time he slowed down all night was during Stevie's songs.  In fact, during Sara and Sisters of the Moon he appeared almost uncomfortable standing all but still and simply strum his guitar, but like a gentleman, he stepped back and let Stevie shine.  During Stevie's solo song, Stand Back, he mouthed the words to the song and during the chorus pointed at the audience and demanded we "stand back!" and then smiled. Adorable.  
Also, there was eye sex. Lots and lots of eye sex. I just knew during those brief moments of eye contact that it was only him and me in that arena and nobody else mattered to him but me. He's that good. Or I'm that delusional. 50/50 split, I'd say. Maybe 60/40. 
Exhibit's 1, 2, 3 & 4 of said eye sex:

During the solo for Eyes of the World, Lindsey stood right in front of me and inched his leg forward toward my outstretched hand like the beautiful tease he is. Our appendages connected. I caressed his knee, calf and boot until he’d had enough of me and walked back to his mic and I'm not ashamed even a little bit. Sorry, mom.
Song highlights for me included...all of them.  But if I had to pick my absolute favorites they were, in no particular order, Second Hand News, Tusk, Not That Funny, World Turning, Go Your Own Way, Sad Angel, Without You, Big Love, Never Going Back Again, I'm So Afraid, Sisters of the Moon, Gold Dust Woman and Say Goodbye.
Below are some videos I took but please be aware that the sound sucks because I was right in front of a speaker and my phone speakers couldn't handle the intensity.  These videos do no justice to what they sounded like in the arena. 

The Chain: (John McVie is my hero)


Sisters of the Moon: (EYE SEX!!)

Big Love:

I'm So Afraid:

Go Your Own Way:
Sad Angel: 

 Never Going Back Again:

During Sara, Stevie drifted over to Lindsey's mic to sing the final verse of the song, with Lindsey playing guitar right behind her, and I finally caught an up close glimpse of the Gold Dust Woman.  She's beautiful.  I don't mean just 'she's beautiful for her age' beautiful. She's simply beautiful, and, for such a tiny woman, she has a huge presence on stage. For the few moments she was right in front of me I was in awe. I almost felt bad for sticking only to Lindsey's side the entire evening.  Almost.  Also, from this close, the energy and chemistry that flows between Stevie and Lindsey was extremely palpable.  

These two know exactly how to stir the crowd into frenzy over their 40+ years long relationship, the romantic part of which ended over 35 years ago. However, soul mates they are, if only musically, because no other two voices on the planet meld together like Lindsey and Stevie's.  Also, they met and fell in love with each other as teenagers in high school, long before they were famous.
The Mac is back and from the sounds of things they aren't going anywhere any time soon.  I've seen every tour from The Dance in 1997 on and I don't think they've ever  sounded better.  Christine McVie's presence, and her songs, are the only things that could have possibly made the night any better.  We miss you, Christine!
Never Break The Chain, guys. 

All my photos from Pittsburgh can be seen via my Facebook Page.


PS: Thanks to other cameras in the arena, my arm and hand and back of my head are now documented for posterity in the same photo with Lindsey.

Photo by Matt Freed / Post-Gazette. Black bracelet, dark nail polish - that's me. To the left is my new friend Michelle's arm, and that's Tim's to her left.
Screencap from Clubdoc's videos on YouTube, Go Your Own Way. That's me right in front of Lindsey with my hand stuck highest in the air about to strum his guitar. Yep, I'm THAT girl.
Group strum!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac) Meet & Greet Experience.

For those of you who don't already know I am an huge (HUGE) fan of the band Fleetwood Mac. It started for me in 1997 when they reunited for The Dance album/tour and my love for them has only grown over the years.  I could go on and on (and on and on) about why I love them so much and the history of the band but nobody has that kind of time.  Quite simply put they are magic to me. This past Friday night I had the opportunity to meet their drummer, and half of the band's namesake, Mick Fleetwood.  
Now, my very true love in the band is their guitarist/singer/song writer/producer/all around genius, Lindsey Buckingham. (If you just now asked yourself "Lindsey Buckingham? Who is she?" please stop reading and go away from me.) That said, the chance to meet Mick had me jumping out of my skin with excitement. He is a kick-ass drummer and rumour has it that Animal from The Muppets was created in Mick's likeness. Plus, he is the man who invited Lindsey Buckingham into the band in 1974 and for that I will be eternally grateful.
See how much I can just ramble about these people? On to the actual meet & greet...
The VIP host for the evening (I can't remember his name for the life of me) was very polite and very cool.  I was a nervous wreck with the whole will call situation, worried all day that they wouldn't have my name or something else would get screwed up, but as soon as I walked into the arena and gave my name to will call the VIP host was there and found my name on his list and handed me the VIP pass.  Yay!
Shortly after I got my pass Fleetwood Mac came out for their sound check and Second Hand News came rumbling through the walls of the lobby. Seriously, the floor and walls were shaking from John's bass, Mick's drums and Lindsey's guitar. Lindsey's voice sounded top notch even through the concrete and steel of the walls. The videos of on YouTube do so very little justice to how amazing they sound live. Seriously.
The moment FM started sound checking was when everyone in the VIP group started to become friends simply because we all began to fan-girl and fan-boy. Phones came out in an instant. I asked if everyone else was tweeting the moment too and there were chuckles and nods all around except for those who don't tweet but they said they were texting or on Facebook.
At exactly 5:30 the VIP host came back and went over a few ground rules, the two biggest of which were absolutely no cell phones or cameras out once we were inside the arena and no touching the equipment on stage. These offenses were punishable by being tossed out of the meet & greet. Fair enough. Soon after this he paused and then spoke into his wrist like the secret service, after which he announced that Mick was ready for us. Yay!!
He led us into the empty arena and we ooh'd and ahh'd at the sight of it. It's a very cool experience to be the only ones in an arena that is set up for a concert, especially when the band is Fleetwood Mac and you're a uber-fan.  The backdrop of the stage said "Fleetwood Mac" in the Rumours-era print.  He set us up in the first three rows of the floor seats and said Mick would be out in a moment.
Then he appeared. I looked up and saw him walking toward us and I whacked the guy next to me in the arm several times and said "there he is, there he IS!"  It's a good thing we'd all become friends by that time or that could have been awkward.
Mick was dressed in a long kick ass red and black (and maybe green, too??) checkered suit coat and red vest and black jeans. I knew he was tall but the sight of him in person was actually awe-inspiring. My mouth dropped open. I'm five foot nine and wore four inch heels and I still felt tiny next to him. He is also very much more youthful looking in person than he appears to be on the VIP pass, on which he looks like a cross between Gandalf and Dumbledore, which is very cool and very "Mick" but he is much more youthful and spry in person.
Mick invited us up on stage and as we gathered around him where he stood in front of Stevie's mic he took care to caution those of us close to the edge to not fall off. He talked to us for about 10 minutes at this point. He told us that the crew they have now is, for the most part, the same crew they've had for decades. He said it is essential that the crew members he able to read their every facial expression and their body language and be able to know straight away what is wrong and what needs to be fixed. He likened it to that friend you had in school who you just knew if you looked at them during class you would burst out laughing. He also said that the members in the band do truly love each other and how lovely it was after all these years and all the shit they've gone through together that he can say that and really mean it. 
He talked about some other things up there but I honestly can't remember much else. I was too excited for picture time, which did not disappoint. We lined up for pics and everybody was very cool and nobody was a jerk about it. We got two pictures each. If a group got their photo together with Mick and then each wanted separate photos with him that was no problem at all.  I chatted with my new friends about whether or not they thought we were allowed to hug him. I hoped I wouldn't throw up on him from nerves but mused it would be a great way to be unforgettable. We decided that as long as we asked and he said yes that hugging was acceptable.  When it was my turn I asked if I could hug him and he said yes, quite graciously, and leaned over and gave me the greatest hug, ever. It wasn't just a "oh yay, another fan hug" kind of hug. It was a two-armed cuddly hug that lasted (at least it seemed that way) for several seconds. And he kissed my cheek. Yay!  After this I got my two pics with him and thanked him and was on my way off the stage and back to the floor seats for the question/answer session. Oh, also - Mick smells amazing. Whatever aftershave or cologne he wears works-very nice. I think I also told him I loved his suit. I might have said "kick ass" but I can't remember now.  I could kiss the photographer for snapping a shot of the hug!

C'mere, big guy!
Eyes closed, but oh well, cause I MET MICK FLEETWOOD.

Once we were back in our seats, the VIP guy started gathering the memorabilia we wanted Mick to sign.  Items ranged from tshirts to posters to albums. I didn't want to worry about lugging anything extra around for the concert so I had him sign the VIP pass, as did a lot of other people. It came on a lanyard and I put it around my neck and didn't have to worry about where it was the rest of the night. 

Autographed VIP pass.

Mick signed while he answered questions but he wasn't distracted in the slightest and he answered each question very thoroughly.  In fact, he went above and beyond with his answers, often going off on tangents, which was perfectly acceptable to us all. In direct contrast to his outlandish and wild stage presence, he is a very elegant and extremely well-spoken man.
The first question was about Christine, as I suspected it would be. The question was if Christine was considering coming out of retirement, what with rumours that she will join them on stage in London, and Mick's answer was a resounding no.  Yes, she will join them on stage for a least a few songs during one of the shows in London, but she isn't at all interested in touring anymore. He DID say she might be thinking of creating again, though--writing again, maybe. He didn't say whether she would ever record anything again though, only that she might be feeling creative again.
The next question was about a concert or festival FM played in 1977 in Hawaii. I'd never heard about it before but I guess the rumour is out there that Mick recently found the footage of this and the guy wondered if Mick was considering releasing that on DVD. Mick looked up, mid-signature on a VIP pass, with an extreme blank expression on his face, and said he wasn't quite sure what the guy was talking about. The guy said something like: "You KNOW, the concert in Hawaii, in 1977!" and Mick smirked and said quite politely: "No, I don't know. 1977 is mostly a blur…" Haha.  Then he said he thought he knew what the man was talking about - Mick has recently found footage from, I think he said the Rumours tour, and one of these days he needed to convince his band mates that it was a good idea to release the footage on DVD. I certainly concur.
Another question was about the instrumental music that plays in the arena before the shows and that there is great interest in it out and about the Internet. Mick said he was almost certain it was Lindsey's music and I listened before our show started and it was definitely Lindsey.  I'm pretty sure it's all instrumentals from his solo projects.
The next question was if it was possible to buy Mick's wine and have it shipped to our homes.  This was the first time I'd heard about Mick having his own line of wine, which is very cool.  Unfortunately, the answer was no.  Mick said the many and varying laws about shipping alcohol over state lines is a pain in the ass and that's the main reason why it isn't available for purchase online.
I can't remember what question was asked when he said this, but at one point someone asked Mick to name his most memorable moment over all the years. He said there are so many that it's impossible to pick just one but he relayed the story about the first huge gig FM ever played with Lindsey and Stevie, I think it was the US Festival, Apparently, the band got paid an disgustingly outrageous amount of money to play the festival, and every 20 minutes or so while they played John would wander over to Mick's kit and whisper to him, which is something John had never done before, and it would be a number, like "20 thousand" and Mick couldn't figure out what he meant. After the show John told him: "You idiot, I was telling you how much money we were making for that time period." Haha. Mick says that John is extremely good with his money and said he often tells John that he, Mick, will someday end up as John's chauffeur because he is so terrible with money.  He said John most likely still has the first penny he ever earned.
One guy asked where Mick goes when he is playing, with all the goofy looks and expressions he makes on stage.  Mick got somewhat (and adorably) bashful while answering this one. His answer was that he really isn't aware of what his face is doing while he is playing and if he tries to be conscious of what the rest of his body does as he plays he "utterly fucks up" the playing. Ha.  He shared a story from shortly after Lindsey and Stevie joined the band, Lindsey pointed out a part of a song off one of the pre-L&S FM albums and asked Mick how he did that drum part and Mick told him he had no idea. He's that unaware while he's playing of what he's doing he couldn't simply recreate what he's played in the past. He said he could recreate it in his own way but it wouldn't be exactly the same. I thought that was very interesting.
I can't remember if this was in response to a question, but at one point he says that he still gets very nervous before every show and that in the past he'd deal with the nerves with "an enormous amount of alcohol" but he doesn't do that anymore. He said Stevie still gets nervous before every show too but that Lindsey is as cool as a cucumber: "Cool. As. A. Cucumber, that one."
Another question/statement was in regards to how exhausting it must be to play drums like he does.  Mick says there are many drummers who don't play as physically as he does and he thought it was an English-style way of playing. He says it is certainly essential to stay in shape to be able to do it. He also told us that he needs to be warm when he's playing or he is uncomfortable and because arenas are notoriously cold he has heaters surrounding his kit.  He pointed them out. I assumed were just a part of his kit, but they are in fact heaters. He says they are on full blast during the shows and he doesn't understand how some drummers can play bare chested. I would have thought the opposite would be true, that playing in a cool environment would be optimum but Mick says he prefers to be warm. He also said here that he though John Bonham from Led Zepplin was the best drummer of all time.
I know there were more questions but that's all I can remember right now. Over all Mick spent about 30-35 minutes with us and stayed well past when his assistant told him it was time to go and get ready for the show. It was an amazing experience!