Fleetwood Mac's Last Stand - For Now - Rolling Stone
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Fleetwood Mac’s Last Stand – For Now

A gutsy display at the Hollywood Bowl

Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, rolling stone archive, old, photoFleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, rolling stone archive, old, photo

Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac performs on stage at Ahoy on June 13th, 1980 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Rob Verhorst/Redferns/Getty

Fleetwood Mac
The Hollywood Bowl
Hollywood, California
September 1st, 1980

This is our Last show.” Pause. “For a long time.”

With that line – uttered several times over the course of the night – Lindsey Buckingham laid to rest, sort of, the rumors that Fleetwood Mac‘s two Hollywood Bowl shows would be the group’s swan song. Apparently, the hugs, kisses and locker-room celebration that ended this performance signified nothing more than communal relief over finishing a nine-month tour.

It was Buckingham’s show at the beginning of the tour, and, if anything, he was more commanding at the end. Dressed in the ten-gallon hat, boots and white V-neck T-shirt of a Beverly Hills cowboy, he was simply spectacular onstage. He dominated the band as completely as any human being could ever dominate drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie – one of the most cohesive and potent rhythm sections in rock.

Buckingham continually battered at the constraints of arena-level rock, both in the quirky, brave songs from Tusk and in his explosive solos. A classic rock & roll spastic, he released enormous amounts of energy with a series of violent, herky-jerky tics. And when he flailed across the stage in “It’s Not That Funny” or “What Makes You Think You’re the One,” it was not a New Wave affectation (as it occasionally seemed at the beginning of the tour); it was simply the only way he knew to exorcise a few bothersome demons.

But this wasn’t a one-man show. Christine McVie was the calm in the eye of Buckingham’s hurricane; her songs were cogent and graceful, and she was a model of restraint on keyboards. And Stevie Nicks was still essentially decorative – but in a band that is a near-miraculous blend of musical, temperamental and visual styles, that decoration was undeniably important.

And during “Landslide,” Nicks was riveting. Stripped of all her dying-swan poses and fairy-queen pretensions, and backed only by Buckingham’s acoustic guitar and McVie’s quiet keyboards, she sang of growing older in a husky, cracked, uncertain voice that was far more honest and moving than anything else she did.

It was a gutsy display, part of a far gutsier evening than we logically expect from megastars. And it was simply one of many highlights: the awesome momentum of “The Chain” and “Tusk”; the powder-keg detonation of “Go Your Own Way”; the gorgeous “Over and Over”; the oppressive brilliance of a slow “I’m So Afraid.”

To be sure, much time was wasted on extended solos: these guys still pay homage to some old hard-rock conventions. And curiously, there’s little sexual electricity in the band; it may have a history of intragroup liaisons, but onstage it is a mosaic of individuals who coexist more often than they interact. At the Bowl, it was a daring and almost wholly satisfying coexistence. Let’s hope they can keep it up next time they appear together – whenever that may be.

This is a story from the October 30th, 1980 issue of Rolling Stone.


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