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Feature: Fleetwood Mac on the road

By
GARY GRAFF

COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 8 (UPI) -- Mick Fleetwood declared "We're back!" and the crowd at Ohio State University's True Value Arena Wednesday night greeted that as good news after Fleetwood Mac opened its first concert tour since 1997.

The veteran rock act's 24-song, 2-hour, 25-minute performance was designed to both please the long-standing faithful and give them a generous taste of the group's new album, "Say You Will."

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Abetted by seven additional musicians, the quartet -- drummer Fleetwood, singer Stevie Nicks, singer-guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and bassist John McVie -- were in solid, mid-tour form, it's energy wavering only slightly toward the end of the set.

And when it did, the not-quite capacity crowd helped to prod the band forward, singing along with familiar favorites and responding enthusiastically to the eight songs from the month-old "Say You Will."

Fleetwood Mac started off with hits, including its traditional show-opener "The Chain" and the Nicks-sung "Dreams." But its intent to push "Say You Will" was revealed early as well, via the single "Peacekeeper" and a strong rendition of the album's title track.

Prior to the tour, Buckingham explained that "It's a tricky equation, but...you don't make an album that sounds as fresh as ('Say You Will') and just go out and do a rehash set. I think you can strike a balance between that (new material) and the things that people are familiar with."

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Buckingham, in fact, provided an early show highlight with his stinging guitar solos on the new song "Come," and at one point Fleetwood Mac even played three consecutive songs from "Say You Will" – "Say Goodbye," "What's the World Coming To" and "Destiny Rules."

But the group rewarded its fans' indulgence with plenty of hits, including "Rhiannon," "Gypsy," "Landslide," "Gold Dust Woman," "Tusk," Nicks' solo hit "Stand Back" and "Go Your Own Way." Buckingham also won some favor when he resumed his solo rendition of "Big Love" after the cord slipped out of his guitar.

Fleetwood Mac touched only lightly on material associated with singer-keyboardist Christine McVie, who left the group after the 1997 tour. The two songs it chose – "World Turning" and "Don't Stop" -- also prominently feature Buckingham, while Nicks covered McVie's parts on Wednesday.

"We wanted to show her the respect," Buckingham said of his former band mate, "but we don't feel like we have to go out and do all of her songs.

"It leaves a lot of open spots, which you can think of as an opportunity."

And on Fleetwood Mac's opening night, it proved to be an opportunity well taken.

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