Fleetwood Mac has a long history in Boston. When the young English blues band arrived in America in 1969, they were hired as the house band at the Boston Tea Party, the city’s legendary electric ballroom. And when Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined the band in 1975, Boston radio stations were the first to put the new-look Fleetwood Mac into heavy rotation.
“Boston is part of our Fleetwood Mac family,” an obviously emotional Stevie declared from the stage of the Boston Garden (OK, TD BankNorth Garden), where the current FM lineup played to a packed house on Thursday night as the city recovered from the Marathon bombings three days earlier. “And you know, we feel that we’re part of the Boston family as well.” As the cheering grew in volume, she stepped to her microphone and shouted, “Boston Strong!”
Fleetwood Mac is now a quartet, Christine McVie having retired to the English countryside. The band is augmented by keyboards, a second guitarist, and Stevie’s longtime backing singers, Sharon Celani and Lori Nicks. Drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie still serve as a bedrock rhythm section behind Lindsey Buckingham’s lead guitar and vocals, with a willowy, golden-mane Stevie Nicks holding her own stage left.
The band took the stage in the dark to the sound of chirping crickets, a nice touch. They roared into “Second Hand News,” indicating that the back-story of Stevie and Lindsey’s broken love affair would be the evening’s main subtext. This was confirmed in the set’s second song, “The Chain,” a bitter lover’s complaint.
Before slipping into the soft-rock classic “Dreams,” by way of consoling her audience, Stevie said: “In times of trouble, my mother would say, ‘Sing to them.’ So tonight we’re going to sing two and a half hours of kick ass rock and roll for you.”
The concert paraded through a long career of hit singles (“Rhiannon,” “Landslide”), Buckingham’s quirky songs (“Not That Funny,” “Never Going Back,” “So Afraid”) and Stevie’s crowd-pleasing classics (“Sarah,” “Gypsy,” “Gold Dust Woman” backlit with a luminous golden shawl). “Stand Back” paid tribute to Nicks’s solo career, and got the biggest crowd response of the evening.
Fleetwood Mac also other introduced two new songs, always a risky bet in a jukebox greatest-hits concert. The first was hard rocking “Bad Angel,” shortly to be released on EP according to Buckingham. The other was an early demo, “Without You,” that dated from the early ’70s, when Stevie and Lindsey moved to Los Angeles in search of their big break. The “big” part of that break, Stevie told the crowd, was when 6’6” Mick Fleetwood stumbled into the studio where they were working and heard the song. “We were crazy in L.A., and crazy in love with each other,” she added.
Stevie Nicks put on her trademark black top hat for the finale, which as always was “Go Your Own Way.” When Fleetwood Mac crashed to a rumbling halt, Stevie Nicks again reminded us: “Boston strong!”
Stephen Davis wrote the best-selling “Fleetwood” (1990). His new biography of Stevie Nicks will be published next year.