“This is probably the most nervous we’ve been performing,” Julia Stone half stammers as she and her brother Angus stare out onto a soccer stadium’s pitch that is consistently being filled with eager music fans during their support set. The Sydney siblings are of course, opening for Fleetwood Mac tonight and the gravity of the situation is not lost on them or their band members at all. Coopers Stadium is decked out with seats on the pitch that as mentioned above, fill up quickly, while the east and western grandstands also become populated with a demographic of younger fans as well as the older as we edge towards the 8pm headline set time.
Angus and Julia Stone are a duo who I can’t remember having seen perform before, at least, not in this format. I’d seen Angus a bunch of times doing his solo stuff, but I don’t remember seeing the sibling dynamic in full flight before this show. They were a perfect fit for this type of show – the familiarity of “Big Jet Plane” and a heavily reworked cover of “You’re The One That I Want” from Grease would draw in those with any passing interest in their music, while the newer material performed showcased how much A&J have developed musically since those early stripped back days. There’s a bit of a cheeky jam element to their set and as they became more comfortable on the stage as the sun began to set, the band really began to loosen up and vibe with the music they were performing.
There was no extended intro music or thick layers of smoke to herald Fleetwood Mac’s arrival. Promptly at 8pm, the band walked out onto the stage to excited chatter and cheers. As the first notes of “The Chain” rang out over the crowd, the fans instantly fell under Fleetwood Mac’s spell. “Dreams” and “Rhiannon” make early set appearances, and while Lindsey Buckingham takes the time to explain the origins of “Bleed to Love Her”, you really begin to grasp (or re-grasp) the extent of this band’s history, both professional and personal. As a live unit, they still perform extremely well together; I’ve not seen Fleetwood Mac perform with any other line up, but I can how the dynamic would have been lacking somewhat without Christine McVie‘s undeniable presence. As Mick Fleetwood would put it near the end of the show, “Indeed, our songbird has returned”.
The chemistry between Buckingham and Stevie Nicks is of course undeniable, watching them interact – whether it be purely through Buckingham’s glances at Nicks as she sang or the latter joining him at his microphone – was almost an individual element of the Fleetwood Mac live ‘experience’ itself. A highlight would come in “Landslide”; with just Nicks and Buckingham on stage, there’s an intimacy between the crowd and the artists (regardless of the fact there’s thousands of fans crammed in an outdoor stadium setting) that is wonderful to be a part of.
Christine’s return brought with it its own special applause; each time she would take lead vocal (“Everywhere”, “Songbird”), the crowd was up in arms and cheering. Nicks points out early on that the Adelaide show is Fleetwood Mac’s 108th on this current tour, though you wouldn’t sense any kind of road weariness – the band is quite obviously still loving what they do. Watching Buckingham play guitar was a highlight for me; you can hear the intricacies on record, but being able to be rather close in seeing him work his way through “Tusk”, “Go Your Own Way” and “Never Going Back Again”, say, was just amazing. In a similar turn, Fleetwood’s drum solo halfway through “World Turning” was brilliant.
There was always going to be a great deal of nostalgia that accompanies a show like this one, but for those of us who may be coming to Fleetwood Mac for the first time in a live capacity, it was definitely an eye opener to how good this band has remained as a creative group of live performers. Sure, the Velvet Underground days may be long behind them but regardless, the music they made is classic and as they’ve proved, over 100 shows into their world tour, it’s timeless.
The Chain | You Make Loving Fun | Dreams | Second Hand News | Rhiannon | Everywhere | Bleed to Love Her | Tusk | Sara | Say You Love Me | Landslide | Never Going Back Again | Think About Me | Gypsy | Little Lies | Gold Dust Woman | I’m So Afraid | Go Your Own Way | World Turning | Don’t Stop | Silver Springs | Songbird