Fleetwood Mac is back.

But it’s a different Fleetwood Mac that is in the midst of a 50 city North American tour, following the firing of Lindsey Buckingham and the additions of longtime Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and Crowded House singer Neil Finn.

It’s certainly not the first time that Fleetwood Mac has had a lineup change, but it’s one of the most significant.

Mick Fleetwood, now 71, and bassist John McVie, 72, are the only members who have been in every incarnation of the long-running band that began as a British blues outfit more than 50 years ago.

“Me and John, being in the band since 1967, often look back at our history,” Fleetwood said. “It’s a fascinating one. This is a huge change in terms of the band. We’re aware of the change we’re going through.”

In fact, it’s not the first time Fleetwood Mac has attempted to move forward without Buckingham. The guitarist-singer left the group after the 1987 album “Tango in the Night,” (followed by singer Stevie Nicks in 1991) and Fleetwood, John McVie and keyboardist/singer Christine McVie carried on through 1995 with guitarists Billy Burnette, Rick Vito, and later on, Dave Mason, and then after Nicks’ departure, with Bekka Bramlett joining on vocals.

Eventually, fences were mended and Buckingham and Nicks rejoined Fleetwood, John McVie and Christine McVie – the lineup that rose to superstardom behind the 1975 self-titled album, 1977’s blockbuster “Rumours” and the 1979 double album, “Tusk.”

Time will tell if fans embrace the new lineup. But one thing the latest change is allowing is for the band to revisit its entire history in concert rather than concentrating only on the ‘70s and ‘80s hit-making era that began after the California folk-rock duo Buckingham and Nicks joined the group in 1974.

This latest opportunity led to the band heading into a rehearsal studio with a list of about 60 songs that might make the show, Fleetwood said in late September, a few days before wrapping up rehearsals for the tour.

“There’s not going to be 60 songs in a show,” he said. “It wasn’t quite 60. What we’ve found is a lovely vibrant show, presenting the band as it is now. What we’re also enjoying is going back and giving some sense from whence we have come.

“This band didn’t start in the ‘70s or the ‘80s. It started in the ‘60s. We’re having fun delving into material we haven’t done in a long time… We’ve been having fun doing we have haven’t done for 40 odd years, 50 years.”

The “Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac” era songs will feature Campbell, whose guitar style fits the blues that Green, who had played in John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, brought to the group he formed in 1967 and named after Fleetwood and McVie.

Christine McVie joined the group in 1970 and, after Green departed, Bob Welch played guitar for a couple years before Buckingham and Nicks joined the band.

Those years have been represented on the early dates of the Fleetwood Mac tour with songs dating back to 1968 composed by Green, Welch and guitarist Danny Kirwan.

Finn takes on the primary male vocal turn, replacing Buckingham and, Fleetwood said, the set will also include some non-Mac material — “We’re able to do songs, I’m not going to say which songs, that acknowledge Tom Petty and Mike’s work with him, which is how it should be,” he said. “The same with Neil Finn.”

No spoilers here. Suffice it say that the Petty song and Finn’s Crowded House nod have been tour highlights.

So, Mick, are Campbell and Finn honoring the originals, with which fans are familiar or are they bringing something of their own to the Fleetwood Mac sound?

“It’s a bit of both,” Fleetwood said. “In terms of musicians such as Neil Finn and Mike Campbell, they are people who understand what it is to have empathy for fellow players. You cross that bridge stylistically…. These people don’t come from karaoke sensibility. They have huge amounts of their own styles. The mix has been successful.”
The new mix, Fleetwood said, works in large part because the rhythm section — the heart of the group — remains intact after the Buckingham firing turmoil.

“Christine McVie is the keyboard player, but she’ll say she’s part of the rhythm section and she is,” Fleetwood said. “That was on the lucky things of having Christine come back to us a few years ago.”

In mid-October, shortly after the four began, Buckingham sued Fleetwood Mac for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of oral contract and interference with prospective economic advantage and is seeking compensatory damage for loss of income, that, according to the suit, would be $12 to $14 million for each band member in 60 shows over two years.

Buckingham, in a recent interview with “Rolling Stone” magazine, claims he was fired because Nicks (with whom Buckingham was romantically involved when they were a musical duo and during their first couple of years in Fleetwood Mac) insisted she could no longer share the stage with Buckingham and would leave the group if Buckingham was retained.

Fleetwood declined to talk much about the firing of Buckingham during the interview, saying only “we wish him well,” The band initially disputed the allegations of the lawsuit, but a settlement between the two sides was announced in early December, although specifics of the agreement were not disclosed.

With the legal business settled, Fleetwood and the rest of the new Fleetwood Mac are resuming the tour. Fleetwood said the group will bring a combination of old and new that he believes will connect with its multi-generational legion of fans. But he was also quick to say that Fleetwood Mac is doing all the big hits and fan favorites that it can squeeze into the set.

“We’re not going to walk on stage and not play ‘Dreams,” Fleetwood said. “We know that, quite rightfully so.”

And he said that 50 years after it began, Fleetwood Mac will be giving its all every night.

“We’ll be there as real band, playing our hearts out for you,” Fleetwood said as he readied himself to return to rehearsals. “It’s been a joy, to tell you the truth. We’ll be ready to go.

“People will go home with a sense of going forward, a sense of reinvention, but also a feeling of being at home with a band,” Fleetwood said. “We’re lucky we have such a legacy of followers…. I hope people do get the sense of something going forward and changing. But they’re not going to be there to the point of ‘what happened?’

Here is our chose for the best of Fleetwood Mac. Shop around for your favorites.

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.