From the MoSS? Pit: Fleetwood Mac

This will hopefully be the last concert photo I have to take with my shitty iPhone 4S camera, which made my seats to this show (which were awesome) look super sucky. Hurry up and get here, iPhone 6!

This will hopefully be the last concert photo I have to take with my shitty iPhone 4S camera, which made my seats to this show (which were awesome) look super sucky. Hurry up and get here, iPhone 6!


A couple of months ago, I saw Alice Cooper in concert (not the enshrined classic-lineup Alice Cooper Band, mind you, but it still counts in my book), making him, at the time, the latest member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame I’ve seen live. By my best guess and after much obsessing, I believe this is the complete list: The Rolling Stones, Van Halen (Van Hagar, technically), Metallica, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, B.B. King, Neil Young, Buddy Guy, the Pretenders, Black Sabbath, U2, R.E.M., Beastie Boys, Guns N’ Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Public Enemy, Kiss and Nirvana.

In addition, I also caught the last song of Run-DMC at Hubbard Park in Iowa City in 1996 or ’97 (I’m calling that a reach), and even though it wasn’t Parliament-Funkadelic, I DID see George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars. At Lollapalooza 2009, I caught a set by Lou Reed (in with the Velvet Underground, but not solo), and a few weeks back, even though I was in horrible position 150 yards from the stage, I caught Patti Smith at Riot Fest (counts in my book, since I was able to rock out to “Rock and Roll Nigger” just fine from where I was standing, thank you very much).

But last weekend, I knocked one of the biggest white whales off that Hall of Fame list when I saw Fleetwood Mac at the United Center in Chicago. For a guy who had Rumours in his ears as a small child, on to absolutely falling head over heels in love with Stevie Nicks and her solo records at the dawn of MTV, and finally getting smitten all over again when the reunion tour and album dropped in 1997, this was a long time coming.

And here are the reasons why this show scratched an enduring itch:

The world’s most underappreciated rhythm section

When you have bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood, you have songs that have so much bottom, it almost makes you forget that they’re selling you this juggernaut of almost-sunny Southern California-style pop that took the universe by storm in the late 1970s and into the ’80s. There are doom metal bands that don’t get that much sturdy backbone from the rhythm section. It’s the most enduring part of the show, hands down.

Lindsey Buckingham, motherfucking guitar god

I don’t know how he does it. The way he plays. He doesn’t use a pick. He just does this thing, palm down, where he puts his thumb on the top string and flicks the other strings outward with his fingers. It kind of reminds me of the way my pal Jeremy (the one and only Citrus Head) used to pathetically try to play Iron Maiden’s “Wasted Years” on the guitar when we were 13. Except when Lindsey Buckingham does it, it’s pure shred. Listen to the solos on “The Chain” or “You Make Loving Fun” sometime, and then after that, WATCH him play those same solos. It’s insane. And then when he pulls out his acoustic guitar for his signature piece “Big Love,” it’s just a master class of guitar virtuosity. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. Well, at least not until …

Top 5, eternally

Top 5, eternally



My dark princess

You know those lists married people started making of “five people you can sleep with and NOT get divorced” (the Friends episode, you know you saw it)? Well, I always used to joke that the 1978 version of Stevie Nicks was at the top of my list. Hell, the 1981 version, at the dawn of MTV, when she made “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and “Leather and Lace” with Don Henley – those are perfect goddamn rock and roll songs (yes, let’s pause and reminsce for a second):

Anyway, back to the present. Oh my. On Friday night, she sang “Dreams.” She sang “Rhiannon.” We got “Gypsy.” Who can forget “Landslide”? Jesus, her voice is still unique and strong. But the night was complete when she emerged from the shadows – in her gold shawl and fingerless lace gloves, doing her witchy pirouette as wind chimes rang out – for “Gold Dust Woman.” Lord have mercy, she was sex on a stick.

So yeah, I don’t need 1978 Stevie anymore. I’m just fine with 2014 Stevie, thanks.

And as incredible as she was, she was only the second best part of the night.

Christine McVie, thank you for coming back

I’ve been trying to see Fleetwood Mac live ever since that 1997 reunion. For whatever reason, it never seemed to work out. I see now that was a blessing in disguise.

You see, Christine McVie retired from the band after that outing and stayed sidelined for 16 years. I love Stevie, but I can’t imagine hearing “Don’t Stop” or any other Mac anthem on which Christine is featured prominently with anyone’s voice BUT Christine’s. Thankfully, I didn’t have to find out.

We got everything we wanted from her this weekend (well, except “Hold Me.” My favorite Mac song. A Christine staple, in my book. Unfortunately, they didn’t play it. So I’m just gonna tuck this here so my experience with the band can be all-inclusive):

But yeah … “You Make Loving Fun” was majestic. “Say You Love Me” and “Everywhere” were enchanting. Even “Little Lies,” which has never been one of my favorites, sounded bad-ass and downright heavy live.

But when she closed the show with “Songbird,” her signature piece, it made me thankful I had to wait 16 years to experience this band. I can’t say this enough: If you want to see this band, do it. Now. Don’t wait. You may have seen them before, but maybe it was without Christine. Right now? She’s back. You might not get another chance.

Waited a lifetime to see this band. It was worth the wait.

Fleetwood Mac was an enormous part of a memorable night. But they weren’t the only part …

Talk about a lifetime meeting

Once upon a time, I had this friend named Molly. We met when I was still wet behind the ears, still trying to figure out who I was gonna be as a freshman away from home for the first time at the University of Iowa.

Molly when I first met her … and me when I first met her.


I met her when I was taking freshman rhetoric (which is strange, because she wasn’t a freshman), one of those classes that are interactive and encourage people to share ideas (I always justified her being in this class as her being awesome enough to say, “Fuck it. I’m just gonna take my rhetoric requirement when I’m a sophomore because I can do whatever the fuck I want.”). Anyway, instead of just lumping myself in with the other kids I assumed were like me, this blonde bombshell locked eyes with me and motioned for me to come on over. What the actual fuck? Girls like this who didn’t already know me from before do NOT seek ME out. But for reasons I still don’t understand, this girl wanted to be friends with me, not the other way around.

As I got to know her, she just killed me. She was funny. She was inclusive and engaging. Witty and articulate. Intelligent. And oh yeah, hot. Always with the black leather jacket. I seem to remember she liked to drink whiskey and take shots of Jager. One day, some dude picked her up in front of the English-Philosophy Building on his motorcycle, like she was the bad girl in Grease or something, and I just remember saying, “Jesus Christ, she’s so fucking bad-ass.” I shook my head and chuckled and just kept walking to class, realizing I had some work to do in life if I ever wanted THAT.

We were never the kind of friends who called each other or made plans together. But for the next two years, we didn’t just keep walking if we saw each other on the street. Every single time, we stopped and talked. If we saw each other out and about, we ended up getting drinks and ignoring everyone else we went to the bar with. Because of her and who she is and how she acts and because she invited me over upon seeing me in that class after 25 seconds, I’ve never really been afraid to approach anyone if I felt like I wanted to know them, even if they were “out of my league.” That was Molly.

In the fall of 1994, I remember seeing her on the street between Van Allen Hall and the Que Bar. We talked. I remember I was holding a poster I had just bought for my first apartment (I think it was of Janis Joplin at Woodstock). After a few minutes, we said, “see ya later.”

Then … whoosh, she was gone. I never saw her again in the entire time I was at Iowa. I figured she must have graduated. Or transferred. Whatever …

And then 14 years came and went. I mean, there wasn’t always Google. Or Friendster or MySpace. Once she was gone, I had no idea how to find her. She was gone.

I hate giving it too much credit, but what’s true is true – Facebook changed it. Mark Zuckerberg will always have my eternal gratitude for that. I found her there six years ago, in an exchange that will always makes me smile when I think about it. Ever since then, we share birthday greetings. We talk about the Hawks. I see photos of her doing BTN fun runs in Iowa gear, complete with knee-high gold Hawkeye socks. She sees me posting links to my blogs at Music or Space Shuttle? and blathering on about whatever movies, TV shows or records I’m currently loving or hating.

But we still never talked, let alone actually saw each other.

What does this have to do with Fleetwood Mac?

Friday night, for the first time in 20 years, Molly and I hung out again. In person. The Mac brought us together. We had drinks. We caught up. I got to hang with her and her girlfriends, one of which went to Riot Fest like me … however, she did NOT skip Slayer for Jane’s Addiction like I regretfully did (which, by the way, when she said it, was the sexiest thing I’ve ever heard. Chicks who dig metal … swoon).

So it was a glorious night. I just hope I don’t have to wait 20 years to do it again.

Let us know what you think. Sound off in the comments here at Music or Space Shuttle? Have your say on our Facebook page. Yell at us on Twitter.

From the MoSS? Pit: Fleetwood Mac

fleetwood mainIf you’ve read some of my posts over the last year or so you may remember that I am a big Fleetwood Mac fan. Their Rumours album was the #10 selection in my part of the “MoSS? Undisputed Top Albums Ever” lists Chris and I made last year. My wife is a huge fan too so when I saw they were coming to Des Moines this summer there was no way we were going to miss it. In need of additional support crew, we looked no further than our Pygmalion Fest/Best Coast concert pals. I’m pleased to report that thanks to their help… No wrong turns this year baby! Although, I wouldn’t have minded making a small 90 minute detour to the Missouri border for some fireworks (this trip being pre-4th of July and all.) Sadly, Iowa does not sell the good stuff.

Anyway, upon arrival in the big city of Des Moines we started our evening off at a martini bar called The Standard. They have excellent food (Tapas baby!), very good/not too pricey drinks and horseshit service. Concert night with one waitress? Come on The Standard! You can do better. They did have a cool little guy/girl band performing while we ate. They did excellent covers of some very random groups. Weezer, Timberlake, Marvin Gaye are just a few examples. I wish I could remember their band moniker so I could give them a plug but sadly, I don’t. Too many boozie drinks that night I suppose. So would I go back to The Standard for another pre-concert dinner?… Probably.

Since there was no opening act, all we had to worry about was getting our first concert beer and finding our seats. Price tag on a can of beer at the Wells Fargo Arena was a shocking $8. 8 bucks? For Coors (Pronounced Kerrs in my house) Light? I was a bit taken aback until the beer wench handed over two ice cold  20 oz. cans. 20 ounces? Shit lady, that’s all you had to say!  I could barely carry them to our seats which were not exactly close. That’s the one bummer about this trip. I can add up the total ticket cost of my last five shows and they are still just under the ticket price for Fleetwood Mac and we were still midway to nosebleed land. Still, there was no way we were missing this one.

fleetwood liveWhen we finally sat down I noticed that the crowd was pretty large. If they didn’t sell out the venue I would be surprised. I was also surprised at the age range of the audience. Since the band members are in their mid-60s, I assumed our thirtysomething foursome would be at the young end of the spectrum. That was not necessarily the case. While there was no shortage of baby boomers, there was probably almost as many 30-40 year olds on hand as well. I even saw a few teenagers wandering around getting a rock and roll history lesson from parents.

We didn’t have to wait more than a few minutes for the show to begin.  Fleetwood Mac came on stage a mere 15 minutes after the designated start time. I can deal with 15 minutes. That’s basically on time in rock and roll land. Maybe “The Mac” have given up the rock diva thing after all these years. Or maybe they just wanted to get the show done before the 11PM Matlock episode started. I’m kidding of course. Over the period of the two and a half hour show, not one of the members of the band showed any signs of slowing down. In fact, they seemed to have endless energy.

fleetwood live 2

Guitarist/Vocalist Lindsey Buckingham was onstage for almost every song and still plays flawlessly and ferociously. One of my favorite Lindsey songs is “Never Going Back Again” which showcases his unique guitar work. The live version that night was slowed down a bit from the original but it still shows he has the skills.

[Side note on the video: Although I did upgrade my mobile to the highly superior iPhone, this could not help my videos from the night. Shitty seats = Shitty video. I was able to find a few YouTube clips filmed by some cat named Jason Smith. Luckily, he recorded some of my favorite performances of the night. Thanks Jason!]

fleetwood live 3Stevie sounded great too. Her voice may not be able to hit the higher notes perfectly anymore but she can still belt out the hits. One of my favorite Stevie songs is “Sara” and I was singing it all afternoon in anticipation of hearing it live as my annoyed support crew can attest. After a couple of those 20 oz. beers I was talking about earlier, I had to take a restroom break. As I was doing my business, I heard the opening lyrics of “Sara.” Talk about bad timing! I was able get  to my seat to in time to catch the last half of the song though. Check out the video below.

Another Stevie highlight from that night was the performance of her solo tune, “Stand Back.” She pulls out all of the trademark Stevie stuff. Air keyboards. Flowing witch/gypsy dress. Waving scarves. And my favorite, the Stevie Spin. That’s right. The Spin. What other rock star can whip the crowd into a frenzy solely by spinning in a circle like a little girl? No other rock star. That’s who. I got caught up in it too. At the sight of the first Stevie Spin of the night, my wife and I turned to each other and simultaneously shrieked “SHE’S SPINNING!!!” Check out the video below.

Every current member from the Rumours lineup (except for John McVie who has never been particularly talkative) spoke to the crowd during breaks in the action.  They all seemed to have the same theme…Gratitude. They appeared truly touched and humbled by the years of love and applause. Even though the ticket price may be a bit high, I suggest you go out and see Fleetwood Mac. Before we know it there won’t be too many bands like them left.


Second Hand News
The Chain
Sad Angel
Not That Funny
Sisters of the Moon
Big Love
Never Going Back Again
Without You
Eyes of the World

Gold Dust Woman
I’m So Afraid
Stand Back
Go Your Own Way

World Turning
Don’t Stop

2nd Encore:
Silver Springs
Say Goodbye