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Concert Reviews:
Buckingham-McVie combo's Mac attack and more, at the Fox
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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DETROIT -- By dint of personnel and attendance -- about half of the Fox Theatre's 5,000 seats on Sunday night, June 2 -- it was not a Fleetwood Mac concert.

But it was certainly a more than acceptable alternative.

Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie have always had a perceptibly special creative relationship within Fleetwood Mac, and they've furthered it this year with a richly crafted self-titled duo album. It's their first new music together since McVie -- still pure-voiced and fit at 74 -- left the band in 1998 for a 15-year hiatus, and Buckingham noted at the Fox that "the biggest question we had...was would there be any chemistry left?"

The album and Sunday's hour-and-50-minute show proved there is -- and then some. Following a muscular opening set by the Wallflowers and backed by a four-piece band that included longtime Buckingham colleague and Fleetwood Mac touring adjunct Neale Heywood and fellow Mac help Brett Tuggle on keyboards, Buckingham and Nicks struck a balance between the new material (eight of the album's 10 tracks) and select gems from the Mac catalog. They were clearly trying to keep a bit of distance from the band, even doing without Stevie Nicks' vocal accents on the chorus of "Little Lies," but while there was clearly an appetite for more Mac it was not without ample appreciation for the fresh material.

Buckingham and Nicks began the night as a duo with the former's solo hit "Trouble" and the McVie-sung Mac rarity "Wish You Were Here." An achingly slow rendering of "Never Going Back Again" never ignited, but the Buckingham-McVie songs, including "Shut Us Down," "Sleeping Around The Corner," "In My World," "Red Sun" and the "World Turning"-knockoff "Too Far Gone," sounded more robust than their recorded counterparts, with a bit more edge and grit than the album.

The Mac attacks were the most heartily welcomed parts of the show, of course, with "Hold Me," "You Make Loving Fun" and a forceful version of "Tusk" sounding faithful but not copycat. Buckingham, as usual, deployed an extended guitar solo during "I'm So Afraid" and "Go Your Own Way" remained a bulletproof roof-raiser. A couple of new album tracks, "Lay Down For Free" and the gentle "Game Of Pretend," which was nearly derailed by technical issues with McVie's keyboards, were curious choices to close the show, but they also served notice that the duo is a potent force that can exist capably outside of its more celebrated "day job."

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