Mick Fleetwood’s update from the road
“The tour is going brilliantly,” says Mick Fleetwood, calling from Calgary, Canada. “It couldn’t be going any better.”
In the midst of touring across North America with Fleetwood Mac, the legendary rock band he co-founded in 1967, the revered drummer has been amazed at the outpouring of love for the band.
“It’s quite extraordinary, the high level of response,” he reports. “It’s something we haven’t really experienced in 25 years. We’re always blessed that when we do these tours they go well and most of the shows do extremely well, but we have a situation now, where the whole tour six months away is almost entirely sold out. It’s hugely gratifying. There’s just a great energy where people are determined to be there, so the whole vibe of these concerts is up notches from recent past memory of us going out. It’s truly phenomenal. The band is really playing great. We’re in full-steam-ahead mode.”
Many reviewers have agreed with Maui’s resident British rock star.
“A love-in, that was last night’s Fleetwood Mac concert,” raved a Vancouver Sun review. “From the moment Mick Fleetwood bounded onstage, dropped his giant, lanky self behind his kit and started the drum roll leading into ‘Second Hand News,’ it was on your feet and sing along to every song.”
A Seattle Times review noted: “It began as a singalong, but soon became a love-a-thon. Younger concertgoers who weren’t yet born when the group’s classic, multi-platinum 1977 album “Rumours” was released, were among the most enthusiastic.” And Oklahoma City’s LOOK at OKC entertainment magazine praised: “There is a great argument to be made that Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood are better live performers now than when they were the biggest band in the world.”
Along with performing their essential hits on tour, Fleetwood Mac has added two new songs to their set list, the rousing, “Sad Angel,” and the haunting ballad, “It Takes Time.”
To little fanfare, the band released a four song EP in late April (initially only on iTunes), its first new music in 10 years.
What Nicks has referred to on stage as their “little baby record,” “Extended Play” features a delicious sampling of the classic Fleetwood Mac sound. As the Vancouver Sun concert review noted, ” ‘Sad Angel’ is certainly the group’s best song in decades.”
This instantly memorable composition by Buckingham addresses his co-lead singer’s recent reticence to record and tour with the band. The chorus chimes, “Hello, sad angel, have you come to fight the war.” And the EP’s last track, “Miss Fantasy,” also references his connection with Nicks.
As for the other songs, the beautiful ballad, “It Takes Time,” features Buckingham solo on vocals and piano, while the fourth song, “Without You,” is a new recording of an unreleased song by Buckingham and Nicks, composed before they joined Fleetwood Mac.
“About eight months ago, I went off to L.A. with John (McVie) and out of that came all this material,” Fleetwood explains. “It all fell into place, and then Stevie got involved singing on it. We hope maybe during this tour we’ll do something with the rest of the stuff.
“Having the EP out is really creative progress. It may become part of an album. We cut nine songs and they’re all real winners. I love all of them. And I really love the piano song (‘It Takes Time’). It’s so cool and so different for Lindsey to be sitting there playing the piano. It’s a very thought-provoking song in terms of the energy behind it. And the song Stevie found (‘Without You’), and they re-recorded, is again pregnant with thought-provoking energy in terms of who they are and where they came from, and they’re still doing it together.”
In an interview with Billboard magazine, Buckingham confirmed the likely release of more new Mac music. “It’s safe to say there is more than these four songs that you’re going to hear from Fleetwood Mac,” he reported. “It’s just a question of how and when.”
Some reviewers have suggested the new music is their best since 1987’s “Tango in the Night.” WhatCulture hailed it as sounding, “as fresh and exciting as anything they have recorded for a very long time.”
“When Lindsey approached me and John, Lindsey very specifically did not want it to be a super organized Lindsey thing,” Fleetwood continues.
“A lot of the song ideas were on phone recorders and he purposely didn’t want to over-arrange and over-preconceive how they were going to come out. Lindsey’s very organized in terms of how he visualizes some of the stuff he wants to do. This time on purpose he said, ‘I’m not going to do that. I want this to feel like we just got together and you haven’t listened to endless demos with me beating parts into the ground and over organizing.’ What you’re hearing is the fact that we didn’t do that. It’s just drawing down on the musicians of Fleetwood Mac saying, ‘What have you got Lindsey?’ and me and John just playing.
“It’s not super slick and it’s not perfect, and I like that. It sounds really fresh, not like a bunch of fuddy-duddies that have got too good at what they’re doing. It sounds like a bunch of kids who got together and said, I hope this works out well.”
Musing on the continued popularity of the band, Fleetwood notes that time away to pursue its individual projects has helped strengthen its core.
“Considering we’re a funny old franchise and the disorganized, funny trip we’ve been on – not in the old days, because we just kept working – everything eventually comes together. The strange thing is it seems so timely now with all the worry of when we’re going to do it and how we’re going to do it, it’s clear it’s supposed to be happening now.
“It’s a quiet education of Fleetwood Mac in this day and age. You have to realize that you’ve been doing this for a long time at a very high level,” Fleetwood continues.
“And, if you look at Fleetwood Mac as the company store, the store should step back appropriately a little bit and realize that the people in the company, the individuals in the band, need to have their various lives available, without necessarily always coming to the call of the company store.
“This is a really good version of that. We eventually arrived at all being on the same page at the same time. I’ve learned my lesson to not be overly zealous and push Fleetwood Mac all the time.”
After North America, the band will head to Europe and beyond. “The circus is ready for the world,” he says.
So with new music out and a world tour in progress, what are the chances Fleetwood Mac will eventually land on Maui?
It looks good.
“We’re actively approaching it. “The whole band is pushing to do it. We’re just trying to get the logistics done. I’m working extremely hard to make it happen. It will either be when we go to Australia or come back, which is just before Christmas, with a couple shows in Honolulu and for sure, ‘bend it like Beckham’ back to Maui,” he enthuses about the prospect.
While he’s out on the road, Fleetwood is thinking of keeping in touch with his Lahaina restaurant through Skype.
“I’m going to be doing some online face time with the restaurant, talking to people behind the bar out of my dressing room,” he says. “I need to be attached to the business and that’s a good way to do that. I’m going to try and do it on a regular basis, which will be fun.”
In conclusion Mick adds, “I send my love to the island, and we’ll hopefully pull it off and celebrate Fleetwood Mac on the island.”
The tour: Fleetwood Mac plays in Phoenix tonight; Denver on Saturday. The current leg of the North American tour ends on July 6 in Sacramento. The European tour begins in Dublin, Ireland, on Sept. 20. The band’s Australian tour opens in Sydney on Nov. 10 and runs through Dec. 2, and then they head to New Zealand on Dec. 6.