NEW YORK (AP) — Their "dream girl" is back.
The members of Fleetwood Mac each took a moment Monday night at New York City's Madison Square Garden to welcome longtime bandmate Christine McVie back to the stage after a 16-year hiatus, thus restoring the band to its mid-1970s and most successful configuration.
In her trademark gypsy shawl, Stevie Nicks said the dream catchers she casts to the crowd each night finally netted her old friend. Lindsey Buckingham said her return marked "a beautiful, profound and poetic new chapter." Mick Fleetwood simply looked to the ceiling and shouted "Amen."
In between, they ripped through all their old hits with a fervor that belied their age.
The band opened with "The Chain," a song emblematic of Fleetwood Mac's lasting legacy, despite its many breakups and personal upheavals. The collective power of the three singers' voices belting out the song's refrain, "You would never break the chain," seemed to drown out the quarrels and drug-fueled rancor that tore them apart over the years.
The McVie-penned and long-dormant "You Make Loving Fun" was back on the set list, and upon hearing her sing the opening line, "Sweet, wonderful you," the crowd erupted in an approving roar. McVie, 71, looked comfortable and happy to be back. Her voice was strong and a welcome presence.
During the band's concert in New York City last year, guitarist, singer and songwriter Buckingham, singer and songwriter Nicks, drummer Fleetwood, and Christine's ex-husband and bassist John McVie powered through their catalog of classics. But despite a purposeful performance, it was hard to not feel shortchanged by the exclusion of Christine McVie's songs.
With her return to the fold this time around, however, the band was free to explore its entire repertoire, including McVie's songs "Over My Head," ''Little Lies" and "Everywhere."
One of the highlights of the night was "Second Hand News," which the band played with the energy of young musicians playing for their first big break. The 65-year-old Buckingham, especially, attacked the guitar with such intensity and enthusiasm, you'd think it was his first time playing in front of a large audience.
Dressed in skin-tight jeans, he stomped in slow-motion across the stage during a hair-raising guitar solo for "I'm So Afraid," as the large screen behind the performers zoomed in on his dexterous fingers plucking away at the guitar strings.
While age has not diminished his agility, it has taken a slight toll on Nicks' voice. "Dreams," took on a different feel to accommodate her on some of the song's higher notes. A couple of backup singers helped out with the harder to reach registers and harmonies. But on her other signature songs, like "Silver Springs" and "Landslide," Nicks' voice was intact and cut through like a sharpened knife.
The New York show, the first of a two-night stint, is part of a 33-city "On With the Show" tour that started Sept. 30 in Minneapolis and is scheduled to wrap up Dec. 20 in Tampa, Florida.
Buckingham recently told The Associated Press that he, Christine McVie and Fleetwood have tracked some songs for a new album, but their concerted effort to finish it won't begin until after the tour. For now, the band is content focusing on being back on the road, playing their classic hits with their long lost friend.
"You have to look at the five (of us) as a study in chemistry," Buckingham told the AP. "What a lot of the fans really bought into was beyond music ... it was this beautiful chemistry that they saw between the five of us."
But the final encore Monday night belonged to only one: McVie. She performed her signature song, "Songbird," solo on a baby grand piano, with a bit of help from Buckingham on the guitar solo. Her rendition brought the sold-out audience to a hush.
The significance of her return was not lost on her.
"I've been away quite a long time and you don't often get a chance to do something you love so much twice in your life."
Entertainment Writer Mike Cidoni Lennox contributed to this story.
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