Fleetwood Mac has reinvented itself again.
More than 45 years into a sometimes-tumultuous history marked by personnel changes and intra-band breakups and makeups, Fleetwood Mac has recast itself as more of an alternative band than, well, the album-rock juggernaut that so many bands were rebelling against in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers plan to release an EP – yes, not a full album – later this week, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham said last night on stage at Madison Square Garden. It will feature a new song “Sad Angel,” which is anything but sad, as it plays up the bounciness of the mighty Mac rhythm section of drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie and guitarwork that would be at home on an R.E.M. record. “Have you been conquered by the war?” ask Buckingham and Stevie Nicks in their trademark harmonies, while Buckingham pogos in place.
“Every time we come together, it’s different,” Buckingham said, following a gorgeous version of “Dreams.” “Even after all this time, we’re still evolving.”
As unlikely as that seems, on this current tour, it feels true. While there is no new album to promote this time, the tour is far from a greatest-hits nostalgia package.
They explore their punk-ish side on “Not That Funny” – part of a string of songs from their artistic, experimental album “Tusk” that formed the impressive heart of the show. Buckingham stripped back the title track’s opening to make it more like a White Stripes song, with just him and his guitar. Nicks was thrilling on “Sisters of the Moon,” adding that the band hadn’t played that song on tour since the late ‘70s, and the classic “Sara,” which had more of a guitar focus than the original.
The ever-evolving Buckingham-Nicks relationship also made up a big part of the set this tour, as they paired “Landslide,” Nicks’ song about their breakup, to “Never Going Back Again,” which Buckingham says is about a different relationship, but certainly could apply to theirs as he sings “Been down one time, been down two times, I’m never going back again.”
Their relationship is also part of the other “new” song, “Without You,” which was part of the recording sessions they did between the Buckingham Nicks’ debut album and the duo’s joining Fleetwood Mac. It’s a Cat Stevens-y love song about the happy part of their relationship.
The final encore “Say Goodbye,” from 2003’s “Say You Will” album, is about Buckingham finally being able to let go of their relationship.
“The war is over,” Nicks said, following “Landslide.”
“This is what keeps us going,” replied Buckingham.
(The tour returns to the Prudential Center on April 24 and Nikon at Jones Beach Theater on June 22.)
SETLIST: Second Hand News / The Chain / Dreams / Sad Angel / Rhiannon / Not That Funny / Tusk / Sisters of the Moon / Sara / Big Love / Landslide / Never Going Back Again / Without You / Gypsy / Eyes of the World / Gold Dust Woman / I'm So Afraid / Stand Back / Go Your Own Way // ENCORES: World Turning / Don't Stop / Silver Springs / Say Goodbye