The emotional highlight of Monday night’s sold-out Fleetwood Mac concert at Madison Square Garden — their first New York show of the post-Lindsey Buckingham era — wasn’t even a Fleetwood Mac song.
It was “Free Fallin’,” the 1989 Tommy Petty solo hit that Stevie Nicks led as the first song of the encore in tribute to her late friend and “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” collaborator. The cover was also a nod to Mike Campbell, the new Fleetwood Mac-ster and former guitarist for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Photos of Petty — some with Nicks — flashed on the video screen behind Fleetwood Mac as they all melted into one generation of rock royalty that came up together and became legends of the same era. At that moment, whatever drama that led Buckingham to be booted from Fleetwood in April 2018 didn’t seem to matter.
Another memorable moment came when Neil Finn — the former Crowded House frontman who jointed Fleetwood, along with Campbell, to replace Buckingham — did CH’s ’80s hit “Don’t Dream It’s Over” with a little help from Nicks. As he strummed on acoustic guitar, Finn had the crowd singing along “Hey now, hey now.”
But there were other moments when Buckingham was clearly missed, such as when the band confronted his departure headfirst by opening with Finn leading “The Chain.” It just didn’t feel the same with Finn fronting “Go Your Own Way,” and he needed help from Christine McVie and Nicks to bring home “Don’t Stop” in the encore.
Fleetwod Mac missed more than Buckingham’s voice and presence alongside Nicks — the band missed his energy. Campbell did his best to play the role of resident guitar god. though.
The band — which will bring its “An Evening with Fleetwood Mac” tour to Prudential Center on Wednesday and back to the Garden on March 18 — tried to make up for that by dipping into their pre-Buckingham catalog: Nicks even reclaimed “Black Magic Woman,” a tune that original member Peter Green wrote wrote for Fleetwood Mac before it became a signature hit for Santana.
Indeed, the concert was even more about Nicks — ever the mystical enchantress — who inspired the bohemian looks of some women in the audience. She had to carry the show, and she knew it.
In fact, one of the biggest roars of the night came when Nicks — who will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist at Barclays Center on March 29, after already being enshrined with Fleetwood Mac — did one of her signature twirls at the end of “Gypsy.”
This gypsy remains magical.
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