Friday, April 1
Just a few months after Fleetwood Mac wrapped a nearly two-year world tour, the band’s leader and spirit-animal, drummer Mick Fleetwood, is back on the road with his side-project dedicated to the original Mac’s blues years, the Peter Green-era.
Though Mick Fleetwood is clearly the star of the show – a towering presence in his vaudevillian attire and with those wild eyes and just-behind-the-beat drum fills, he marks his own version of time and marks it so well, it is lead guitarist, Rick Vito, who truly shines.
Vito, a journeyman blues player, was once a member of Fleetwood Mac, he had the unenviable task of replacing Lindsey Buckingham in the late 1980s, and took the group, somewhat tentatively, back to its blues roots.
Here there’s no need to be tentative, and with full relish Vito tears through those vintage Mac numbers like Oh Well, Love That Burns and of course Black Magic Woman. He’s also the leading light for blues staples by Otis Rush (Homework) and Sonny Boy Williasmson (Eyesight to the Blind). Bassist Lenny Castellanos and keyboardist Mark Johnstone are competent but largely unexciting. They could be part of any “blues night” house-band. What is palpable though is the love of the music – from both players and audience. It’s great to feel part of this show.
Fleetwood takes a spot at centre stage on a cocktail kit during the second half, and somewhat absurdly, kills the mood of the night with a ponderous drum solo – the same one he trots out with his other band in the stadiums. Halfway through the interminable racket he is clearly shown up by his drum-tech, assisting on the smaller kit. But to the fans it is Mick Fleetwood that is the star. It is Mick Fleetwood’s band. It is Mick Fleetwood’s night. It is Mick Fleetwood’s right.
Actually Rick Vito was the reason to get anything from the night – his work a tribute not only to Peter Green but to the slide playing of original Mac member Jeremy Spencer.
World Turning – from the Buckingham/Nicks era, was fun until the drum solo, but Stop Messin’ Around seemed the right antidote to that bloat – in every way.
And of course Albatross had to be the encore. Again Vito was incredible, playing parts originally layered by three guitarists. He earned his keep for Mick Fleetwood. That’s for sure.
This review first appeared in The Dominion Post and online at Stuff here