May 15, 2004
Chastain Park Amphitheatre - Atlanta, GA



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  The third time's the charm for Fleetwood Mac. It's hard to believe, but the venerable California pop band has hit Atlanta three times on the Say You Will tour. I'm happy to report that the '04 model is much improved from a year ago as they've finally hit the groove of being a quartet. Sure, there's still a hole in the vocal harmonies that even the best hired guns can't fill, but this version of the band can do just fine. Perhaps the fact that there's a sold out crowd for a third helping is testament enough. Without the sugary sweetness of Christine McVie in the mix, the set list is a lot saltier. Gone are former staples like "Say You Love Me," "Over My Head" and "You Make Loving Fun." But after opening with "The Chain" and wasting no time in hitting "Dreams" and "Rhiannon", this version proved they didn't need to rely on McVie's gems. This well-oiled Mac felt looser and more confident than last year. Lindsey Buckingham is now the undisputed star of the band. No longer lost in Stevie's shadow, the should-be guitar god took extended leads in "I'm So Afraid" and the amazing new song "Come" that brought the crowd to its feet, which at Chastain is a major accomplishment. Of course, his solo acoustic turn on "Big Love" is still the most jaw dropping moment in the concert, a flurry of notes, screams and folksy subtlety blur together into an emotional climax. An impeccably paced "Landslide" followed as Stevie delivered the sad lyric with a resignation and understanding that she never could've mustered three decades ago. That dynamic intensity is still the key to the band's appeal. Lindsey pushed hard through the likes of "I Know I'm Not Wrong" and "Second Hand News," flexing his male musical muscle while Stevie's heartfelt ballads added softness and heart.

As usual, bassist John McVie stayed in the background, but Mick Fleetwood refused to be caged behind his drum kit. During a solo spot in "World Turning," the man stomped over the stage, yelling in some guttural language known only to him. He slapped triggered drum pads attached to his chest and basically went from mildly amusing to creepy and disturbing in a matter of a few minutes. Even Lindsey and Stevie got a bit odd during "Tusk." Lindsey stalked around Stevie in a threatening way until she started back at him. Eventually, they fell into an embrace and began swaying across the stage. The dance continues? The crowd goes wild. Other magical moments included the return of Stevie's "Sara" (after a long absence from performance) and a gorgeous, delicate "Beautiful Child." Of course, it's hard to describe the middle-aged ecstasy of the crowd during "Go Your Own Way" and "Don't Stop." Stevie was spinning as Lindsey's arms beat the guitar like an ape that didn't understand. It was massive and amphitheatre rocking but in a way that's almost unique to Fleetwood Mac, it still felt personal and connective. That's the magic of Mac.


(Chris McKay / concertshots.com)

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