1997-- Will Mac Tour Soar Like Eagles?
Will Mac Tour
Soar Like Eagles?
Burbank - Fleetwood Mac's reunion concert Thursday night on a Warner Bros.
sound stage in Burbank got off to a wobbly start.
Only one song into the two-hour set, which was taped for MTV, singer Stevie
Nicks twice botched the opening line to "Dreams," one of the band's signature
songs. Each time, the group had to stop and restart the song. "I'm so sorry,"
said Nicks, who was greeted with a roar from the crowd of 800 when she finally
got it right on the third try. "I guess I'm really nervous." Her anxiety was
The show, a warmup for a fall arena tour that is expected to reach Southern
California in early October, was the first full-length concert in 15 years by
Fleetwood Mac's most successful lineup: Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine
McVie and co-founders Mick Fleetwood and John McVie.
The questions facing the reunion: Is the quintet still strong musically after
all these years and how big an audience is waiting to see it again?
The irony of the reunion is that the band will again be pitted against its
late-70's chart rival, the Eagles. Two decades ago, the groups were mainstream
pop-rock blockbusters, both based in Southern California and writing about
relationships with style and grace. Fleetwood Mac's 1977 album, "Rumours," and
the Eagles' 1976 collection, "Hotel California," remain two of the biggest
selling packages of all time--with an estimated sales of 17 million and 14
million copies, respectively.
Now, Fleetwood Mac's reunion will be measured by many in the industry against
the commercial standards of the Eagles' hugely lucrative 1994-96 reunion tour.
The worldwide trek grossed some $210 million and was witnessed by more than
3.5 million people.
Add to that the estimated $200 million to $250 million that the Eagles grossed
in album and merchandise sales and it's easy to see why Fleetwood Mac, which
splintered in 1987 for various personal and professional reasons, would be
tempted to regroup.
Industry observers, however, are skeptical that the reuinited Mac can reach
the Eagles' level because, unlike its rival, the band has remained active over
the years despite the loss of key members, perhaps tarnishing its image. Gary
Bongiovanni, editor in chief of the concert trade publication Pollstar, says
it would be wise for the group to keep ticket prices lower than the Eagles,
who charged more than $100 for some seats in selected cities.
Still, promoters are looking forward to the U.S. tour and retailers are eager
to hear the band's upcoming live album, which will be culled from the MTV
telecast and is due in August on Reprise Records.
"I understand that the Eagles were basically gone for 14 years and that
Fleetwood Mac has continued to exist in some form," said Gary Arnold, vice
president of marketing for the 272-store Best Buy chain, "but if you are a
Fleetwood Mac fan, this is the lineup you want to see."
Fleetwood Mac reintroduced itself the same way the Eagles did after their long
break--with an MTV special taped on the same sound stage. (The Eagles, too,
released a live album from their MTV telecast.)
"The Eagles' success didn't inspire me, but it may have inspired Mick," said
Buckingham, adding that the seeds for a reunion were planted last year when he
invited Fleetwood to play drums on a solo album the singer-guitarist was
recording. "And I would be naive to say it didn't inspire the record company.
Obviously, the lightbulb went off."
Buckingham and his bandmates, however, all insist that the reunion is not only
Speaking of the Eagles' leaders, Don Henley and Glenn Frey, Buckingham said:
"I don't know either of those guys very well, but my understanding is that
they sort of begrudgingly got back together and that they don't really get
along even now. But I'm telling you, with this fivesome, we are actually
getting along better than we ever have. It seems to transcend the formula a
The band, especially an enthusiastic Buckingham, certainly seemed to be
enjoying itself Thursday before an appreciative audience as it trotted out 22
songs--from such hits as "You Make Loving Fun" and President Clinton's 1992
inaugural theme, "Don't Stop," to four new songs.
During a spirited encore of "Tusk" and "Don't Stop," the group was joined on
stage by the USC Marching Band, 77 members strong, before the show ended with
Christine McVie alone at the piano for "Songbird."
"This was a very special night for us," a beaming Fleetwood told the crowd as
the band took a bow. "It's been a loooong time."