You look for those little moments at a Fleetwood Mac concert.
Like when Christine McVie, back in the fold after a 16-year retirement, cracks a smile as the sellout crowd gives her a huge ovation after she sings her first line of the night. Or when Stevie Nicks and her ex, Lindsey Buckingham, exchange a glance, grasp one another’s hand and even share a hug. Or when McVie slaps her ex, John McVie, on the shoulder in a fond way.
Because Fleetwood Mac is rock’s famously fractured fivesome, you looked for those little signs Tuesday at Target Center, where the Rock Hall of Fame band launched its reunion tour with McVie.
Nicks hasn’t sounded this good since the early ’90s. Buckingham didn’t hog the spotlight as he did last year in St. Paul. McVie held her own, though her voice clearly doesn’t have arena oomph. And the band sounded terrific, as always. What a rhythm machine and what an articulate and emotional guitarist Buckingham is.
But, ultimately, this heyday incarnation — reassembled after some rocky years — came across as a democratic, respectful, polite and mostly sparks-free Fleetwood Mac. There weren’t any opening-night glitches. And the performance was never really tentative. But it was never really lived in. You’d love to see this band at least 10 shows into this 40-concert On With the Show Tour, especially because Tuesday’s opener was so encouraging.
The key thing that seemed to be missing was palpable camaraderie. Each lead singer stayed in his or her own space each time they sang. There were no sparks or even darts between Buckingham and Nicks, whose romantic tension has fueled Fleetwood Mac to superstardom since they joined the long-lived British/American band in 1975. To be sure, there were a couple of times on Tuesday when they turned toward one another — though they stood a good 20 feet apart — and sang pivotal lyrics as if they meant them. She was shooting lasers at him during “Silver Springs” as she proclaimed, “I know I could have loved you but you would not let me.”
Maybe a more telling moment about their relationship and this night came during “Landslide,” which is essentially a duet for them. Buckingham crept closer to Nicks than usual and when she hit the high note on “snow,” she rolled her eyes in disbelief that she could actually reach that note. He broke into a smile and suddenly there was an exchange of genuine emotion between them — even if their grasping of hands at the end seemed as much about showbiz as deep fondness.
The principal emotion during the nearly 2 ½-hour performance was the joy of having keyboardist McVie back in this group of graying veterans (who range in age from 65 to 71). She brought high harmonies and several songs, including “Little Lies,” “You Make Loving Fun” and the closing “Songbird,” back into the repertoire.
When drummer Mick Fleetwood introduced the band members, McVie received the night’s loudest and longest ovation. And Nicks, Buckingham and Fleetwood told the 17,000 fans how elated they were to have her back.
Nicks, who looked encouragingly at McVie all night, admitted she would have bet all her money that McVie would never return. Buckingham talked about this being the beginning of a new chapter with much new material to be written. Fleetwood declared: “Fer sure, the Mac is back.”
But only time will tell if this On with The Show Tour is a full-blown reunion, merely a victory lap or just a sense of closure for a oft-broken band before it retires.