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Wednesday, November 26, 1997

The musical soap opera that is '70s supergroup Fleetwood Mac played itself out over the course of a both fascinating and strange two-and-half hours on Sunday night at the Marine Midland Arena.
Before a boisterous, near-capacity crowd of 18,000, the recently-reunited fivesome, whose fractiously-made 1977 album Rumours is one of the best selling records of all time, didn't disappoint exactly.
How could they when many in the middle-aged audience --apparently stuck in a time warp judging from the amount of black leather fringe and long shag haircuts -- just wanted a glimpse of the band's current state of psychodrama?
The temperature up on the stage was certainly warm, particularly during Landslide when Nicks, alone with Buckingham, put her hands on his shoulders while he played guitar. The song ended with a kiss.
Unfortunately, some incredibly self-indulgent moments temporarily destroyed the band's pleasant, if nostalgia-driven spell, which was primarily woven by the tambourine-playing gypsy that is still Nicks at age 49. Every time she twirled her chiffon-and-velvet outfits while teetering in suede platform boots, the arena went nuts. Especially during her signature songs, Dreams, Rhiannon and Goldust Woman, recently popularized by Courtney Love's band Hole and for which Nicks brought out a gold sequined shawl.
The worst showboater was Buckingham, now 47, who plays his guitar and howls as if he's performing some kind of exorcism. During the first of several overextended guitar solos, half of the audience left their seats for a beer even though he got a high-five from someone in the front row at the end, perhaps thankful it was finally over.
"When five strong individuals come together, just about anything can happen," Buckingham said earlier. No kidding.
Meanwhile, Fleetwood, the oldest member at age 50, demonstrated one of the most bizarre drum solos in recent memory by getting out from behind his kit and pounding his chest to play electronic drum effects. This, if you can imagine, went on for an annoying 10 minutes.
But, for the most part, this formation of Fleetwood Mac, who last stopped playing together when Buckingham left the group in 1987, was a cohesive unit backed by three additional musicians and two singers on an open stage where the speakers and lights were suspended from the ceiling above them. Highlights included the show opener The Chain and other group numbers like Second Hand News and Tusk.
The only Canadian stop on Fleetwood Mac's 40-date tour was Vancouver, but that show was cancelled when Buckingham got ill.
A spokesman for Florida-based MagicWorks Promotion said a routing problem prevented the reunion tour from coming to Toronto this year because neither Maple Leaf Gardens or SkyDome were available when needed. The closest stops for Torontonians were last Friday in Detroit and Sunday night here.
The current Mac attack has been viewed by skeptics as the latest in a wave of reunion tours that have included The Eagles, KISS, the Sex Pistols, and newer band Jane's Addiction, but it has been more successful than most.
The group's new live album, The Dance, which includes four new songs, has remained in Billboard's Top 10 for the last two months while their two-month tour, which wraps up Sunday in Landover, Md., has been selling well despite hefty ticket prices.