Stevie Nicks is spinning.
Stevie Nicks is twirling stage left, spinning and grinning, the billowy sleeves of her black velvet and chiffon dress flapping wildly (this dress is a dream come true, by the way. This dress is time travel and perfection and making me want to set my wardrobe on fire). Lindsey Buckingham is lean and frenetic, all black leather and shredding solos, and Mick Fleetwood’s got a Muppet grin and he’s banging on a gong, and if Stevie Nicks sings “Landslide”—at this point I’m practically shaking my friend Andrea—if Stevie Nicks sings “Landslide,” I am going to split in two.
A long sheath descends from the ceiling, Buckingham gives a primal rock god performance of “Big Love” (“Watch this,” the guy next to me says, pointing insistently at the screen showcasing an HD Buckingham. “Watch this, you’ll never forget it.”) And when it ends I think my surprised heart might leap out of my chest, but it freezes in mid air because the room gets quiet and Stevie Nicks sings that she’s been afraid of changing cause she built her life around the guy to her right, grinning and strumming.
It’s easy to get sour on live music, especially when it’s accidentally in your life. It’s that band at the bar, it’s that guy at the party who’s still showing up with his guitar. And they’re both fine, sure, but what’s so transcendent? Or that’s what I ask myself as I scroll ticket prices and wonder what the big idea is—is it worth it? It never seems to be, especially with big acts, the ones who seem so far past their prime. “I wish I could time travel,” I say to friends. “I’d time travel back, I’d see this band in the 70’s, I’d see that band in the 80’s, I’d see them all fresh off their best albums, but why see them now?” Bob Dylan poisoned the well for me—I thought I’d see a legend, but ended up grimacing through hours with the mumbling crypt keeper, propped up and dreadful. “I wish I could time travel.”
When the first chords of “Secondhand News” exploded through the stadium, I wondered if I had. How was it possible that in 2013 I was watching the beginning of Rumours, and how was it so…electric? And everyone on stage didn’t just sound like they did on the album, a strange compliment that always begs the question “So why did I empty my wallet to see this across town when it’s back home in my speakers?” Fleetwood Mac sounded better than the original—they had the wild energy of musical attack paired with the warm glow of together-again.
The sweetness between Buckingham and Nicks was unexpectedly heartwarming. They smile and play to each other, turn the microphones to deliver lyrics face to face. At one point Nicks told a story about how Fleetwood and Mac wanted a guitarist, not a duo. “And Lindsey was such a good boyfriend, he said he wouldn’t join unless I could come too,” she said, to which Buckingham joked, motioning to the crowd, “Well I think it all worked out.”
They were home, they said, and they seemed to mean it. They went to high school in San Jose, and started playing music together their senior year. Nicks thanked a smorgasbord of childhood friends who were at the show, including her first boyfriend. At one point, the pair closed a song with a huge hug, and came out for their encores holding hands. They talked about songs they had written for each other, the ones that helped them get over their breakup and create the relationship they have now. They sang them together, watching each other, swiveling their mics to lock eyes.
Every song Fleetwood Mac song that I ever wanted to hear live, musical experiences that seemed impossible in my lifetime, happened one after another. “Secondhand News” followed by “The Chain,” then “Dreams.” “Rhiannon” complete with trippy Stevie Nicks dancing, noodling arms and flicked wrists, the original witchy hippie girl at the show. “Gold Dust Woman” required Stevie Nicks to throw on a beaded gold cape and perform an elaborate shadowy cape dance. The whole audience screamed along to “Go Your Own Way” and “Don’t Stop.” An unexpected second encore with a “Silver Springs” that made the crowd go quiet and wide-eyed. And all along Mick Fleetwood is grinning, yelling, doing a drum solo in the first encore and you can’t take your eyes off of that Santa Claus face, and he’s yelping and telling the crowd to get excited, so tangled in the energy of it all that he almost loses his voice at the end.
Check out the full set list here, and know these two important things: Yes, Stevie Nicks put on a top hat at the end and it was glorious. And yes I destroyed my throat from singing and screaming my expanding fan girl heart out, so much so that I woke up at 3AM convinced I had accidentally swallowed a knife.
*Photo by Andrea Echstenkamper