The Fleetwood Mac that showed up Thursday night at Capital Centre was a collection of gifted individuals that never quite coalesced into a band. Lindsey Buckingham, the glue that had held the pieces together in the most satisfying mainstream pop band of the past 11 years, quit the group this summer. In his absence, the "Big Mac" has lapsed into a musical revue led by two female stars supported by all-star sidemen.
After 20 years of playing together, founding members Mick Fleetwood and John McVie are still the best argument in rock 'n' roll for a human rhythm section. They gave uptempo rockers such as "Oh Well" and "World Turning" a vigorous physicality. Buckingham was replaced by two singer-guitarists: Billy Burnette, who sang four of Buckingham's old singles but couldn't match his predecessor's vibrant tenor or quirky stage presence; and Rick Vito, who proved an excellent lead guitarist on the band's early blues numbers, as well as its later pop hits, but lacked Buckingham's compositional approach to the guitar.
Keyboardist Christine McVie served the rich melodies and adult romanticism of her songs well with her smoky alto. Whether it was an old song like "You Make Loving Fun" or a new one like "Tell Me Lies," she settled into her bouncy hooks so comfortably that she completely disarmed the listener. By contrast, Stevie Nicks, the crowd's favorite, was the evening's biggest musical disappointment. Once an enchanting singer, she sang Thursday in a nasal, flat voice that undermined the band's harmonies and her own melodies. Her more recent songs were maudlin, tuneless affairs.
Two extra female background singers and an extra percussionist only cluttered the sound. "There's been a rumor going around that this is a Fleetwood Mac farewell tour," Burnette told the crowd. "That's not true; this particular band is just getting started." If so, it still has a way to go.