A rare pleasure to have unexpected London Lou. She usually exists by the seaside and I get to come play with her. The tyranny of the fluffy animal creature.
This evening though “Rumours of Fleetwood Mac” were playing at Cadogan Hall. Her mate has been on the tour bus with them for a year, and wanted us to see what it was like, so we got a pair of guest list freebies.
A packed out hall, usually reserved for Thomas Tallis concerts. We all sat down to watch a gig. I’m not used to that. Too many festivals. I’m used to being able to jiggle around and stick my chin up like your dad. Maybe take a step to the left, step to the right. Do a little shuffle. Check my pockets. Have a sip of beer. Make a comment to the person next to me.
We sat in serried ranks. They came out.
It’s all sanctioned by the band members. A bit of audio plays – a recorded intro by Mick Fleetwood. Last night I said to Tristan: “I just don’t get the whole thing of playing someone else’s songs when you’re a good musician…” “Money,” he replied. “And a guaranteed audience.”
They are excellent musicians, and he’s right. The place was packed. I don’t know how much tickets are, and how the money is cut. There are plenty of people involved in this so they aren’t necessarily printing money, but they are evidently saving a fair amount by not emulating the lifestyle as well as the music. The original band were true rockers, fucking fighting and feuding. The songs run the gamut from ballads to psychedelic strangeness to hard rock. The original band and the tribute were immensely talented. The drum beat on Simon and Garfunkel’s “Cecilia” was the result of a botched attempt to imitate what Mick Fleetwood does on Tusk. Over it all the beautiful harmonics of the English and American female vocalists Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks. McVie died last year. Nicks is still going, somehow, aged 74. The quantity of narcotics that they must have put away in their heyday boggles belief.
“It’s like Fleetwood Mac without the edge,” says Lou. And yeah – you feel safe. You aren’t expecting one of them to start choking someone or collapse. They play with competence and skill. “They never have an off night,” my friend observes. The original band must have had plenty, I muse. But it’s a good gig. Some of them are really channeling. I find myself imagining the Stevie Nicks (Jess Harwood) singing along to her CD collection growing up, perfecting the distinctive vocal fry. She’s got it down, and the gestural world she’s in feels authentic. It’s a mixture of imitation and channeling. Across the board it is regimented. Tight. Polished.
I wonder if they write their own songs and practice them while they’re on tour or if perfecting the imitation gives them the artistic satisfaction we all crave. It was a good night, and I wasn’t around to see the original band so it’s the best I’ll get. Lovely to have Lou in town too, even if only briefly.