Neil Finn and Mike Campbell bring fresh energy to revitalized Fleetwood Mac

Neil Finn and Mike Campbell bring fresh energy to revitalized Fleetwood Mac

TwinCities.Com   |   Written by Ross Raihala

Article From TwinCities.Com
When we last saw Fleetwood Mac in 2014, Christine McVie had returned to the band after a 16-year break, fully reuniting the “Rumours”-era lineup. After decades of drama, it seemed there was finally peace in the group as they made plans for this year’s outing to serve as their farewell.

But in April, the band shocked the world by firing Lindsey Buckingham and replacing him with guitarist Mike Campbell (of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) and vocalist Neil Finn (of Split Enz and Crowded House). Earlier this month, Buckingham responded by suing the band he fronted for decades. Drama!

This new version of Fleetwood Mac headlined St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center Monday night for a crowd of more than 13,000 eager to hear what Stevie Nicks told the crowd was their “new adventure.”

The good news is that Buckingham’s absence appears to have given the core members a second wind, with Nicks in particular looking happier than she’s ever been in the group. And, crucially, Campbell and Finn didn’t try to imitate Buckingham, but instead brought fresh energy to the stage.

Fleetwood Mac concerts over the past two decades have offered an at-times chilly professionalism, especially those without Christine McVie. But Monday night, there was a sense of uncertainty in the best possible sense. The vibe felt like “Yeah, we’re still figuring this out but we’re having a ton of fun.” (This was the 10th stop on the tour and the band has tinkered with the set list along the way.)

Finn proved to be a fine addition to Fleetwood Mac with his surprisingly powerful voice and casual chemistry with Nicks. But the real star of the show was Campbell, a longtime pal of the group who still wasn’t afraid to put his own spin on things with some creative, thrilling solos.

Fleetwood Mac also used the opportunity to add some songs from throughout their entire history, something Buckingham largely avoided. Nicks handled lead vocals for “Black Magic Woman” and acknowledged that Santana had the bigger hit with it: “Even I thought that they wrote it. They didn’t.”

Even better was Campbell tackling both guitar and vocals for the old Peter Green staple “Oh Well” and instantly turning it into a new Fleetwood Mac classic.

Of course, the set list included the staples — “The Chain,” “Dreams,” “Rhiannon,” “Go Your Own Way” — and nothing from “Tusk,” the Buckingham-heavy double album that nearly tore the band apart. They also found time to give nods to the new members, with Nicks joining Finn on vocals for Split Enz’s “I Got You” and Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over.”

Nicks — who sounded rusty at the start of the show — had opened up quite a bit by the time she nailed “Landslide.” She kicked off the encore with Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” and truly went for it during the choruses. Clearly she appreciated having some fresh material to sing. (She also faked out the audience by gazing at Campbell during the designated twirl time at the end of “Gypsy,” but worked in a quick spin to cheers.)

It didn’t all work. Mick Fleetwood’s mid-show drum solo, which dragged on for more than 10 minutes, should’ve been cut in half. And beyond “Oh Well,” the other stabs at blues numbers felt wonky at times. The ultimate takeaway, though, is that this is a band reborn (for, like, the 10th time) and it’s going to be fun to see where they go from here.