I just realized this morning that I have consistently dwindling numbers when it comes to my history with Fleetwood Mac tours. My first one, in 1997, I went with Angel, Gina, and Gina's ex-husband Dave. In 2003 I went with Gina and her then-boyfriend Eric. In 2009 I went only with Gina. At this rate, since last night I went alone, the next time Fleetwood Mac goes on tour I'll have to send only half of myself.
The concert was more than worth it, though, even though I missed the first half hour of it. I don't think I had ever been so late to any concert before.
I quite naively assumed picking up a Zipcar in Seattle at 7:00 was early enough to get there in time for an 8:00 concert at the Tacoma Dome. Ha! What the hell was I thinking? Actually I was thinking I'd get down there in half an hour to forty-five minutes. Because I'm dumb.
I had wanted enough time to walk home from work and make myself a quick dinner before leaving; I also had to stop by Bartell Drugs on the way, which is why I left work at 4:45. I could have still done that if I'd been smart and just pushed everything back an hour, and tacked an extra hour on my Zipcar reservation, moving it back to 6:00. Lesson learned for next time, I guess. As it was, knowing I can pick up a Zipcar up to 15 minutes early with no penalty, I got in the car parked in the lot at 14th & Union at 6:45. It still took me nearly 15 minutes just to get to the freeway in Seattle via Madison Street.
Traffic was semi-heavy through much of Seattle, but had it stayed at that rate, I still would have made it to the concert on time. It was in and near Tacoma that the traffic got ridiculous -- no accidents or anything, just way too many cars on the road. This is why I hate driving. When I take the bus, even when it's delayed -- an often expected consequence of busing anyway -- it's still easy to relax most of the time. It's doubly frustrating when you're in a car that's supposed to get you to your destination far more quickly, and still you're inching along, your goal so near yet so far. I've never had another hour I wanted to slow down go by so quickly.
I finally got off the freeway in Tacoma at right about 8:00, still not knowing where I was going to park. I tried following the signs to Tacoma Dome parking, figuring I was running so late I would just pay out the nose for whatever I could find -- only to have the Tacoma Dome offramp blocked, and get filtered through heavy concert traffic to an alternate exit and to alternate Tacoma Dome parking. After going through a rather circuitous route, I never did find a lot specific to the Tacoma Dome. I did try pulling into the Tacoma Dome Station (for public transit) parking garage, only to be told it was $20 and cash only. I had no cash on me.
You might wonder why the fuck I didn't take any cash with me. Well, let me tell you something! This turned out to be quite the blessing in disguise, financially. The guy told me I could go to "Pink Elephant, up on Pacific" and waved me off, adding, "Good luck." I had to turn into an empty lot with no public parking just to figure out where Pacific was, and it turned out to be only about a block away. I saw the Pink Elephant sign, but all I could see was the expected car wash; I saw no public parking or attendant or anything.
I did find a small lot with several empty spaces right next door to it, though, and this was where a minor miracle happened. I pulled in, assuming it likely to be too good to be true; there was a box for putting in cash -- which I did not have -- and no attendant. A sign said "$10 maximum Event Parking." This was all of maybe five blocks from the Tacoma Dome, so it seemed odd to me that it was not more full.
There was a sign with a QR reader for paying by phone! I had to create an account, which I tried to do while walking away but had to walk half a block back to input my car's license plate number. And then I signed up for four hours. The listed final price? $1.30.
What? I'll take it!
We'll see what actually shows up on my credit card statement, but that was a fairly nice consolation prize for getting to the concert so late.
I then walked as fast as I could the few blocks over to the Tacoma Dome. I've been to concerts where the artist has been as much as an hour late getting onstage, and I half hoped that would happen here -- me and hundreds of others; I was far from the only one getting there late. But, as I walked through a large parking lot across the street from the building, I could hear the band performing. I even heard Stevie Nicks say "Thank you!" to the crowd. God knows how many songs I missed, or which ones.
I don't remember what song was playing once I finally got inside, but I still went to use the bathroom so I wouldn't spend the next two and a half hours with a painfully full bladder. I do remember which song was playing as soon as I got inside the seating area: "Rhiannon." Dammit, my favorite Fleetwood Mac song! And I was only able to half-pay attention to it, as I spent the entire length of the song making my way to my seat.
I was in the first section to the left when facing the stage, 15 rows back from the front of it. That ticket cost me $250 -- the most expensive one I've ever bought for this band, I think -- and I'm pretty sure it's also the closest I've ever been to this band performing. The show was so great once I got there, I hardly cared anymore about what I had missed. I did have to walk past everyone in the row to the seat right on the railing at the other end -- on the upside, there was no section to the left of me, so I had a completely unobscured view of the stage. I had to kick someone out of my seat once I reached it.
It's extremely noteworthy that Christine McVie is touring with the band for the first time since 1997 -- which had been my first time seeing them live, back then. When they toured in 1997, it had been the first time Lindsey Buckingham had toured with them since probably 1983 (he recorded on Tango in the Night, but left the band before they toured). So 1997 was their first time touring with this optimal lineup in about a decade and a half, meaning that lineup was touring sober for the first time ever -- which meant they sounded better than they ever had live before. 1997 was easily the best tour to get to see them live.
After 1997, though, Christine McVie decided she couldn't handle it anymore, and she left. The band released an album without her in 2003, and toured at least twice without her (2003 and 2009); they may have done another tour I didn't go to and thus don't remember, I'm not sure. In any case, Christine was never my favorite (though I still love her), and it was a surprise to discover how much less Fleetwood Mac was without her. The band just wasn't the same.
So it really was a thrill to have her back last night. And truly, these people now in their mid- to late-sixties, they all sounded just as great as they ever did -- this show was every bit as good as 1997 had been. I'm so, so glad I went.
Some song highlights:
"Gold Dust Woman": I had read an interview with Stevie Nicks in Rolling Stone in which she spoke about what she calls "the Crackhead Dance" during this song. So I had a slight bit of insight when she went a little spastic during a longer musical interlude for this number. It wasn't quite as intense as I was hoping but whatever. It sufficed. This song, in terms of sound, was spectacular live.
"Sisters of the Moon": This track, like a couple of others, was one from Tusk that I don't recall seeing them perform live before. This was another great one, and I kind of loved the moon backdrop.
"Seven Wonders": Another song added to the live set list after decades (originally from the 1987 album Tango in the Night), this was re-added after Stevie Nicks sang it during her guest spot on American Horror Story. She even gave the show "a shoutout" after finishing the song, thanking them "for bringing this song back."
"Go Your Own Way": It turns out my current (it's changed over the years) favorite song on my favorite album by anyone of all time (Rumours, duh) isn't quite as great live as it is on the album. It was great and all and I still bounced and danced to it, but in a live setting it wasn't nearly as good as . . .
"World Turning": This was how they opened their several-song encore set, and it was amazing. It include a long drum solo by Mick Fleetwood, who kept shouting unintelligible things to whip up the crowd. This is in my opinion one of Fleetwood Mac's greatest songs (from their self-titled 1975 album, the first to feature Stevie Nicks and also includes "Rhiannon"), and it was a genuine thrill to hear it like this live. Lindsey just sat down on stage during the drum solo, guitar in his lap, tapping his feet.
"Silver Springs": The Stevie Nicks Song That Could -- originally kept off the Rumours track list by Lindsey out of spite; long loved by fans as a B-side (basically Stevie's companion to "Go Your Own Way"); a staple in their live shows since at least 1997. I actually think it doesn't quite fit with the rest of the sequencing on Rumours and Lindsey ultimately made the right decision, but the legendary status this song enjoys is still deserved, and it sounded great.
"Songbird": Another one from Rumours, a return of the requisite final act of the encore set by Christine McVie now that she's back. Stage hands wheeled out a grand piano for her to sit at and perform the song by herself under a spotlight. It's a beautiful song that she performed so beautifully that I actually got slightly teary. That was a first. Maybe I'm just getting old and sappy.
If I had to guess any of the songs I missed at the beginning, one was surely "The Chain," with which they have long been opening their shows. But I can't think of anything else vital that I didn't get to hear. If there was anything disappointing, it was that I know they've been in the studio recording new stuff, but they didn't perform any new songs at all. But that's okay, really. Having never heard the new songs I don't know what I missed. Hmm, wait a minute -- I never heard "Dreams," their only #1 single. Perhaps they played that while I was parking. That's okay, though. I like that song a lot but it was never my favorite.
It took a predictably long time to get the hell out of there after the show ended, so I was glad I had the wherewithal a few days ago to extend my Zipcar reservation from ending at 12:00 to 12:30. I got home far more quickly than it took to drive down there, but I still reached the parking spot on Capitol Hill at 12:17. It was 12:30 by the time I was about ready for bed, and I got all of 4 hours and 50 minutes of sleep. I may just nap on the plane tonight.