Christine McVie rejoins Fleetwood Mac for On With The Show tour | Herald Sun (AUS)

APRIL 08, 2015 10:00PM
Cameron Adams National music writer
Herald Sun

CHRISTINE McVie’s return to Fleetwood Mac has made many people extremely happy — none more so than the other members of Fleetwood Mac.

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The gang’s all back … the Rumours line-up of Fleetwood Mac is together again. Source: Supplied

At one point during her 16-year sabbatical from Fleetwood Mac bandmate Stevie Nicks straight up offered McVie $5 million right there and then if she’d rejoin the band.

“I said ‘Is that all!,” McVie laughs. “I’m only worth $5 million?!”

It’s worth noting that 40 US dates of their On With the Show tour since McVie officially rejoined in January 2014 generated over US$74 million, and they’ll at least triple that when they spend most of this year touring before winding up in Australia and New Zealand in November.

Once she was back in Mac, Nicks gave her friend a silver chain, a metaphorical gift that McVie says echoes the sentiment of the band’s classic The Chain because “the chain of the band will never be broken” then she adds “not by me anyways. Not again by me”.

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Livin’ in the 70s … There is nothing not to love about this Fleetwood Mac photo from 1977. Picture: Sam Emerson Source:Supplied

McVie broke the chain in 1998. The singer-songwriter-keyboardist had a crippling fear of flying and a longing for a simpler life not lived out of a suitcase. (True fact: she now has a separate hotel room for her luggage.)

“I just wanted to be settled,” McVie recalls. “I wanted to live in a home and not be a nomad. It’d been, like, 35 or 40 years of that life and I said ‘No, I can’t do this any more’ and I quit.”

McVie, now 71, restored a house in Kent and lived quietly with her dogs, only venturing into music to make her third solo album in 2004 with her nephew Dan Perfect (Perfect is her maiden name).

When Fleetwood Mac would tour the UK (and she didn’t have to get on a plane) McVie would go and see her former band, discreetly, from the sound desk.

“They sounded bloody great,” McVie recalls. “But it was a strange sensation watching them. And they had this empty place where my Hammond (organ) and piano were. They kept that space empty.”

Mick Fleetwood insists that McVie rejoining the band was never discussed.

“When Chris would come see us when we spent all those years without her none of us would ever say anything,” Fleetwood says. “It was just very apparent she was never going to do this again. It was unspoken.”

That came from a personal pact Fleetwood and McVie made when she left the band.

“She was adamant she wouldn’t come back,” Fleetwood says, “but she knows I am always going to be the weasel finding ways to keep the band going. When she left, I remember going to her room. I’d already conceded defeat that she was going, but she maybe didn’t know that. She sat me down and held my hand and just said ‘Don’t ask me’.

“Whether I was going to ask her or not, that moment was something I did honour. I never, ever instigated that conversation again because I promised her in that room that I never would. That’s where we left it until she herself made decisions that made sense in her world to return to Fleetwood Mac. And boy was I happy.”

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The show must go on … McVie says she never intended to return to the band. Picture: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

The decision, McVie remembers, came while bored on her property.

“I was just rotting away, doing nothing” she says. “I thought to myself that the only people I would want to play with again would be Fleetwood Mac. I didn’t want to form another band, I felt that was where I belonged. When I came back they felt it’s where I belonged as well.”

There were baby steps before she shared her decision with the band. McVie first had to deal with being on planes.

“I’ve been to a psychiatrist for the last few years for other various issues, one of which being fear of flying. Now I don’t care about flying, I don’t like the turbulence you get occasionally, but it’s fine.”

Her psychiatrist asked her where she’d want to fly if she could go anywhere. She said Maui, where Mick Fleetwood lives.

This was 2013. Fleetwood was in England promoting a Fleetwood Mac tour. Secretly, McVie went to Dublin where she’d rehearse with Fleetwood Mac for a one-off show at the O2 Arena in September.

Those two shows, where she joined the band for her song Don’t Stop, were book-ended by McVie playing with Fleetwood’s blues band in Maui.

Then things got real.

“Gradually the thought of me coming back into the band became a real possibility,” she says. “Everybody wanted that, including myself. But it was a commitment. Lindsay (Buckingham) said ‘You can’t just say you want to come back, you have to commit’. And I said ‘Yes, I commit. I commit. And I have committed, from now until we drop!”

She borrowed Fleetwood’s dietitian and trainer as the band wrote new material in California, again on the sly.

“Chris is the classic Old English girl who’d say ‘What are you talking about going to a gym!,” Fleetwood jokes. “Now she does yoga and she loves it. We’re older, we’re not ancient but we’re older (Fleetwood is 67, John McVie is 69, Buckingham is 65 and Nicks is 66). This is tough work. We’re on stage three hours a night.”

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Satin dreams … Mick Fleetwood could always rock a cool hat. Nice bottle Christine. Picture: Herbert Worthington Source:Supplied

Fleetwood is legimitately still surprised McVie has returned.

“None of us, including Christine … none of us had any idea two years ago that this would have possibly have ever transpired or happened again. So we are reminded of that every night with the audience. I look across the stage and go ‘Sh–, she really is there!’

“For all of us, musically, selfishly for John (McVie), myself and Chris we consider ourselves very much part of the rhythm section. And she’d be the first to say that’s where she fits, she’s a piano player who plays right in there with Mick and John. It’s so cool to have her touch back. The cream on top of the pudding is having her songs and her lovely voice back. It’s beyond a blessing.”

The surprise of the return isn’t lost on McVie either.

“Nobody thought it would ever happen. If you’d said to me ten years ago I was going to go back to Fleetwood Mac I would have laughed in your face. But it’s happened. It’s a destiny. I just think we are meant to be together. Honestly it’s got a lot to do with Mick and his passion for this band. My really dear friend Mick. What’s not to love about Mick? He’s crazy and beautiful at the same time.”

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Awesome archives … Fleetwood Mac’s pictorial back catalogue is almost as impressive as their musical one. Picture: Sam Emerson Source: Supplied

McVie is also thrilled about spending an extended amount of time with Stevie Nicks again.

“A lot of people think there’s competition between us because we’re women in the same band,” she says.

“There isn’t at all. We are fantastically close. Because we’re so unalike we’re not competitive in the slightest. She is Stevie, the brand, the whole package. I’m what you would describe as a performer and she’s an artist. We differentiate between that, we respect each other for that and we have a terrific laugh together.”

Both band members beam about what they’re witnessing on each night of this tour.

“In the audience there’s something unfolding which is way more powerful than it’s ever been, which has been magnified by the return of Christine,” Fleetwood says.

“The audience itself have their own story to tell. Our funny old music is flicking switches as they’re sitting there. That doesn’t happen when you’re 19 playing to other 19-year-olds. It’s not better, it’s just more powerful, the emotional exchange that’s going on. Truthfully, I can’t imagine that it’s not about as good as it could possibly get for a performer to have that unfold.”

McVie is also glowing with her return to the stage and what it means to people.

“It’s utter joy,” McVie says.

“You look out into the audience and you see so much joy on people’s faces. You make eye contact with people who are almost crying because they can’t believe they’re seeing the Rumours five back again, they can’t believe their eyes. It’s almost like a family reunion on stage, there’s no angst, there’s no animosity, there’s just tremendous amount of friendship.”

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All about the bass … pictured last month, John McVie is fighting fit and back on stage. Picture: AP Photo/Knoxville News Sentinel, Paul Efird Source: AP

Fleetwood Mac stories often tend to focus on the fights, the drugs, the drinking, the relationships, the affairs and the breakups. But the happy ending is that after all of that, they’re friends.

“First and foremost we are a family,” McVie says. “Dysfunctional though we might have been, we’re not now. I believe we’re fairly grounded in our dotage. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company.”

Fleetwood Mac’s proposed summer Australian tour of 2013 was cancelled when John McVie was diagnosed with cancer in October. The band who never stopped took themselves off the road.

“It was a huge deal,” says Fleetwood. “All of us are gagsters, John is the gagster of gagster. But that was one where he had to suck it up. Putting it off and not dealing with illness wasn’t mentionable. He had to get it handled, he did and he’s 100 per cent fit.

“We’re celebrating that quietly, although John doesn’t want to hear about that, he’s too straight ahead. But that’s the most important thing above anything. I know quietly John is no drama queen, he’ll be hugely gratified we are completing the Australian dates and doing it in good spirits — and with Christine.”

McVie says she and her ex-husband remain incredibly close friends, and says his recovery is going brilliantly.

“He was quite edgy about two months ago, he had his first annual check-up and he came out with glowing colours. He’s dancing around like Mickey Mouse at the moment. He’s doing really really well, he looks great and he’s playing unbelievably.”

The band came up with the tour name The Show Must Go On (”it does seem like that’s what we’re doing” says Fleetwood) when in the studio making new music.

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Meet the family … Mick (with nice jacket and side-eye) is torn between two sets of (ex) lovers. Source: Supplied

However none of that new music will be heard on the tour, which is a casual fan’s delight — a wall-to-wall greatest hits set.

“On the next world tour, which I truly believe there will be, there’ll be some new songs people wouldn’t have heard,” Fleetwood says. “This tour is so about a celebration of Chris coming back and songs we haven’t played in what feels like the better part of 20 years.”

It’s a sign of respect for McVie that when she left, unlike some other bands, her classic songs like Songbird, You Make Loving Fun, Little Lies and Everywhere were not performed.

“They did Don’t Stop, but that’s a communal chanting song we all sing anyway, but they couldn’t do any of the others,” McVie says. “So their set changed, for obvious reasons. Now with me coming back you’ve got some of my softer romantic songs coming back in, so it’s a really nice balance. You get the gritty, gnarly Linsday, the hardcore Stevie Gold Dust Woman stuff, we bugger about and have some fun, play our instruments and jam together, it’s fantastic.”

There has been whispers about Fleetwood Mac playing 1977’s Rumours album in full, but Fleetwood notes the first time they tried that it didn’t go down so well.

“I remember we’d just finished Rumours and we thought it was so great we thought the audience would love to hear the whole album. So we played the whole album. And to tell you the truth we died a death. People didn’t know the songs. We changed that set within five days of being on the road.

“You have a lot of great energy by including three or four new songs but you can’t whack people over the head and expect them to not want to hear all the lovely things they’re emotionally connected to. So we pay heed to that, as does any performer who has their head screwed on.”

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The eyes have it … the band’s promo shots sometimes revealed more than the band may have wanted. Source: News Corp Australia

February 2014 saw Fleetwood, McVie and Buckingham record seven songs for what will be the next Fleetwood Mac album, and the first featuring McVie since 1995.

It will be released next year.

“The new stuff is magic,” McVie says. “I came over with really rough demos and it just clicked. Mick on the drums, Lindsay on guitar and me on piano. We’ve done seven songs, they’re just rough vocals and parts have to be replaced and added on to. The fairy dust. Stevie’s got to add her songs, I guess we’ll finish part of it before we come to Australia, then finish it off in February, release it mid year.

“And I’d suggest, and don’t quote me on the particulars, but I’d say it’ll probably be a farewell tour after that. One of us might be dead by then! I joke, of course.”

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Just before her escape … (l-r) Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine and John McVie pictured in 1997. Source: News Corp Australia

A savvy Fleetwood is quick to douse the potential headlines of a Fleetwood Mac farewell tour, but admits all good things will come to an end.

“It’s fair comment,” he says of McVie’s theory.

“Having said that the Stones are always about to never do it again and they do. Or you can take Christine coming back into Fleetwood Mac, that comes under the heading of never say never. The reality is of course there’s a window, you see the other side of the window which is time itself. This is tough work.

“So we might say ‘OK we’re ever going to do that again (heavy touring)’ but that’s not to say we’re never going to make any more music or you’ll do a couple of crazy festivals now and again.

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Without Christine … Fleetwood Mac pictured in 2013. Source: Supplied

“After the next world tour we do, I’d say as far as that level of work it’d be looked at as saying goodbye. That would be fairly likely, I would think. We would want people to know when we next go out if we’re all saying ‘We’re never going to do this again’. Which isn’t to say we’re never going to play again, but we’re never going to do this at this level.

“Maybe we’d do Glastonbury or something once in a while. The Stones work and they still tour but they also do these funny, one-off things where they do something super cool just because they want to. That I think doesn’t need to disappear but touring at this level would be considered more than likely saying goodbye on the next world tour I would think. Fortunately we have a s — load of work to do before we even think about stopping!”

Fleetwood Mac

Allphones Arena October 22, 24, 25 (new show)

Coopers Stadium Adelaide October 28 (new show)

Domain Stadium Perth October 30

Rod Laver Arena Melbourne November 2, 4, 6 (new show)

A Day on the Green, Mt Duneed Estate, Geelong November 7

Brisbane Entertainment Centre November 10, 12 (new show)

A Day on the Green, Hunter Valley, November 14, 15 (new show).

New shows on sale 10am Wednesday April 15. American Express pre-sale on sale midday today until 5pm Saturday, Live Nation presale 10am Monday to 5pm Tuesday. Details livenation.com.au

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Every day is Halloween for Stevie Nicks, pictured in 1986. We salute you lady. Source: News Limited