Fleetwood Mac, The Point, Dublin

A love affair that never ends
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The Independent Culture

Back in 1989, The Reynolds Girls had a No 8 hit with the Stock, Aitken and Waterman-penned "I'd Rather Jack than Fleetwood Mac". I'd bet money that none of those who bought that single is at The Point tonight. As the Mac take the stage, they are cheered instead by a fortysomething audience for whom 1977's Rumours was the soundtrack to amour gone bad. Imagine the roar of approval, then, when the band open with that album's "The Chain".

It's immediately followed by "Dreams", the drummer Mick Fleetwood and the bassist John McVie effortlessly locking into its simple, hypnotic groove. Though Stevie Nicks no longer attempts the song's gorgeous falsetto notes (blame damage to her septum through cocaine abuse decades back), the lower end of her range now carries extra authority. Thanks to her plastic surgeon and her lacy-black-dress-with-scarves outfit, the 2003 model of Nicks the icon also strikes a neat balance between reconstructed and unreconstructed.

About half-way through the set, there's a two-song acoustic slot, with Nicks and the guitarist Lindsay Buckingham performing "Landslide" and "I'll Say Goodbye to You" as a duo. This is the perfect opportunity for them to tweak the audience's nostalgia for their long-since-finished love-affair. In reality, Buckingham once slapped Nicks and bent her backwards over the bonnet of his car, but tonight they are more Mills & Boon than Bonnie and Clyde.

"I know that somewhere in the past 25 years of your life you have heard this song," says Nicks of "Landslide". At the song's close, Buckingham puts his arm around Nicks and kisses her hair, then the arena's video-screens zoom in on their linked hands. "Are they back together, or what?" wonders a punter behind me. They aren't, of course, but in this, rock's longest-running soap opera, the "will they/won't they?" debate that Nicks and Buckingham astutely propagate is the equivalent of the dangling plotline that closes every episode of EastEnders.

The engine of Fleetwood Mac is, of course, Fleetwood himself. Six foot six inches tall, he drums with maniacal glee, widening his eyes and leering like a madman. It's Nicks, however, that one is inevitably drawn to. During her song about the Welsh witch "Rhiannon", she raises her arms until the folds of her black dress dangle like bat wings, then slowly starts to twirl. It's very Mystic Meg(an), and very Nicks. Vocally, she's at her best on the piano-led ballad "Beautiful Child". Her father is in the audience, and she dedicates the song to him.

But to these ears, the heart and soul of Fleetwood Mac is clearly Buckingham. It's Buckingham who adds the feral energy, Buckingham who sings like a haunted man, and Buckingham who ultimately lifts the Mac high above their chicken-in-a-basket circuit peers. Tonight, he's particularly arresting on "Come", a song he wrote about Anne Heche after she left him for her fellow actress Ellen DeGeneres. "Think of me, darling/ Every time you don't come," Buckingham hisses, before launching into a manic guitar assault. It's thrillingly unhinged, and leaves him looking quite exhausted.

Touring to 10 December (www.fleetwoodmac.com)

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