John Walsh: 'Fleetwood Mac survived 42 years of madness, sex, drugs, failure and success'

Tales of the City

Share
Related Topics

I went to see Fleetwood Mac at Wembley Arena and, musically speaking, it was wonderful. The strains of "If You Go Your Own Way" (which Lindsay Buckingham wrote about Stevie Nicks after their stormy relationship came to an end), the passion that Stevie Nicks put into "Sara" (the song she wrote about her best friend, for whom Mick Fleetwood left his wife after he'd ended his affair with Stevie), the tenderness of "You Make Loving Fun" (which the keyboards player Christine McVie wrote in a tribute to the lighting-rigger for whom she conceived a passion when her husband, the bassist John McVie, hit the bottle), and the final singalong of "Don't Stop" (which Christine wrote after her eight-year marriage packed up,) were inspiring indeed, although my favourite moment was Buckingham's gorgeous solo rendition of "Never Goin' Back Again" (about Stevie's breakdown, after her well-documented cocaine addiction...)

You can try and keep the music separate from Fleetwood Mac's emotional serpentinings, but it wouldn't be so much fun. No beat combo in rock history has had such combustible permutations of personnel, or such terrible luck. They've survived 42 years of madness, drugs, marital bust-ups, sexual rivalry, drink, failure, bankruptcy, wild success, rehab clinics, and a whole gamut of peculiar hairstyle choices. Their heyday was of course 1975, when Fleetwood and the warring McVies signed up Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks and they made Rumours out of their tormented relationships. Many thought it commercial schlock at the time, but the tunes got inside your head and stuck like fishhooks.

So I went to see them at Wembley – and what a weird sight they make these days. Mick Fleetwood, now 62, shiny-pated and white-bearded, whacked the drums like a deranged pirate king, widening his scary eyes until the whites glowed. During an extended solo, he appeared to hold a conversation with the tom-toms. McVie, the inscrutable former tax inspector, wore a white Kangol beret and a black waistcoat. We looked at him and Fleetwood, their grizzled chins and stolid Britishness. "My God," breathed the person beside me, "it's Chas 'n' Dave."

Buckingham, in skinny leather jacket and collarless T-shirt, talked about the band's emotional rollercoaster, struck attitudes and scrubbed his guitar during long solos. It was very much the Lindsey Show. Ms Nicks sang gorgeously in her low contralto and did her twirling-with-a-shawl routine, but sounded emotionally conflicted, like a pissed-off Pollyanna.

They look absurdly different – how did they ever work together? Mick and John, like retired yeoman farmers, relaxing after a hard day's pig-scratching. Lindsey and Stevie, seeming half a generation younger, so Californian, neurotic, theatrical. Buckingham, though an astounding guitarist, seemed prattish and full of himself beside the cool beardies. At the end, he teased the crowd with hints of another album. Mick Fleetwood wasn't bothered about such things. "Look after each other in this crazy world," he told the crowd, with evident emotion, and was rewarded with a mighty cheer – not for being a rock star, for being such an indestructible old (English) buzzard.

***

Spare a thought for the lovelorn Vaibhav Bedi, 26, an unsuccessful young Indian lothario, who is suing the maker of Lynx deodorant spray. In India, the fragrant armpit-freshener is marketed as "Axe", but its TV advertisements lack the tongue-in-cheek quality with which British viewers are familiar. In Lynx ads, dozens of attractive girls routinely fling themselves at hopelessly geeky types, to comic effect. Axe ads, by contrast, tend to feature one foxy chick in a library, tapping her number into a fellow student's mobile and making a "call-me" gesture. Now the regrettably-named Mr Bedi is taking Unilever to court in New Delhi and claiming £26,000 for psychological damage. "The company's [...] advertisements say women will be attracted to you if you use Axe," wailed Mr Bedi. "I used it for seven years but no girl came to me." He should think himself lucky he didn't get attacked by mermaids, or turned into a grotesque Chocolate Man, like the chaps in other Lynx commercials.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Teacher

£22000 - £33000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: ICT TeacherLeedsRandstad ...

Graduate C#.NET Developer (TDD, ASP.NET, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Graduate C#.NET Developer (TDD, ASP.NET, SQL) Su...

Junior SQL DBA (SQL Server 2012, T-SQL, SSIS) London - Finance

£30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior SQL DBA...

C# Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, MVC-4, HTML5) London

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Web Develop...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Ellen E Jones
Scientists have discovered the perfect cheese for pizzas (it's mozzarella)  

Life of pie: Hard cheese for academics

Simmy Richman
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution