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Hype This

Fleetwood Mac opens the Toyota Center, the Chron hyperventilates, and a city grumbles

Not to say that the Toyota Center wasn't an improvement over the Oasis of Love, for it is much more intimate and plush. Though I was nine rows back on the first tier, watching Fleetwood Mac here felt a little more like seeing them at a club gig than it did an arena show. Something else that fell short of bona fide arena rock status was less encouraging for the Toyota Center: Rumor has it that only about 6,000 people paid to attend and that tickets were being given away to all who asked before the show. Generosity also reigned elsewhere -- one of the ladies working the bar in the outdoor smoking area told me an anonymous gentleman had plunked down three C-notes and told her to start handing out free booze to all the nicotine addicts in the caged ciggy-pen.

Back inside, it was easy to spot the paying customers. Those would be the aging male classic rockers, and a huge contingent of female Stevie Nicks fanatics. There were more shawls on display here than anywhere else on earth, outside of a large gathering of the Gypsy tribes, as Stevie's bizarro Celtic-Romany-Wicca posse came out in full effect. Mothers and their daughters -- some of the few under-forties in attendance and likely all named Rhiannon or Sara -- shared their Nicks fix together, most prominently right in front of the stage, where an ethereal coven of witch-eh women swayed away the evening in communion with their high priestess, no doubt wishing they had a wind machine and plenty of confetti for added drama.

Drama is something Fleetwood Mac sans Christine McVie has a little too much of. Both Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham come across as fairly humorless and theatrical. Ms. McVie was the grounded, down-to-earth heart of the band, and her sensible and heartfelt pop tunes like "Over My Head," "Don't Stop," "You Make Lovin' Fun" and "Say You Love Me" were the soul of the band's most successful incarnation. On their 1988 greatest hits compilation, McVie wrote more than half the songs. But are there eccentric women inserting her mug into commissioned portraits, like this one (www.johannas-art.com/Portraits.htm) in Scotland? No! Why McVie is considered less a star than Nicks or Buckingham and why her solo career has never taken off are mysteries to me, as is the fact that anyone could consider a Christine-less lineup the real Fleetwood Mac.

Buckingham, who now looks like rock and roll's John McEnroe, is the bombast-meister who brought us the cocaine octane of "Tusk," while everything about Nicks, from the gravel of her voice to her supernatural vibe, has always been a you-love-her-or-you-hate-her deal.

So whether it was Nicks rasping out "Rhiannon" or "Dreams," or Buckingham belting "Big Love" and "I'm So Afraid," or the two of them leather-and-lacing along on "Landslide," wherein their Tender Moments Together After All This Time put some concertgoers in mind of A Mighty Wind, without McVie the picture of Fleetwood Mac was imperfect.

As was the one the Chronicle told about the Toyota Center.

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