Fleetwood Mac’s Tour Without Lindsey Buckingham: Our Writers Answer Six Important Questions
Fleetwood Mac have decided to tour without Lindsey Buckingham for the first time since the group's mid-'90s reunion. In his place, they've hired Mike Campbell from Tom Petty's Heartbreakers and Neil Finn of Crowded House. While lineup changes are nothing new to the famously tumultuous band, this time it seems different. So we've asked our writers to provide their thoughts on the band's decision to move forward and what the new members can bring to the table.
Should Fleetwood Mac have waited for Lindsey Buckingham, who supposedly didn't want to tour now, or are they right to go on without him?
Michael Gallucci: They've moved on from other members leaving many times in the past, so it's not that much of a surprise. But Buckingham has always been the band's biggest creative force, so I'm not sure how they'll manage onstage without him or his great songs -- it will probably be pretty close to a Stevie Nicks solo show with a few Christine McVie songs thrown in among a couple of older pre-Buckingham band classics.
Nick DeRiso: In 2012, back before Christine McVie’s return, Lindsey Buckingham was ready to tour again with Fleetwood Mac, but they waited for Stevie Nicks – who didn’t finally get back on the road with the band until 2013. Following McVie’s return a year later, Buckingham was ready to record, and again they waited for Nicks. By the following year, he and McVie had begun recording without her. This went on so long that they completed an entire album, featuring all of the members of Fleetwood Mac – except Nicks, who did another solo tour in 2015. Then, Buckingham and McVie, waiting into 2017, mounted their own separate tour. All of this happened while they waited for Stevie Nicks. Finally, Nicks returned, but by this point Buckingham – understandably, right? – was ready to do something on his own. So they reportedly fired him. Makes perfect sense.
Dave Lifton: I never say musicians shouldn't go out and make music; it's both in their DNA and their job. So I don't begrudge them their right to determine who is and who isn't considered part of Fleetwood Mac. But I also can't begrudge any fans who'll choose to avoid the tour because Buckingham isn't part of it. Still, when reading the statement the band put out, I envisioned Mick Fleetwood as David St. Hubbins in This Is Spinal Tap in the scene where he compares Nigel to Ronnie Pudding and Ross McLochness. It just read like Buckingham meant nothing to the band.
Annie Zaleski: I think they're right to go on without him, especially in light of the news he allegedly wanted to delay the world tour until late 2019. Although he's perfectly within his rights to do solo stuff, it's not fair to hold up four other people who want to tour -- especially since, as Stevie Nicks noted, she wants to live life to its fullest since Tom Petty died.
Dave Swanson: There seems to be more to the story than just Lindsey Buckingham not wanting to tour at the moment. I would have to think there is more to this or that this has been an issue with him time and again. It seems somewhat flippant to just bag him because he said no to a tour. Who knows what goes on with these people behind their gold-plated doors? As for going on without him, sure, why not? I am a huge Buckingham fan, but if they want to do something different, so be it. Nothing has stopped them in the past, so why would this be any different? Plus, this gives Buckingham more time for his solo work!
Ryan Reed: It's hard to choose sides without knowing the full extent of their back-and-forth, but I have to give two answers here. From the practical touring band standpoint, they're right to continue -- plus, Fleetwood Mac have shifted their lineup so many times over the years, we almost should have seen this coming. On a creative level, they're nuts. Buckingham's songwriting is the entire apex of Fleetwood Mac, and nobody can replace him. It's like Yes moving forward without Jon Anderson -- it's still worth watching, but it's not the same band.
Matthew WIlkening: Definitely. They've all worked too hard to be in an unhappy situation, especially since they are obviously nearer to the end of their careers than the beginning. If they're all doing (or not doing) what feels right to them personally without hurting anybody, that's great. Plus, we've already seen several classic lineup Fleetwood Mac reunion tours -- everybody reading this could have probably predicted 90 percent of the set list and heard exactly how it would all sound in their heads. This new lineup may not be better than that, but it will be different, and that's worth a lot at this stage in the game.
Who would be your dream one-person replacement for Lindsey Buckingham?
Gallucci: Honestly, I think the band should just call it quits at this point. I was fine with the reunion tours by the classic lineup. This just seems pointless.
DeRiso: Clearly, even the lone remaining co-founding members of the band think it can’t be done, since this is the second time they’ve asked two guys to sub for Buckingham. He’s a wild hair, in more ways that one – and that apparently makes Lindsey Buckingham impossible to recast.
Lifton: Nobody. His guitar-playing is far too idiosyncratic for any one person to replicate. I think they made a good call with Mike Campbell because he's so versatile, and he has a proven chemistry with Stevie Nicks. Neil Finn seemed like an odd choice at first, but now I think it's very smart. Since they most likely won't be doing any of Buckingham's songs, Finn will be used mostly for harmonies, and he'll be able to blend in nicely with them.
Swanson: I was going to say Robyn Hitchcock, just so the man could make some real money, but you know who actually could have been a good choice? Peter Frampton. Not only would that have brought another '70s icon into the fold, but the man can play guitar. His voice is intact, and it could have pumped the Mac full of some fire. Then again, why would Frampton want to play second fiddle to Nicks at this point? I think the choice they made is a good one on all fronts.
Reed: This is almost impossible, because Buckingham is such a singular singer and guitarist. Do you pick a soundalike or go for originality with a left-field pick? I'm more inclined to pursue the latter route, which brings me to my slightly offbeat selection: Todd Rundgren. He's one of the most versatile songwriters in rock history, veering from art-pop experimentation to slick soft-rock to full-blown prog, and he's a capable multi-instrumentalist with an ear for arrangements. He'd probably enjoy retooling the deep cuts from Tusk and Mirage -- can you imagine his rendition of "Walk a Thin Line"?
Wilkening: "Please welcome the Red Rocker, Sammy Haaaaaaggggaaarrrr!" -- just so I can tie certain co-workers to a chair at the concert and watch their heads explode. Since he's been on our minds so much lately, it should be said that Stevie Nicks' one-time songwriting partner Prince would have been absolutely dazzling in this role. As for more realistic options? David Byrne would be pretty interesting. Like Buckingham, he can make paranoia and nervous energy sound appealing as hell.
Should they play "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" on tour?
Gallucci: I'm guessing they'll probably play it, just because Stevie Nicks and Mike Campbell both had a hand in it, and there's still some grieving over Tom Petty's death. So it makes sense to play it, but I'm not so sure they should. Where do you stop if you start allowing solo songs to seep into a Fleetwood Mac set list?
DeRiso: That would represent an obvious play for emotion from their fans. Which is why I think they shouldn’t. But it’s also why I believe they probably will.
Lifton: Would Neil Finn sing Tom Petty's part? As I'm writing this, I'm listening to Everyone Is Here, the 2004 album Neil Finn did with his brother Tim, and trying to imagine his voice in there. Yeah, he can hit those notes without breaking a sweat, but he's completely wrong for that song. I can maybe see them trying it at rehearsals but not making the final cut.
Zaleski: They will and should. It will be a nice tribute to Petty and give Mike Campbell and Stevie Nicks a chance to shine -- a centerpiece song, like she and Buckingham used to do live.
Swanson: I would guess they will do it and they should. Why not? It ties to both Stevie Nicks and Mike Campbell, and it falls in line with their desire to mix in things they haven't played before.
Reed: It feels inevitable they'll maximize the hits at-hand -- it's a way to make the best of the situation, like, "Hey, here's another toe-tapper to distract you from Lindsey Buckingham not being up here!" I don't think they should, though. This is Fleetwood Mac, so play Fleetwood Mac songs, please.
Wilkening: Absolutely, it would be a very logical tribute, and the crowd would go crazy for it. Plus, they've made a big shakeup to the lineup, it only makes sense to carry that spirit over into the set list.
On a similar note, should they play Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over"?
Gallucci: No way. This song isn't even remotely connected to the Fleetwood Mac universe. I'll allow "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" for the reasons I outlined above, but that's it.
DeRiso: Start playing Crowded House, and this will take on the feel of a jukebox show. Fleetwood Mac have plenty of their own music to reach back for.
Lifton: It's almost an insult to Neil Finn to do that: "Okay, Neil, now we're gonna let you do your biggest hit while our crowd goes to the bathroom." But the idea of Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie singing backup on that is almost tantalizing.
Zaleski: They might, but I feel like they shouldn't. Eagles concerts bring in solo material that fits the rest of the band's catalog, but this song is very different from Fleetwood Mac material, and I think would feel out of place.
Swanson: Absolutely! That's a perfect song for this lineup to tackle and would actually fit them very well. I bet they put this one into the set. For that matter, why not a take on his Split Enz classic "I Got You"?
Reed: This one feels a bit too left-field, but it wouldn't shock me. After all, during Dave Mason's brief tenure in the band, Fleetwood Mac used to play Traffic's "Dear Mr. Fantasy" onstage. Again, it feels a bit cheap, so I'd vote against it. If you're gonna shake things up, take it as an excuse to dig deeper into Mac history and dust off some rarely played Bob Welch-era material.
Wilkening: Another big yes, for different reasons. It would be a good way to show exactly what Finn is bringing to the table. Plus, presumably a large chunk of each concert will be dedicated to songs written by somebody who is not there anymore, so why not show off one that the "new guy" wrote?
On a scale of 1-10, how interested would you be in an album from this lineup? Would you be more or less interested in new studio work from this lineup?
Gallucci: My interest is barely a 1 here. Fleetwood Mac tried to move on without Buckingham on record before, and those are some of their most boring albums. Even then, with Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie still somewhat near their peak songwriting years, their work on those Buckingham-free albums was mostly forgettable. Can't imagine there's anything interesting left to say at this point.
DeRiso: It’s a somewhat intriguing prospect, if only because the typically love-struck and rather circumspect Neil Finn seems to be the polar opposite of Lindsey Buckingham, who so often is all edge -- a trembling, barely controlled nerve bundle. Still, anybody who endured 1995’s Time knows just how off track Fleetwood Mac can get without Buckingham’s guiding hand.
Lifton: Maybe a 3 or 4. I'm sure I'd check it out and would find things to like, but Fleetwood Mac's best work has been the result of Buckingham's studio wizardry and/or the band's internal dysfunction. So why would I want to hear them when they're all getting along in his absence?
Zaleski: 8. I'm curious how all their musical experiences translate in the studio. I'm actually more interested in new studio work, due to Neil Finn's songwriting reputation and strengths. I'd like to see how his sensibilities mesh with the rest of Fleetwood Mac.
Swanson: 10 for sure. I think an album of new material from this lineup could prove to be something very cool. Finn is a great writer on his own and Campbell would add much to the proceedings. I am curious to hear how Finn's voice mixes with Nicks' and McVie's. With nothing but total love and respect for Buckingham, this actually could prove to be just what Fleetwood Mac needed to move forward.
Reed: I'd have to go with an 8. Buckingham or not, you still have two great songwriters and one of rock's smoothest rhythm sections. Plus, I'd love to hear Campbell and Finn attempt to integrate their songs and styles into the existing Mac mold. I enjoy the post-Buckingham LP Behind the Mask more than most Mac fans, so I think they could pull it off, but it'll obviously be tough. More than anything, though, it's just sad: The classic Buckingham-Nicks-McVie lineup hasn't recorded a full studio album together in more than three decades.
Wilkening: On the curiosity factor alone, an 8. I'd be way more interested in hearing this than another "classic" lineup album. Which, again, doesn't mean it would be better than what that version of the group could do right now -- just less predictable. But it's probably better if they tour and get to know each other for a while first and then write together -- which is what, among others, Them Crooked Vultures should have done.
Which non-Buckingham era song would you most like them to play?
Gallucci: Any of the early Peter Green-era classics -- "Oh Well," "Black Magic Woman" or even "Albatross" -- should be able to withstand whatever this new lineup throws at them.
DeRiso: “Hypnotized” from 1973. First off, Finn would have no trouble inhabiting Bob Welch’s whispery sense of detachment here. More than that, this song connects some important dots. Much has been made, and justifiably so, of the arrival of Buckingham and Nicks — but “Hypnotized” illustrates how far Fleetwood Mac had come toward their polyester-era California singer-songwriter style long before that duo joined.
Lifton: Campbell is so great at minor-key blues, so I gotta go with "Black Magic Woman." And having it segue into "Rhiannon" would be somewhat sublime, no?
Zaleski: "Homeward Bound," from Bare Trees. I think the grooves and vibe would fit well with the configuration of musicians onstage.
Swanson: My first thoughts are "Bare Trees" by Danny Kirwan or "Future Games" by Bob Welch. "Bare Trees," because it's a pop gem ripe for rediscovery and I can absolutely hear Finn singing that one. "Future Games" because it's a haunting, almost Crazy Horse-like jammer that Mike Campbell could sink his teeth into. Let Finn and McVie duet on that one.
Reed: You know they'll have to play some Peter Green-era stuff, so I'd love to hear them attempt "The Green Manalishi." But they've ignored the Welch period for far too long, so let's hear a revamped version of "Sentimental Lady" for old time's sake.
Wilkening: This is a boring answer, but "Oh Well" -- especially because Campbell played it with Petty. And, of course, "There's Only One Way to Rock" as a reminder of what could have been.