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Fleetwood Mac: The view from the (not so) cheap seats



(This is the sixth entry in Soundcheck's summer concert series, The 50-50 Club. For previous entries, click here.)

In February, I paid more than $120* for two tickets to Fleetwood Mac at the St. Pete Times Forum, in section 307 – about the same distance from the stage, relatively speaking, as Mount Rainier.

Then, one day after I bought the tickets, I found out Christine McVie, who wrote and sings most of my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs, wasn’t accompanying the band on this tour.

Then the Forum lowered the price of the cheapest tickets to $35.

Then Mick Fleetwood came to my house and personally kicked me in the groin.

Okay, that last part may or may not have happened. Lawyers are still sorting that out. But the rest is 100 percent true. Which meant that going into Wednesday night’s Fleetwood Mac show at the Forum – a venue with all the ambience and charm of a professional hockey arena – I was entirely prepared for a two-hour stay at Camp Thisisgonnasuck.

But then – oh, but then – I was treated to one of the finest gifts one can receive in life: The free ticket upgrade.

When my wife and I reached section 307, the usher took one look at our tickets and said, “Yeah, we’re going to send you downstairs.” We and all the other plebeian schmoes in our section were handed new tickets in section 114, which meant that we were going from Point A, in the diagram below, to Point B:

Seating chart

Why’d they do it? Well, since the Forum had already lowered tickets once, my guess is this concert wasn’t exactly burning up the box office, and the last thing they wanted was for Stevie and Lindsey to look out from the stage and see hundreds of empty seats. So during the show, the bottom of the bowl looked packed – but the entire upper deck was nearly empty.

Anyway, the couples near us goshed and guffawed the whole way to the lower level, thrilled to have received a tiny sliver of the VIP treatment. Personally, I’m not so sure it was much of an upgrade.

It was the lower level, sure, but we were off to one side, which meant we had to tilt our heads to the left all night. Our backs were to a luxury box. Light from the concourse peeked in over our shoulder. Such is life when you attend a concert at a ginormous sporting arena, I suppose.

And people: Arena food? At a rock concert? Really? I get that you might have skipped dinner to get to the concert on time, and sure, it’s convenient that the Forum keeps its snack stands open during shows. But I’m here to tell you that unless you’re at an outdoor barbecue festival, you cannot possibly look cool trying to rock out with a lap full of chicken tenders. Can’t be done.

A guy near us walked by with a box of what smelled like fish sticks, at which point I made a clever joke involving the phrase "Fleetwood Mackerel." We both had a good chuckle over that.

My colleague Sean Daly did a better job than I ever could of reviewing the actual performance. To that, I’ll just add this: Lindsey Buckingham is an absolutely kickass guitarist. During the show, he finger-picked his way through Big Love; displayed unparalleled chops in the art of fretboard wankery; and made eight of the top 10 guitar faces I’ve ever seen.

I’m not as high on Stevie Nicks, but she was the obvious crowd favorite. Let’s just say there were a lot of middle-aged gypsy ladies in the audience, swaying and swirling and wiggling their arms like spongy pool noodles.

I thought Tusk was great. I liked Chains, too. I missed those fun Christine McVie songs, like Little Lies and Everywhere. I didn’t stand up until the encore. Didn’t have to – everyone else around me was sitting down, too.

I‚Äôd compare a show like this to watching a concert film on TV. Everything is totally familiar. You‚Äôve heard all the songs a million times before. You know Stevie‚Äôs going to twirl. You know Lindsey‚Äôs going to preen. You know Mick Fleetwood‚Äôs going to act like Animal from the Muppets**.  All of this stuff happens in real life, just like it happened on MOR Music TV back in 1997.

When we got back to the car, my wife and I started doing Stevie Nicks impressions. All our attempts sounded like this:

Gypsy woman, gold-dust dreams,
Witchy mountain springs.
Black-haired lady, stormy sands,
Swirling silver streams.

Mountain gypsy stormy dreams, witchy golden woman screams.
Mountain gypsy stormy dreams, witchy golden woman screams.
Mountain gypsy stormy dreams, witchy golden woman screams.
Spinning silver lady.

LINDSAY BUCKINGHAM: (makes guitar face)

We were in tears, cracking each other up. For that alone, the $120 we spent on tickets was well worth it.

Next up in The 50-50 Club: Th' Legendary Shack Shakers, April 24 at the Garage Bar, St. Pete.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

* Thanks, Ticketmaster!

** On meth.

[Last modified: Thursday, April 23, 2009 10:00am]


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