Fleetwood Mac – a passion (almost obsession)

The weather has made a turn for the worse here in the UK. After summer-like temperatures just last week, we now have gales, rain or sleet, and temperatures hovering around 4°C; some parts of the country are covered in snow. So I’m sitting here enjoying the wonderful music of Fleetwood Mac.

Before I moved to the Philippines to join IRRI in 1991, I bought a new hi-fi system including, for the first time, a CD player. The first CD I purchased was Fleetwood Mac: Greatest Hits. I’m not sure now why I decided to buy this. I was, of course, familiar with the name, but actually had no real knowledge of their music. I knew the track Albatross, but had never followed their career as I had other bands. And I’d never heard of Peter Green.

Greatest Hits was a revelation, and I became an instant fan. In fact I developed a passion (some would say an obsession) for their music, and acquired several of their CDs. I was living in Costa Rica when their seminal Rumours album was released in 1977 – one of the highest selling albums ever – and I was totally unaware of it at that time. I’ve caught up since!

I guess it was the release of the reunion concert The Dance on CD and DVD in 1997 that cemented my attachment to their music. Just watch the virtuosity of Lindsey Buckingham on Go Your Own Way.

In June 2003, on our way home to the UK from the Philippines for our annual leave, my wife and I visited old friends from CIP Jim and Jeanne Bryan in Seattle, as they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Then we travelled on to St Paul to stay with our daughter Hannah and husband Michael. And they had a very big surprise for me. Michael had been able to get three tickets for Fleetwood Mac’s Say You Will tour concert on the 19th, and held at the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St Paul. Joining more than 18,000 fans we were treated to a fantastic concert, the only disappointment being the absence of Christine McVie who had left the band and retired to the UK.

I’d never been to a rock concert before so didn’t know quite what to expect. As an undergraduate at Southampton University in the late 1960s I’d attended some small live concerts, but nothing on the scale of this Say You Will one. We had seats in Section 102 of the arena, just left of the stage and had a great view.

The concert began with The Chain – the thump, thump, thump of drums and bass. And as the music built up, I marvelled at being able not only hear the music, but also feel it! My viscera were dancing to the beat as well. But the thing that I most remember were the tears streaming down my cheeks – I just couldn’t hold back the emotion of the occasion. The music just took me over. Well, I recovered by the second or third song, and by then everyone was grooving. And I don’t think we sat down again for almost two hours.

And there’s one interesting snippet – an IRRI connection. Christine McVie’s brother, John Perfect, an entomologist, and his wife Anthea spent some time at IRRI in the late 1980s; I met them there some time in 1991 on one of their visits.

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