Christine McVie spreads her wings

Sing no evil, hear no evil.

Sing no evil, hear no evil.

Photo by John Russo

Check out Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie at Ironstone Amphitheatre, 1894 6 Mile Road in Murphys at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 21. Tickets are $55-$300.

“Stevie Nicks is a slut,” my friend pronounced one day with great authority. We were 12 years old and gazing at a black-and-white poster of Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac that hung in her sister’s room. Big hair, big collars. Nicks was showing a lot of cleavage. “Christine McVie’s way cooler.”

Looking at the poster, I thought Christine McVie probably was cooler. With her straight flaxen hair, sensual mouth and air of mystery, she exuded grownup glamor. Her voice added to the enigma: sure and supple, swooping to the sky on songs like “You Make Loving Fun” and “Over My Head.” Hers was the Fleetwood Mac voice I never tired of listening to.

Decades later I’m still in awe of McVie’s style and skills. Her new collaboration with Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham reveals the same soulful lyrics and bouncy lines (Mick Fleetwood and John McVie joined them in the studio) you remember from all the best Fleetwood Mac songs, and McVie’s once-pure alto, if a tad murky here and there, still manages to encapsulate hope, joy and fragility in a single note. When she sings “You are the sky at night, black and white, green and blue,” I found myself thinking, Oh, good! and then, Careful.

That cautionary reflex may be a function of knowing the back story. McVie left Fleetwood Mac in 1998; divorce, plus a pill habit and a chorus of demons, then took turns at her. Happily, McVie came out of retirement in 2014 to rejoin Fleetwood Mac behind the keyboards on the 100-city tour On With The Show. Afterward, she and Buckingham—always a friend, never a lover—started writing together.

The resulting chemistry on Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie, foreshadowed decades ago in numbers like “World Turning” and “Hold Me,” is energetic and upbeat. (See especially “In My World” and “Sleep Around The Corner.”) It also seems to have caught both parties by surprise.

“Lindsay and I are the predominant musicians in the band,” McVie said last week from LA, where she and Buckingham had paused their tour for a few days to meet the rest of Fleetwood Mac onstage for the Classic West concert. “We’re the people who play the chords. And we always work around each other and jam. That’s happened through the years. But we didn’t realize we could make a record together. It’s a real joy.”

“Christine is unusually collaborative—almost egoless, really,” Buckingham has said. Asked about this characterization, McVie set the record straight with a lilt of humor in her voice.

“Well, I don’t think I lack ego, for sure. I could not be in any kind of a rock band if I did. But I’m very flexible. When I come into a song I don’t demand to have it such and such a way. I’m very generous with my songs.”

That works out well for us. And it seems to work for McVie too. “This tour is really to me an epiphany of sorts,” she says. “And I’m just loving every minute of it.”