“We decided to do this song through the eyes of a woman, because this is the ‘year of the woman,’ ” said Stevie Nicks before Fleetwood Mac played “Black Magic Woman” during the exultant farewell show by the classic rock icons at the Times Union Center on Wednesday night.
The slinky Latin-tinged number was popularized by Santana but actually written by British musician Peter Green, who founded Fleetwood Mac as a blues-rock outfit in 1967.
Lead singer Stevie Nicks didn’t join until 1974, but once she did, she brought the ethos of the ‘year of the woman’ with the force of her own personality and distinctive throaty voice wrapped in long flowing tunics and mystic stage presence.
Of course, Nicks joined the band at the same time as her then-boyfriend and musical partner Lindsey Buckingham. In 2018, Fleetwood Mac announced they had dismissed Buckingham due to personal differences before embarking on this tour, replacing the guitarist (who later sued) with Mike Campbell from the Heartbreakers and Neil Finn of Crowded House and Split Enz.
They may have been on their 52nd show of the tour, a fact that Nicks mentioned several times, but from the opener “The Chain,” the group brought a straightforward stage show that was less about flashy effects than it was about the music. Oh, and the hits — there were so many.
Replacing Buckingham — who recently had open heart surgery — with not one but two guitarists might seem like overkill. But once you saw Finn and Campbell in action on stage, you realized that each had a distinct purpose and brought their own major contributions to the band.
Campbell — still grieving the loss of his friend and former band leader Tom Petty over a year ago — brought his inimitable guitar solos and style to songs like “Little Lies,” “Second Hand News” and “Go Your Own Way.” He also took the vocal lead on “Oh Well,” an epic blues-rock classic from the Peter Green days.
For all of Campbell’s quiet purpose, Finn served more as a sensitive counterpart to Nicks, adding acoustic guitar and lovely backup and lead vocals to numbers like “Dreams” while taking the spotlight to sing his own tune on the indelible Crowded House ballad “Don’t Dream It’s Over.”
Fleetwood Mac’s early members had their moments to shine too. Unassuming keyboardist Christine McVie led on some of her finest tunes: “Don’t Stop,” “You Make Loving Fun” and “Say You Love Me.”
Drummer Mick Fleetwood, the band’s other fashion icon — dressed in red shoes and black knickers and vest – took an extended trippy madman drum solo on “World Turning,” repeatedly yelling “unleash the hounds.” (The magical percussion of Taku Hirano, who lends his talents to a number of modern bands, added the sparkling fairy tale notes to shimmering songs like “Everywhere.”)
And Nicks, dressed in her trademark long flowing black dress and fingerless black gloves, was sublime and spinning on massive hits like “Rhiannon,” “Gypsy,” “Landslide” and set highlight “Gold Dust Woman,” marked by her minutes-long, twirling breakdown.
An encore of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” accompanied by video clips of the departed musician, was a heartbreaker. After bringing things back up with the buoyant “Don’t Stop,” Nicks and McVie closed with a duet on “All Over Again,” perhaps the only non-hit of the night.