Recap: Grand Rapids Pops' tribute to Fleetwood Mac is as authentic as it is entertaining

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk -

Fleetwood Mac still is with us.

One of the top pop/rock acts of the 1970s and 1980s, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in near 20 years ago, the British-American rock group hasn’t faded away.

The group that celebrated its 50th anniversary this summer still tours from time to time. Just this past week, drummer Mick Fleetwood published his third book about the group he co-founded. Its title, “Love that Burns – A Chronicle of Fleetwood Mac: Volume 1,” all but guarantees a second volume will be forthcoming.

But even when the group does retire, its music is unlikely to disappear. Not while tribute bands such as Landslide are around.

Grand Rapids Pops welcomed the Los Angeles-based group to town to open the 2017-18 Fox Motors Pops with a musical salute to one of the best-selling rock bands of all time on Friday, Sept. 22, in DeVos Performance Hall.

The Tribute to the Music of Fleetwood Mac repeats at 8 p.m. Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets, starting at $18 adults, $5 students, still are available.

Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt capably led Landslide and the Grand Rapids Symphony through an evening of 15 of Fleetwood Mac’s greatest hits with all the trappings of a rock concert from lights and sound to an enthusiastic audience. The show was as authentic as it was entertaining.

The only thing wrong was it was over too soon. The audience, which was on its feet by the final numbers of the night, would have happily stayed for a few more numbers.

Kicking off the evening with a hot version of “Go Your Own Way,” Landslide’s six musicians recreated the classic lineup of Fleetwood Mac of the 1970s and 80s with remarkable accuracy. Songs such as “You Make Lovin’ Fun” were fun for everyone.

Singers Jennifer Jo Oberle and Alisha Zalkin faithfully filled in for Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie, teaming up for a powerful one-two punch on rock anthems such as “Edge of Seventeen.”

Oberle’s voice is less gravelly than Nicks, which is a good thing, because it’s easier on the ear. But she sang “Rhiannon” with as much energy as the original by Nicks, and her version of “Landslide” was an emotionally searing performance affecting singer and audience alike.

Zalkin, who has a bit more power in her voice than McVie, was pert and bouncy with “Everywhere,” a little introspective on “Say You Love Me,” and she shared a killer duet with guitarist Dan Kalisher on “Hold Me.”

Steve Fekete, though playing bass, also served as Buckingham’s voice, contributing a smooth version of “Don’t Stop.”

Ensemble songs such as “The Chain” and “Tusk,” with nearly everyone singing, were big crowd pleasers.

Back in the day, Fleetwood Mac rarely recorded with additional instruments. But they did plenty of overlays of themselves, and that’s where the Grand Rapids Symphony came in, supplying the additional guitar licks, multiple keyboards and added percussion that you heard on the original recordings.

Oberle’s carefully constructed orchestrations picked out little snippets of melody and harmony layered inside song. Thanks to the Grand Rapids Symphony providing the additional content, songs such as “Little Lies” sparkled with added value.

The end result was a show that sounded more like the original recordings than even Fleetwood Mac itself could accomplish in a live show. That’s worth hearing anytime.

Posted by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk at 10:00 AM
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