A little more than halfway through Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie’s sparkling set on Wednesday night at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, Buckingham recounted the process that led him and his Fleetwood Mac bandmate to record their own album (“Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie,” which came out earlier this month). “More often than not,” he said, “it’s hard to regain the moment you once had.” But McVie, who took 15 years off from performing with Fleetwood Mac before returning to the fold in 2014, and Buckingham, who stuck with the band, wound up connecting because of their being on similar paths during their time apart — not “chasing the brand and painting themselves into a corner,” as Buckingham put it, but following their muses. (Or, to borrow a phrase, going their own ways.)
“Our individual journeys brought us back together in a surprising and beautiful way,” he said. The pair and their backing band then launched into “Love Is Here to Stay,” a chiming track from their new album that revels in the way the two vocalists’ timbres brush up against and play off one another — McVie has a lilting alto, while Buckingham’s voice is all angles, with an upper register that adds searing exclamation points to his more impassioned moments.
The opening segment of Wednesday’s show, during which Buckingham and McVie performed without accompaniment, put that push-pull front and center. The duo shifted the tempo of the glittering “Rumours” track “Never Going Back Again” ever so slightly, keeping the animating acoustic guitar line intact while implying hesitancy; “Wish You Were Here” was sighing yet resolute. The pair’s low-lit album, which splits its 10 tracks between Buckingham compositions and songs written by both, explores that tension even further; longing permeates the gently swaying, duo-penned “Feel About You,” while the windswept feel of Buckingham’s crystalline “In My World” echoes its lyrics about missed chances and lost opportunity. The new songs got the full-band treatment, and while at times the sound mix felt a little off, burying the Buckingham/McVie dynamic in overdriven backing vocals and massive drums, the slightly off-kilter pop sensibility of tracks like the shuffling “Sleeping Around the Corner” and the hushed “Lay Down for Free” still stood out.
Fleetwood Mac have been part of pop’s DNA for decades now, with tracks like the charging kiss-off “Go Your Own Way” and the lightly effervescent “You Make Loving Fun” inspiring scores of musicians on multiple levels, from vocal arrangements to guitar technique. Their influence still reverberates at pop’s highest echelons, as evidenced by the country’s current No. 1 album, Lorde’s “Melodrama”; her vocal style owes more to Buckingham’s than some might realize. But the gusto with which Buckingham and McVie approached the night animated both their new material and classic cuts like “Hold Me” and “Little Lies”; the menacing Mac cut “Tusk,” in particular, allowed Buckingham’s guitar heroism and all-in stage presence to shine. Buckingham and McVie are responsible for some of the last half-century’s best-known albums, but Wednesday night showed that neither is content to sit back and let familiarity do the heavy lifting.
Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie
With The Wallflowers
At Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, WednesdayMaura Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.