Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Age is just a number, so don't count love out

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On Sunday night, my wife finally delivered the 65th birthday present I'd been waiting three months for.

As it turned out, it came with a big bonus for a bow.

The present was a couple of choice fourth-row-centre tickets to the Fleetwood Mac concert at the MTS Centre.

One for Athina and one for me

The bonus was what the band's performance -- and their collective lives -- said about them and, by extension, about the thousands of baby boomers in the adoring audience.

I'm not sure if those in the back of the house could see the silhouettes of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham entering the dimly lit stage.

Her limping, him holding her hand, as if guiding the ever-mystical diva through the dark, lest she fall.

Two former young lovers, she about to turn 65 on May 26, he still only 63.

I don't know why Stevie was limping, other than some unsourced answer I read while searching online. What I do know, judging by past concert reviews, is that it's been happening for years. In a way, Stevie was showing her older fans, and perhaps her young ones, too, what aging can do to the body.

If not the soul.

Behind Nicks and Buckingham were the two older namesakes of the band, the unassuming John McVie, 67, on bass guitar, and that towering extrovert, the soon-to-be-66 Mick Fleetwood, the big drummer boy with the Marty Feldman eyes and Hulk Hogan presence.

Behind all of them are all the years. The affairs between band members -- most notably Stevie with the married Mick -- and the breakups and ballads that alluded to it all.

Of course, Fleetwood Mac are far from the only old-time rock 'n' rollers still doing one-night stands in arenas and stadiums all over the globe.

But for me, there was something hopeful about watching Buckingham's almost two-and-a-half hours of virtually uninterrupted energy and closeness with the crowd. Particularly with the group of 20-something women who briefly chatted him up during the show and danced non-stop within his reach, all the while seemingly oblivious to the societal standard that the young aren't supposed to respect their elders. That was part of the ageless magic and the bonus birthday gift.

There was something else magical that gave the night a depth that went beyond the lyrics. It was the apparent forgiveness that can come from time and age. And how these former lovers appeared to still love each other, but in a different, perhaps deeper way.

As Stevie said in a Rolling Stone Q & A last December after she hung out for a few days with Buckingham prior to the tour starting:

"It was great spending time with Linds. We're old enough now that we've laid down our weapons. We started this whole thing in 1968 and we're proud of what we've done. We look at each other in a slightly different light now. It's a good light."

But then the interviewer, sounding like me, posed this question to Stevie:

"I could be wrong, but I'm sort of sensing that lots of the drama from the band's past is gone. Things seem pretty functional right now."

"Well, don't seriously fall for that," she answered. "We're a dramatic bunch, but a lot of the anger is at least tempered now.

"There was a lot of anger and resentment and crazy things that went on for a long time. It's always going to show up here and there, but we're not focusing on it right now. We're going to try and never focus on it again. But that does not mean we aren't full of drama."

OK, so I'm a romantic.

Still, Buckingham has said he wrote his latest song, Sad Angel, in part as a way of reaching out to Stevie.

What I saw on stage was an act the band does over and over and over again.

I get that.

But what I felt was the warmth that's still there despite the history.

Monday's headline on Randall King's Free Press concert review -- "Landslide of love for Fleetwood Mac" -- got it right. But, again, it wasn't just the music and the big-screen theatrics that the crowd loved. It was the band members, who they appeared to be, and the limps, both physical and mental, they have overcome.

Much like the rest of us.

In the process, they continue to write new songs and defy what society says is the normal shelf life of youthfulness.

And usefulness.

Hey, Mac, there's gotta be another song in there somewhere.

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 14, 2013 B1

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