I Have No Fear... I Have Only Love: Fleetwood Mac in Kansas City, August 2003

I sent this review to Enchanted, the Stevie Nicks mailing list, the morning after I saw the concert.

Seeing Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac perform live is important to me for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest ones is that the experience reminds me who I want to be. This isn't because any of them are my role models -- heaven knows they've made a lot of choices I wouldn't, and they hold some beliefs that don't really align with mine. But something about the words and the music together centers me, puts me in the place where I feel the most true, the most myself.

I found it tonight in the waterfall of notes that make up Lindsey's solos on I'm So Afraid. I closed my eyes and let the music cascade over me, giving up all the fear that's in my life today, all the pain and worry, and just dropping it into that rushing river. When I did that, those words from Gypsy came into my head: "I have no fear... I have only love." That's who I want to be.

I always loved the way that line was sung, but I was never completely comfortable with it. It always felt a little like a grandiose boast. I mean, who has no fear? Who has only love? Tonight, somehow, I understood it in a different way. I understood it, I guess, in the subjunctive -- it's not a state that exists, but rather something to reach for. That's why it's followed up with more subjunctive (albeit grammatically incorrect :) lines: "And if I was a child... and the child was enough... enough for me to love... enough to love." That verse of Gypsy, and in a different sense the entire song, gets at something that is deep, deep in the center of me, and of many people I know. We all face our freedom with a little bit of fear; we all have a kid inside who needs our love, and who wants to be enough for us to love. To give love, instead of fear, to ourselves and to the people in our lives... that's the only path to real freedom, to real "enoughness"... to real happiness.

It's so clear at a Nicks or Mac concert -- there are those people I think of as the "walking wounded." You know who I mean -- it's those people you can spot from a mile away, who have a trembling void inside them that they're hoping Fleetwood Mac can fill. They just know that if they can get close enough, make some connection with one of the band (usually Stevie or Lindsey... especially Stevie), that they'll find their enoughness in that. They're the people who spend half the concert arguing with security, trying to get to the foot of the stage, and the other half waving their signs, or their arms, or trying to make "significant" eye contact with somebody on that stage. But that's not the kind of love that does it. That's not letting the child be enough for you to love -- it's turning to a thing, the same way some people think that having a lot of money or a kickass car or (fill in the material object here) will really make it for them. Worse, it's turning Fleetwood Mac into just another thing, when really what they are is people, people who are offering loads of positive energy, and their own kind of generalized love, but not love. Nobody, not even the closest person to you, can fill that void, and certainly not some group of famous strangers, no matter how much their music speaks to you. It only comes from loving that child, letting that child be enough for you to love. It only comes from reaching for love, real love, and giving that real love to yourself, pushing out the fear.

I guess this is sort of a funny concert review, isn't it? :) It's just that seeing them is such a soul-elevating experience for me -- it's like I'm lifted up for a little while, and can see and understand so much clearly the bigger picture of what's going on, stuff that's hard to grasp when I'm just down in it, which is most of the time.

Back down to earth: I got to Kemper at about 7:00 or so, and had plenty of time to scope out the scene. There were no tourbooks, so I contented myself with one of the black shirts that has the sepia photos. Then down to my seat, which I was just thrilled with -- second row, Stevie's side. A little further to stage right than is ideal, but still damn good. The only problem with that side, at a Mac show, is that when she turns to face Lindsey (which is, of course, a lot), her back is to you, so you lose her facial expressions. Nevertheless, an excellent spot.

Most of the people around me had also traveled to see the show, which was fun. In fact, the woman who was to my right apparently runs Lindsey's official website! Wow! To my left was somebody from Nebraska who had gone to see them in Chicago (twice!) and will be seeing them in Omaha on the 2nd leg. It was lots of fun talking with her, especially when she compared notes for me about which little moves in the show were rehearsed and which ones were spontaneous. I've been studiously avoiding most reviews and most everything on Enchanted that dealt with specific details of the shows, hoping to preserve a few surprises for myself and to enter with as few preconceptions as possible. As I'd suspected (because this is par for them), most everything is quite rehearsed, but still feels genuine enough when you're watching it. There was an utterly gorgeous cape that Stevie wore to sing Gypsy, and apparently she didn't wear it in Chicago.

No surprises in the set list, of course, but everything was just lovely. Beautiful Child brought a big lump to my throat -- it's just so amazing to hear things sung live that I've never heard that way before, and never expected to hear. I felt very emotional during Gypsy, too, for the reasons I described above, and because I just generally love that song so much. Goodbye Baby was a magical closer -- I'm so glad she chose to sing it. I'm sad, though, that she dropped Running Through The Garden and Destiny Rules from the setlist -- without them, the set felt a bit lopsided, with four new songs from Lindsey and only two from Stevie. I wish she felt more comfortable putting those new things out there for the people who do appreciate and adore them.

Oh well, it's not like they didn't sing enough songs. Two and a half hours is a pretty amazing show for anybody, and especially so for a band of fiftysomethings who certainly have nothing to prove to anybody. Stand Back was great, lots of great twirling -- hell, all of Stevie's songs were great, and all of Lindsey's were too, though I appreciate his stuff in a little bit different way... more like watching really cool fireworks than like looking at a really great painting. Those moments in I'm So Afraid were utterly transcendent, though.

One thing that surprised me a little was that most of the crowd was quite sedate, with even the first five rows sitting for large swaths of the show. Boy, not me, though -- I was up and dancing, letting the music go through me, for the whole show, and happily a few people near me stood too. I didn't get hassled by anybody, and in fact before the encore somebody in the third row leaned over to me and said "You rock!" That really made me happy -- I had so much joy tonight, it was great to feel like that was coming out of me and into the room.

I left that arena spinning, dancing, singing... with an elevated soul, and with no fear... with only love.

Kansas City

I Have No Fear... I Have Only Love: Fleetwood Mac in Kansas City, August 2003 / Paul O'Brian / obrian at colorado.edu / Revised September 2003
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