An enduring joke from suburban life in late 20th century North America is that every new house sold in 1980s came with a complimentary copy of Fleetwood Mac’s magnum opus, Rumors. The album’s apparent omnipotence certainly comes, in part, from being the seventh best-selling album of all time, but there’s more to it than that.
“I have known and loved the Rumors album since I discovered it as a young child in my parents’ record collection,” says Classic Albums Live band member Julie Mahendran, “so it was a great pleasure when I was first asked to recreate Christine McVie’s vocals and keyboards.”
Classic Albums Live brings Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors to the stage at the Rose Theatre March 23.
For those who may not have caught a Classic Albums Live show, it is exactly what it sounds like. A group of all-star musicians that travel around performing some of the best rock n’ roll music ever recorded, note for note, cut for cut, live on stage.
“It’s always important for the audience to understand that it’s not a tribute band show,” explains Rob Phillips, Classic Albums Live music director and guitarist on this tour. “We’re not wearing costumes and not trying to pass ourselves off as re-creating a live experience. It’s really the experience of putting on headphones, putting on an album and letting your mind go along on this journey with music for 45 minutes.”
The show is a chance to revive the ritual of listening to an album while also making it a new social experience. Craig Martin, Classic Albums Live creator, calls it the modern symphony. It’s also the 21st century version of a basement album listening party. With Rumors, one can expect quite a party. Not the kind where everyone dances all night; more like a dinner party where the guests admit to life altering revelations that leave no one unscathed.
The album is a brutally honest, tumultuous musical history of the romantic entanglements of the members of Fleetwood Mac, a quintet made of two couples and a drummer. Both of these couples were in the process of splitting up during the creation of the record, which was further complicated by the drummer simultaneously beginning an affair with the lead singer.
Rumors is one of those rare pieces of art that matches up thematically with a cultural phenomenon. When the album hit the shelves in 1977, middle class suburbia was experiencing a wave of divorce and exposing infidelity for the first time. It is more than a minor miracle that the work was ever finished. The result however, was a collection of powerful songs that millions of families identified with on a visceral level about issues that had never really been sung about before.
Songs like Dreams, Don’t Stop, Go Your Own Way, Gold Dust Woman and The Chain spoke to husbands and wives in a way that popular music had only spoken to teenagers to the point; straight to the gut. Sales of 45 million copies later, it would seem that those themes still ring true.
As always, Classic Albums Live presents their featured album, uninterrupted, for the first half of the show. After an intermission, the audience can expect a collection of greatest hits from the catalogue of Fleetwood Mac and its individual members.
“I love a good melody and they don’t come much better than these,” says Mahendran. “It’s a special thing for me to recreate this classic music for audiences who love it just as much as we do.”
Classic Albums Live presents Fleetwood Mac: Rumors at the Rose Theatre, March 23 at 8pm. Tickets are available by calling 905-874-2800 or online at www.rosetheatre.ca.