In 1975, there was a new Fleetwood Mac in town. There had been a number of previous Fleetwood Mac’s – including one that wasn’t actually Fleetwood Mac but rather a number of replacements sent out by management to tour using the established band name – but the 1975 version of the Mac was the real deal, with stalwarts Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Christine McVie joined by fresh-faced new singers Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.
During their first rounds of concerts, while the band was promoting their first album with the new line-up, the setlist required some older material to flesh out their performances, especially since the group had been a decade-long proposition with a full history that audiences might already be familiar with. In that spirit, this new version of Fleetwood Mac decides to bust out a classic from their previous incarnation: the Bob Welch song ‘Hypnotized’.
The comments on this particular YouTube video are hilarious: people claiming that this version is inferior to the studio version (fair point), people claiming that the band is wrong to even play the song without Bob Welch (less fair, considering it’s still a Fleetwood Mac song), people defending Buckingham for attempting the song, people making jokes about people getting mad about the band trying to play the song, and on and on in an endless golden spiral of argument and meta-references. Ah, YouTube commenters, never change.
So to set a few things straight: yes, the version is inferior to the original. Buckingham brings polished professionalism and enthusiasm to the performance, but replicating Welch’s unique bray is a difficult task. Welch was never the greatest singer in the world, and probably doesn’t quite match Buckingham in either the vocal or six string departments, but he was a talented songwriter who tailor-made his compositions to his own best attributes, attributes that don’t always cross over with Buckingham’s best skills.
Mick Fleetwood‘s signature drum part is intact, and the newly stylised harmonies of Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie take the haunting qualities of the original and make them mainstream-friendly in the best possible way. The crowd seems into it, and Buckingham’s guitar solo is spacey and hard-hitting, favouring explosive guitar hero theatrics that Welch purposefully avoided. The soon-to-be canonised line-up of the Mac give it a solid go, and the results aren’t nearly as bad as some commenters may indicate.
More than anything else, this performance of ‘Hypnotized’ is a fascinating time capsule of a band still finding its new identity. The public at large didn’t know what was coming in the form of Rumours or Tusk or Tango in the Night or anything like that. They knew of Fleetwood Mac as helmed by Bob Welch and Peter Green, and so the band oblige with their takes on those songs. The band also take on ‘Oh Well’ and ‘The Green Manalishi (The Two-Pronged Crown)’, both Green-era compositions, during the concert. Seeing Buckingham approximate is quite entertaining to watch, especially considering that there would be a good number of replacement singer/guitarists who would attempt to approximate his Fleetwood Mac songs in the future (and up to the present day).
Check out the performance of ‘Hypnotized’ with Lindsey Buckingham on lead vocals down below.