The Refugees At The Getty

Last Thursday night I went to Staples Center to see Fleetwood Mac.

I was truly excited.  Last time through, they killed.

But this time…it was a dash for cash.  Lacking the balance of the pristine Christine McVie, we were left with guitar solos and Stevie Nicks’ desire to be twenty five forever.

It’s a construct.  We won’t admit the band is over the hill if we don’t have to admit that we too are aged, that our bodies are sagging, that we’ve achieved only a fraction of our hopes and dreams.  We pay a fortune to be brought back to what once was.  But it can never be again.

Last time through, Fleetwood Mac Hoovered up every last dollar.  Played some markets three times.  So, what was the incentive to go to the show this year?  This a case of mismanagement.  Give us a marketing hook, play along with us.  Can’t they be promoting SOMETHING?  Can’t there be a story?  Of course, no one cares about an entire new album.  But can’t you give us A SINGLE?  How hard would it be for this band to go into the studio and cut a track?  If it’s creatively bankrupt it could even do a cover.  Hell, isn’t the best Stevie Nicks song ever a Tom Petty tune?

And I saw TP backstage.  It was a cornucopia of stars.  But although Frasier Crane was very friendly, the brush with greatness that touched me most was my encounter with Perez Hilton.  He was coming right towards me, I’d seen that he’d recently signed up for my Twitter feed.  What the hell, I’ll introduce myself.

And that’s when Perez said he’d signed up for my feed.  THAT’S WHY I STOPPED YOU!

But what stunned me was how NORMAL Mario Lavendeira was.  I expected a bit of flamboyance, a man detached from the everyday world.  But Perez had his feet firmly planted.  So we had a discussion.  I asked him about that ad he had on his blog last week, the one that was smack dab in the middle of the page, that was made to look like a story.  Perez told me he had no idea what I was talking about.  He had people who placed the ads for him!  And he’d whore himself out to ANYONE!

That was insightful.  So different from the older generation.  And it’s working for him.

Anyway, our seats were PHENOMENAL!  I was so excited.  But Fleetwood Mac was a bit flat.  But the rhythm section was PHENOMENAL!  Fleetwood and McVie were rock solid, a thundering bottom sitting under Lindsey Buckingham’s exquisite leads.  If only they played Bonnaroo as a blues band instead of reprising these aged hits.  "Oh Well" was fantastic.  Made one yearn for the days of Peter Green.  Lindsey’s got the chops.  Why is he working out for these fans who are coming for nostalgia, not music?  The younger generation still cares.  Believe me, if these three, the core, Mick, McVie and Lindsey, played the blues at festivals across this great nation of ours, they’d be seen as vital again.  Instead, no one under the age of twenty five was in attendance. Unless dragged there by their parents.

And that’s the ultimate question…  Are you a musician, or a star?

I’ve wondered for eons why Stevie Nicks dances like Elaine on "Seinfeld".  Now I know.  Her goddamn heels are so high that if she moves like a normal person, instead of with that arm shrug thing, SHE’LL FALL OVER!

It’s sad.  So she’s short.  SO FUCKING WHAT!  In a nation where we’ve got a black President, you’re still hiding your perceived shortcomings?  The future is about OWNING THEM!

Truly, I’d love to tell you Fleetwood Mac were great.  But it ended up being creepy.  Like watching a classic movie.  Except for the instrumental passages, the show didn’t breathe, it lacked life.

But the Refugees were FULL OF LIFE at the Getty Saturday night.

It’s a supergroup of never-beens.  Wendy Waldman, Cindy Bullens and Deborah Holland.  All with notches in their belts, but none of them household words.  But they decided to form a band.  To join forces to create something NEW!

They’re not trading on the old days, they’ve written new songs, THEY’RE STILL TRYING!  That’s the problem with so many of the has-beens, they’ve given up.  They don’t want to come down off their perch, they don’t want to take a risk.

It was a free show.  But that didn’t mean the Refugees didn’t fill the hall, didn’t get a standing ovation.  The major labels said the Internet would KILL music.  Just the opposite, technology allows everyone to make music.  But it’s extremely hard to break through.  And being musicians, I’m not sure the Refugees will.  They need a business mind.  Someone to get them a gig on Lifetime.  Or, as they desire, the cover of the AARP magazine.  Because if the boomers just experienced the Refugees, they could become the female Jimmy Buffett.

Sure, it’s about the songs.  But it’s also about the vibe.  It’s about the SHOW!

A show isn’t just standing up there playing calcified hits.  A show is its own entity, something BEYOND the record.  None of the Refugees songs will become hits.  Where would anybody play them?  But they service the act well.  Yet the glue that seals the deal is the stories in between.  About hot flashes, about post-menopausal Barbies, Ken with a combover.  There’s humor, but there’s also truth.

That’s what’s lacking in Fleetwood Mac, truth.  Stevie Nicks covers up her avoirdupois.  The act is opaque, there’s no penetration.  These are stars.  You get no access.  In an era where Perez reveals every facet of his personality and uncovers your warts too.

How about Stevie and Lindsey speaking about their animosity?  How about Christine McVie beamed in via satellite?  How about the texting on the side screens featured at a Taylor Swift show?

Image is no longer everything.  Because the truth outs.

The truth is Fleetwood Mac is creatively bankrupt, and won’t take a chance for fear of alienating their paying fans.

The truth is musicians even less well-known than the Refugees are packing up their gear in vans, starting at the grass roots level.  Will they and the Refugees break through?  I DON’T KNOW!  But is that really what it’s about?  Or is it about playing, the experience of being on the road, the band sharing one hotel room.

The apex has collapsed.  No one sells ten million records anymore.  The superstars are so worried, they’re just protecting what they once had and will never have again.  We’re starting over.  There are no rules.  You don’t need a hit, because your audience will probably never hear it on the outlets that make it so.  You need to win hearts and minds.  Middlemen are irrelevant.

Everybody’s reunited so many times that we’ve got no desire to see almost anybody get on stage and play their hits.  This business has been propped up by the so-called superstars for far too long.  Now it’s imploding.  THANK GOD!

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