SEX, DRUGS AND FLEETWOOD MAC @ Downstairs at the Maj gets 8/10

Sex, Drugs and Fleetwood Mac: Rumours From A True Story
@ Downstairs at the Maj
Tuesday, January 22, 2019


As we marched down the steps to the venue below His Majesty’s Theatre, Downstairs at the Maj (once the Greenwich Bar in earlier incarnations), I wasn’t sure if this FRINGE WORLD show was going to be cheeky, irreverent fare or a Fleetwood Mac tribute. Turned out it was about a third the former and two-thirds the latter, with covers band Sweetwood performing, but with a smart blend that made for a most entertaining evening.

Before that was all revealed, the sold-out crowd was cosily settling into their candle-lit tables at this gem of a venue, while the band (sans Stevie) was carrying out a sound check/jam of sorts on stage as a kind of prelude. The demographics of the crowd was, well, a very Fleetwood Mac-like vintage with some youngsters scattered about, all likely intending to snap up tickets to the nearly complete real line up coming to Perth with tickets going on sale in days.

Eventually Stevie Nicks (played with zeal by Zalia Joi) paraded through the audience to join Lindsey Buckingham (Shannon Smith) and the boys on stage and the show began with “experimental” track, Tusk. Stevie began with a humorous recounting of how she and Lindsey met and how their first band was formed in parallel with their relationship. Then their lucky break came when Mick Fleetwood (here played by drummer Reilly Stewart) heard their demo while dropping in at a studio when he needed a guitarist. Buckingham and Nicks explained they were a package deal and the rest is history. Good career moves for all!

The thumbnail sketch of the band’s history delivered in Joi’s dramatic spoken word retelling is a highlight of the show, especially if you’ve never read a Fleetwood Mac biography or similar. These thumbnail vignettes segued into the songs that logically followed the banter, providing new perspectives on the numbers.

And – what songs! Rhiannon, Don’t Stop, The Chain, Go Your Own Way, Landslide…etc. etc. (I’ll stop there). The band gave inspired performances of hit after hit after hit – I had forgotten how many of these songs are just a part of a soundtrack of life for so many folk. The audience lapped these numbers up, clapping and singing along with and without prompts from the band.

The band was extremely tight, Smith as Lindsey played his axe with pizzazz, and was a good foil to Joi’s Stevie, hamming up the perfectionist asshat’s personality to a tee. Stewart looked the part of Mick Fleetwood, cajoling the front people in a puppet-master-like role just like the real Mick.

The announcement of the real Fleetwood Mac coming to Perth just before Sex, Drugs and Fleetwood Mac has its run this week at the Maj is perfect timing. Punters planning to attend the concert will dig this show’s combination of look and sound of the band, with the Fringe sense of humour throughout, and hey – at least this band has a “Lindsey Buckingham” in it!

Based on the enthusiastic applause after each of the songs performed and a rousing ovation at the end of the show, Sex, Drugs and Fleetwood Mac is a bonafide hit.