The grey sky that hung over Hope Estate on Saturday evening eventually fulfilled its promise of rain.
But it would take more than a downpour and cold wind to dampen the spirits of 19,000 Fleetwood Mac fans, who danced and sang to a marathon 23-song set.
The legendary rock band were fulfilling a promise of their own - returning to Australia after cancelling a 2013 national tour due to founding member and bassist John McVie’s cancer diagnosis.
Luckily he recovered and remains in the band.
It was also the first time in 16 years that co-vocalist, keyboardist and songwriter Christine McVie had been a member of the group.
As night fell, Fleetwood Mac opened the Hunter leg of their On With The Show tour with four tracks from their landmark recording Rumours – rocker The Chain, the Christine McVie performed and penned You Make Loving Fun, Second Hand News and Dreams.
Then it was time for Rhiannon, a song likely responsible for the names of the all the Rhiannons in attendance.
It was evident that this classic five-piece line-up, which transformed Fleetwood Mac from a blues band into a pop-orientated juggernaut with their eponymous 1975 debut record, remain a tight, seamless live unit.
A stand-out moment was the stripped-back acoustic performance of Landslide by guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and sorcerous singer Stevie Nicks.
Also memorable was an extended heavy, spacey rendition of I’m So Afraid in which guitarist Lindsey Buckingham stretched out into an epic guitar solo, showing off his distinctive finger-picking style.
The jaunty instrumental Tusk received a rapturous response, and Little Lies and Go Your Own Way made everyone forget they were wrapped in plastic ponchos and braving the elements.
The first encore contained pop-hit Don't Stop and the anthem Silver Springs, before a closing second encore of Lindsay Buckingham and Christine McVie on Songbird.
But aside from the polished performance and stream of classic songs was evidence of a band that, despite their colourful and tumultuous history, still manages to hone in on the chemistry that makes them one of the most loved acts in music history.
They remain a joy to watch.
Concerts keep business booming
by PERRY DUFFIN
Wineries and restaurants in Pokolbin have reported a rise in business that coincides with big-name musical performances in the vineyards.
Twine restaurant, Audrey Wilkinson and Adina Vineyard all confirmed an increase in patronage over the weekend as Fleetwood Mac attracted more than 30,000 visitors to Hope Estate.
Audrey Wilkinson cellar door manager Ross Weppler said he was heartened that most visitors, who are largely from Sydney, arrived already aware of the Hunter’s reputation for food and wine.
“The Hunter is known worldwide, it’s definitely good for business and a sign of good branding for the Hunter,” he said.
“[The concerts] are just a great excuse for people to have fun in the paddock with some great wine.”
Twine restaurant manager Karen Thomson said the jump in numbers around major concerts was immense as ticket holders sought to explore the Valley.
“Many are already aware of the Hunter and many are returning customers for us,” she said.
“A small number aren’t aware, but once they come here for a concert they tend to come back and explore the place at a later date.
Mrs Thomson said the majority of attendees were baby-boomers though the legendary status of the performers attracted a large number of young people.
“The gates to Hope Estate open late in the afternoon but people are coming up early to explore and make the most of the day,” she said. “It’s a beautiful place to visit and it’s a significant boost for the whole area.”