Fleetwood Mac – L.A. Forum 1977 2nd Night (Wardour-411)

L.A. Forum 1977 2nd Night (Wardour-411)

The Forum, Inglewood, CA, USA – August 30, 1977

Disc 1 (48:50) Intro, Say You Love Me, Monday Morning, Dreams, Oh Well, Rhiannon, Oh Daddy, Never Going Back Again, Landslide, Over My Head, Gold Dust Woman

Disc 2 (42:43) You Make Loving Fun, I’m So Afraid, Go Your Own Way, World Turning, Blue Letter, The Chain, Second Hand News, Songbird

The Lost and Found Mike The MICrophone Tapes series so far has been a very diverse outing and gives many collectors a chance to hear Mike Millard recordings we may have otherwise not known about. Sure I have heard his Zeppelin, Stones, Rush and Yes recordings, but Mike enjoyed other artists like Linda Ronstadt and John Prine. It should not have come as a surprise when his recording of Fleetwood Mac’s second of two concerts at the famed LA Forum appeared. The recording certainly lives up to the “Lost and Found” billing as, like the Queen March 3, 1977 show, is not known to circulate.

The sound of his recording is excellent, as Jim R’s notes state they were positioned in the second row center, Millard’s “sweet spot”. As stated the quality is excellent and perfectly balanced with all instruments and vocals being clear and detailed in the mix. Like the Queen recording, there is a bit of occasional audience noise near Mike, thankfully not obtrusive. The sound is not as clean as his Zeppelin recordings from 77 and is similar quality to the Queen recording and like his other Forum tapes, it perfectly captures the atmosphere. Mike’s recording was originally released on CD-R as Live At The LA Forum (Midnight Dreamer MD-953A/B) and budget label Moonchild has just released Live In California Mike Millard Tape (Moonchild Records MC-208). Wardour has left the tape alone, the quality and mastering performed by the JEMS crew was all that needed to be done. Like my other reviews of this series I am using the torrent notes to provide a bit of background of the event starting with Jim R’s recollections:

“On August 30, 1977 Mike and I attended Fleetwood Mac at The Fabulous Forum. Wow over 42 years ago. We sat Section B Row 2 (2nd row center) on the floor. I pushed Mike in the wheelchair on this, the second of two nights at the Forum.

Due to the huge popularity of the Rumours album, tickets were in extremely high demand. Fleetwood Mac had an upscale demographic, so choice floor seats were very costly. Therefore we attended only the one night. Sitting 2nd row center means we are about 10 feet or so from the “security brutes” positioned along the front of the stage. We could get spotted and busted at any time!!! But second row center does have it’s benefits:

Mick Fleetwood’s facial expressions are quite entertaining.
John McVie lays down a great bass line.
At times, Lindsey uses a banjo-type method of playing guitar.
Christine is a steady mother figure.
And last but not least there is Stevie. Let’s just say it’s hard to take your eyes off her.

Second row center was our “Sweet Spot” for sound, as we could pick up the stage monitors as much if not more than the main PA. This result is a typical Millard Forum recording in its excellence”.

I keep up weekly on The Lost and Found Mike The MICrophone Tapes series, enjoying reading the details and tape’s history and Jim R’s stories. There has been some interesting tidbits of information mixed in as well, it was in the notes for this Fleetwood Mac concert that one of Mike’s most interesting recording “tricks” was revealed:

Thanks to Rob, last week Jim and I had the opportunity to see Mike’s original Nakamichi 550 cassette deck on which he made all his fabulous recordings. I also learned that Rob borrowed Mike’s rig (including the AKG mics) on several occasions in the early ‘90s to record shows himself. We look forward to sharing some of those tapes along the way as well.

As I examined Millard’s Nak 550, I noticed there were strips of tape on the Record, Pause and Stop/Eject buttons, and each of the tape strips had different textures. Jim and Rob explained that Mike deployed this tactile system so he could reach into his bag hiding the Nak and operate the controls without having to look at the deck. His fingers could tell which button they were on by the texture of the tape strips. Genius!

By August 1977 Rumours achieved Platinum status on the strength of four top ten singles, so they were huge on the live circuit and Fleetwood Mac played two sold out concerts at the Forum. The Rumours tour was the last one to feature just the five members of the band, from here on out they would be augmented by others to better recreate the music they were producing (well there is a second guitarist on a couple songs, on Monday Morning and Never Going Back Again). The recording begins with the band walking onstage and Christine McVie’s “Thank you good evening LA” and the band nonchalantly start a little shuffle while they are properly introduced “Ladies and Gentlemen please give a warm welcome to Fleetwood Mac” and the concert begins with Say You Love Me. The set list is basically the best material from Rumours and its predecessor, the self titled Fleetwood Mac album plus one song from the Peter Green era.

Stevie still sounds a little shy as she thanks the crowd after Dreams, her songs will get huge ovations all evening, especially Rhiannon, a “Song about a Witch” and has that dramatic jamming ending, certainly with Stevie fully entrenched in the Witch persona. Lindsey’s guitar is very clear in the mix and his picking style is evident on Over My Head, very interesting to hear him alternate between picking and strumming, certainly a unique guitarist.

The backbone of the band is undoubtedly Mick Fleetwood and John McVie whose synchronicity is on full display on You Make Loving Fun, they just have that deep groove. What is nice about this recording is you can hear the little fills that Mick adds, very subtle yet adding a bit of that live edge to the music. There are a couple really hard songs, I’m So Afraid is one, originally written before Buckingham and Nicks were in Fleetwood Mac, it is dark and moody, Lindsey’s playing is dynamic, his riffs move you, his leads cut you, a show stopping song.

Go Your Own Way continues the momentum, again the song has a great extended rocking ending and the band has the crowd firmly in their grasp. World Turning features a Mick Fleetwood drum solo, it’s short and doesn’t bog down the momentum, in fact when the band break into Blue Letter the audience is right with them clapping along. The encores are strong, a much anticipated song is first, The Chain, John McVie’s iconic bass runs are quite strong in this recording. Christine’s Songbird closes the concert proper, she gets the final word so to speak, her voice is just beautiful and a fitting way to end the concert.

The packaging is the usual fare, inserts with black and white photos on the outside, colour inside, some from the Rumours era, some not. The CD’s have a Rumours cover outtake shot on them and some copies come with a numbered sticker. This is a nice title for both Millard enthusiasts and the casual collector, there is also the budget release by Moonchild to consider as well.

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