Fleetwood Mac is getting the full orchestral treatment in an upcoming tribute show. Rita Bratovich spoke with Tania Doko about the challenges of stepping into the shoes of rock legends.
Seven Wonders: The Music of Fleetwood Mac Orchestrated is a tribute concert featuring a selection of the band’s most memorable songs arranged for a 24-piece symphony orchestra (and a smattering of rock instruments) by conductor George Ellis. Vocals are being supplied in various combinations by four of Australia’s singing elite: Karise Eden, Mark Williams (Dragon), Prinnie Stevens and Tania Doko (Bachelor Girl).
Tania Doko is thrilled to be part of the show. Having grown up with much older sisters, she was introduced to the music of Fleetwood Mac from a young age.
“It was part of the soundtrack in the house, and I just followed suit,” says Doko.
“Of course, I fell in love with them as a grown up musician even more because I appreciated the songs, the song crafting, the musicianship – and Stevie Nicks I’ve always been quietly obsessed over.”
Although she describes Nicks as “the quintessential songwriter and rockstar”, Doko says she finds Nicks’ lyrics enigmatic and doesn’t always understand them on first reading.
“I’ve always been one to be really clear with songwriting, but I’ve appreciated in recent years – and certainly with this Fleetwood discography too – I’m liking that they’re a bit obscure.”
Doko believes the vagueness allows for broader interpretation.
“That’s why they’re little timeless evergreens.”
All four performers in the tribute concert will sing hits from the band’s extensive back catalogue but Doko, whose voice has a similar raspy quality to that of Nicks, has got the dominant share of Nicks songs. She’s not complaining – she loves so many of the songs.
“‘Stand Back’ is a favourite because it’s a rocky dance song which means I can put a foot in both camps, you know? I can sort of rock out but I can be a bit of a dance nut at the same time … you can’t go past ‘Landslide’ … ‘Gold Dust Woman’, which I wasn’t necessarily inside of but now I am more so as I’m learning it, and I just love the drony, cruisiness of that song. I’m a sucker for ‘Rhiannon’ [and] ‘Gypsy’ has gotta be up in the top three for me.”
Doko will also be performing some “Lindsey Buckingham/Stevie duets” with Mark Williams.
“Pretending that we’ve been in love and then we’re tortured on stage,” she laughs.
For many of the artists and musicians in the show, it’s going to be the first time they’ve performed at this scale for over a year.
“We’re almost a bit giddy. I’m a bit nervous giddy,” says Doko.
Add to that the fact that a big chunk of the audience will be die hard Fleetwood Mac fans who know every song lyric and the screws get tightened even further.
“If people are coming to Fleetwood Mac to hear the discography, they’re going to want integrity with the songs, so the pressure is on.”
The integrity of the songs certainly won’t be compromised by the new orchestral arrangements. George Ellis has an acute pop sensibility and is working with a collection of songs that have a wide dynamic and emotional range.
“An orchestra can be quiet as a mouse, but then they can be quite bombastic, that’s why this body of work is really gonna work. I mean ‘Dreams’ and ‘Seven Wonders’ will be extremely grand!” says Doko.
“If I was gonna do a show right now, of a body of work I’m so impressed with, I couldn’t think of a better show to be a part of.”
Seven Wonders – The Music of Fleetwood Mac Orchestrated plays the State Theatre, Sydney at 8pm Wednesday, 10 March and Thursday, 11 March. Tickets (from $99.90 plus booking fee) available at https://metropolistouring.com/fleetwood-mac-orchestrated-2021/.