Some believe the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It's an adage that's proven time and again when a band member with an inflated ego decides to take center stage and fly solo into his or her own career path. More often than not, the results are disappointing and unspectacular. But Lindsey Buckingham obviously doesn't subscribe to that maxim. The guitar virtuoso who has served as an integral part of Fleetwood Mac, arguably one of the hugest and most successful bands of the rock era, has no qualms about breaking away from the enormous Mac machine and basking in the spotlight to show off his many solo talents. A small but passionate crowd of 437 tightly-packed bodies at Clearwater's cozy Capitol Theatre was treated to an intimate evening with Buckingham on Wednesday night and, it's safe to say, it was an evening anyone in attendance won't soon forget. [Text by Gabe, photos by Tracy.]
The tall, lanky guitarist appeared silently on the small stage casually clad in black t-shirt, black leather jacket and jeans at around 8:10 p.m., and without a word, picked up one of his many guitars and launched into a haunting acoustic version of
"It Was You" "Shut Us Down," one of the standout tracks from his fantastic 2006 album Under The Skin. Buckingham occupied the stage alone for the first five numbers of the night before inviting his fine three-piece band onstage to round out the sound. But it was the night's early, stripped-down readings that gave the clearest insight into the eerie genius that festers inside the brain of Buckingham. Lyrically, his compositions have often been riddled with themes of paranoia, neurosis and isolation. His well-documented history of conflicts and relationship battles within the Fleetwood Mac sect has no doubt propagated his penchant for composing his own brand of twisted, tortured tunes. "Go Insane," the title track from his 1984 release, reared its manic head more effectively and intensely than ever before fueled only by Buckingham's always jaw-dropping guitar work and his impassioned screams and yelps.
Vocally, Lindsey hasn't lost an iota of the range that made him such a soaring ingredient of the Fleetwood Mac sound and it's fair to say that he's actually learned to manipulate his vocal skills more effectively later in his career. A bare-bones, stripped down rendition of the gargantuan Mac staple "Tusk" benefited from the flawless whisper to a scream and back to a whisper vocal treatment it was enveloped in. And oh yeah ... there's that phenomenal, wildly original and awe-inspiring ability to make a guitar sound like quite no one else in the business. Buckingham's unorthodox picking and strumming style has been his trademark for decades, but it's really a fascinating sight to behold and listen to in this type of intimate setting. He didn't fail to wow the adoring crowd with his guitar antics and drew several spontaneous standing ovations as a result.
Buckingham kept his between-song stage patter to a minimum. He spoke of the differences in collaborating with Mac as opposed to his solo touring band as well as offering a few inspirational quips about feeling young and continuing to be inspired to do what he does. And, in a humorous moment, he was particularly tickled with the shimmering, trippy reflections his guitars were projecting on the side walls of the theater.
Juggling between the Mac catalog of hits ("Go Your Own Way," "Big Love") and its deeper album cuts ("Second Hand News," "Never Going Back Again"), Buckingham was able to seamlessly integrate plenty of his fantastic solo work into the setlist. Most notable were the selections from Seeds We Sow, his outstanding new and very personal record. While most in the audience seemed unfamiliar with the newer material, they seemed to be just as entranced with it as with the more recognizable fare.
After two encores and almost two hours later, Buckingham ended the evening with two of his most memorable compositions of recent years: "Treason" from his stellar 2008 release, Gift of Screws, and the title track off Seeds We Sow. A bold move for sure, to end the night with such fresh, potentially unrecognizable songs, but it's a true testament and a wise move on the part of a man who obviously feels as strongly and as proudly of his solo work as he does of his better-know work with Fleetwood Mac.
It's refreshing to see a veteran artist with the amount of road savvy and experience that Buckingham possesses take his show on the road and play to small yet impassioned crowds. It's even more encouraging to see him deliver a show of this caliber instead of simply going through the motions. Buckingham can jump back aboard the Fleetwood Mac bandwagon any time time the group gets the itch to release a record or tour, but he most certainly has a self-fulfilling solo career to rely on as well.
1. Shut Us Down
2. Go Insane
4. Never Going Back Again
5. Big Love
6. Under The Skin
7. All My Sorrows
8. In Our Own Time
10. Second Hand News
12. Stars Are Crazy
13. End of Time
14. That’s The Way Love Goes
15. Im So Afraid
16. Go Your Own Way
17. Turn It On
19. Seeds We Sow