Homestead, PA, Carnegie Library Music Hall, Friday June 15
With no new album to promote, Lindsey Buckingham doesn’t really need to tour. Heck, he doesn’t even need a band. His unique finger picking technique allows him to plays bass lines with his thumb while playing the melody with his fingers. The result is a one man wall of sound that overmatches the intimate venues he plays. This time around, he has no accompaniment, even the stagehands exchanging his guitars are out of view. He acknowledged the downsizing over his career, from the heyday of supergroup Fleetwood Mac to carrying only 3-4 members in his early solo career and culminating in this year’s one man show. “This tour I call the ‘Small Machine’” It allows for more creative freedom and risk taking. Obviously, Fleetwood Mac was a juggernaut and creative in a different way.”
He began on acoustic, with muscular versions of “Cast Away Dreams,” from 2006’s Under the Skin and Fleetwood Mac’s “Bleed to Love Her.” Throughout the set, the audience jumped out of their seats after nearly every song. The 62-year old’s soulful voice seems to have gotten better over time and he displayed his power by holding notes on ”Not Too Late.” It elicited one of most enthusiastic responses from the sold out theater.
Four songs in, he broke out his signature Turner electric axe for “Stephanie” from the 1975 Buckingham Nicks album. The violin shaped instrument sustains high notes like no other and is rarely played by other artists. Ironically, his most famous solo, the scorching five minutes during “I’m So Afraid,” exposed the pivotal role of pounding drums, crashing cymbals and a thumping electric bass only an ensemble can provide. Without a band, it sounds a bit screechy and is ear splitting.
Buckingham is a self -described “eccentric.” He is prone to waxing philosophical in the Zen tradition between songs. It is clear that he is intelligent, spiritual and self-aware, but his musings can be distracting and time consuming.
His most impressive picking comes on “Big Love.” Originally written as a solo work, Fleetwood Mac turned it into an ensemble piece and a huge hit. Buckingham said he was fearful of love after his break up with Stevie Nicks. He told the audience, “That’s why the lyric is, “Looking out for love.”
There’s a reason Fleetwood Mac employed two guitarists in its attempt to equal the firepower of the estranged Buckingham in 1990. That experiment produced the band’s worst selling album, Behind The Mask. Upon seeing Buckingham live, it’s easy to understand why the Mac’s attempt still fell short. Just as bizarre is Rolling Stone ranking him dead last on its 100 greatest guitarists list.