September 29, 2011 (New York, NY) — Most of the over-55 rocker set are phoning it in these days, playing it all too safe amidst diminishing skills. So it was a true pleasure to be blown away by a set of mostly solo material by sometime-Fleetwood Mac member Lindsey Buckingham’s performance at Town Hall last night.
Kicking off with a set of 7 acoustic numbers, Buckingham had the typically jaded New York audience on its feet between each number. The opener, “Shut Us Down” from 2006’s “Under the Skin” set the template. Buckingham went from delicately fingerpicked melodies to bold but articulated strumming, all the while holding down an exquisite melody with a voice that he exhibits total control of. “Go Insane”, from Buckigham’s 1984 solo album of the same name, and “Trouble” from 1987’s “Law and Order” received magnificent reworkings. Shorn of their 80’s production and stripped down to bare-bones acoustic numbers in Buckingham’s nimble hands, the songs ebbed and flowed and took the audience places that the original versions only ever hinted at. “Never Going Back Again” from Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” was familiar and performed to perfection, but didn’t pack the same punch as the previous, less familiar but completely reimagined tunes, but “Big Love”, a Mac song stripped like the others to its core, fared better.
No matter, the audience were still rapturous in their applause. And deservedly so. In fact, neither Buckingham’s studio recordings or his live recordings or concert films have ever really captured the power on display last night.
Finishing off the first part of the show with “Under the Skin” (the title track of one of Buckingham’s three recent, excellent solo efforts) and “All My Sorrows” (from 1992’s “Out of the Cradle”), Buckingham seemed to gain momentum from energy of the audience as much as the peaks in his playing.
Buckingham’s long-time touring band then joined him. After the power of his acoustic set, this was a bit of a let down. The band is excellent, but is perhaps too perfect, devoid of any edge or soul, not really in Buckingham’s class. But the show was ultimately about Buckingham and he didn’t disappoint.
With every whoop and hollar, every high note, and even every between song, off-mic scream in acknowledgement of the audience, it seemed that Buckingham might blow out that still-powerful voice of his. But his voice, like his guitar-playing, stayed strong and controlled throughout the night. In fact, though Buckingham clearly was working himself hard, he also was in total control of the stage over the course of the night.
Ten more songs whisked by, including Mac classics “Second Hand News”, “Tusk” (that’s right!), “I’m So Afraid” and the master class in making the quirky a pop classic “Go Your Own Way.”
Buckingham talked during his set several times about his career being akin to that of a film director who has been lucky to make blockbusters (with Fleetwood Mac) as well as independent films (his solo works), and how both feed off each other, but also how his smaller projects have sustained him and allowed him to grow and stretch artistically. And he seemed genuinely appreciative that his (relatively) small audience has not just indulged him, but has gone along for the ride with him every step of the way.
Buckingham returned for an encore with three solo songs, “Turn It On”, the excellent “Treason” and the title track from his new album “Seeds We Sow.” The Town Hall audience was with him until the last note rang out.
This article is copyright 2011 by Jeff Slate. No part may be reprinted or referenced without permission and/or attribution. All rights reserved.