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Los Angeles Times (12/12/1992), Buckingham Soars as a Solo < Lindsey Buckingham < Main Page

Los Angeles Times (12/12/1992), Buckingham Soars as a Solo

Los Angeles Times, December 12, 1992

Buckingham Soars as a Solo
His Energized Concert--Whether a Debut or Comeback--Is a Triumph
by Mike Boehm, Times Staff Writer

It's hard to pick the right descriptive noun for Lindsey Buckingham's concert Thursday night at the Coach House.

Was it a comeback? Besides a few cameos and TV appearances, Buckingham hadn't played in public since 1982, when he was a member of Fleetwood Mac.

Or was it a debut? Until he stepped on stage to open his two-night stand, Buckingham had never fronted a band of his own, even though he is now on his third solo album, following five studio releases with Fleetwood Mac and one with Buckingham Nicks in a recording career that dates back 19 years. (His shows Thursday and Friday were warm-ups for an upcoming TV concert taping and a tour planned for early next year.)

Comeback or debut, Buckingham's concert was confident, energized, accomplished, wide-ranging and surprising. Heck, as long as we're slinging modifiers, why not go all the way? As comebacks and/or debuts go, this one was triumphant.

Instead of easing back into the fishbowl of live performance, Buckingham, a competitive swimmer as a youth, took the cold plunge, starting the show with a solo-acoustic version of the Fleetwood Mac hit, "Big Love." Here was Buckingham, who has a reputation for holing himself up hermit-like in his home recording studio for years at a time, whose lavishly assembled, one-man-band solo albums indicate that he may never have met an overdub he didn't like, taking one of the grandest production numbers of his career and stripping it to its naked elements.

It was as if Buckingham were saying up front that, though we may have forgotten it, he isn't just a studio jock, but someone who can make a song work in real time, using only the most basic means. He proved his point with a gutsy, shouting performance that strained and frayed his distinctive, reedy tenor as he pumped "Big Love" full of as much big drama as he could. When it got a big cheer, Buckingham did a frisky little step, then gave a sheepish " 'tweren't nothing" grin. That opener pretty much established the tone for the 18 songs that followed in a too-short 85-minute set: Buckingham emphasized the dramatic, delivered it with intensity and skill (especially in his often remarkable finger-picked acoustic- and electric-guitar work), and exuded obvious pleasure in being back on stage.

Live, Buckingham was able to extricate songs from the heavily produced, hothouse ambience of his latest album, "Out of the Cradle," and allow them to breathe. While most of the evening's full-band arrangements closely followed album versions of Buckingham's solo and Fleetwood Mac material, many songs took on a different and unusual cast thanks to the unorthodox setup Buckingham chose in recruiting a band of nine young, unknown players. There were five guitarists (counting himself), three percussionists weaving light, nimble patterns instead of the usual blatant rock 'n' roll smash-and-thud, plus a bassist and a keyboards player. Always a great arranger, Buckingham used that large arsenal to produce clarity and nuance rather than clutter and brute brawn.

Not that Buckingham and band couldn't muster brawn when they wanted to in an exceptionally varied performance. Buckingham played a half-dozen solo-acoustic tunes, mostly using lustrous, nylon-string guitar tones. He offered choral numbers that employed as many as six backing voices--"All My Sorrows," a Kingston Trio cover from his latest album, had the lushness of the Association singing "Cherish," while an encore version of the Mac-era "Save Me a Place" recalled the Beach Boys in its sumptuous fullness of harmony.

While Buckingham's selection of seven Fleetwood Mac songs included well-wrought versions of such classic-rock hits as "Go Your Own Way," "The Chain" and "Tusk," he didn't have to rely on nostalgia value to stir the audience. "I'm So Afraid," a less-famous track from the 1975 "Fleetwood Mac" album, swarmed up grandly as Buckingham capped it with a dark, wailing solo that took on the clenched intensity of one of Neil Young's patented workouts with Crazy Horse. It drew a standing ovation.

"This Is the Time" was the other set-piece for guitar heroism. This time, Buckingham displayed a showman's instinct, turning his guitar squadron into a screaming relay team, each player carrying the solo baton in a game of pass-the-distortion. It was a fun, crowd-pleasing stroke that ended with Buckingham giving new meaning to the term "necking" as he playfully rubbed his fret board against that of one of his cohorts, Janet Robin.

Given his skills as an arranger, it's no surprise that Buckingham's concert followed a well thought-out sequence. After opening with solo versions of two hits, "Big Love" and "Go Insane," Buckingham brought on the band and alternated between oldies and new songs while steadily turning up the heat. Then it was back to solo performance, three songs ending in a fine, intimate version of "Never Going Back Again."

Buckingham, showing complete ease in front of his fans, introduced songs in the mid-set acoustic sequence by alluding to some hard emotional times that inspired him to write or reinterpret them. Building back up with the band, he ended the set proper with the expected "Go Your Own Way," his most famous song. (Early on, he had made a joking bargain with the full-house crowd: "As long as you don't call out, 'Go Your Own Way,' too soon, we'll get along great.") Buckingham easily topped "Go Your Own Way" in the encore, leading the band through a lesser-known Fleetwood Mac song, "Eyes of the World," that cantered ahead with a Buddy Holly-ish combination of chunky rock guitaring and light-stepping, exuberant rhythm. Buckingham sang "Soul Drifter" as a brief solo coda. In one last thespian gesture in a show that included a couple of poems recited as song intros, Buckingham dropped to a whisper on the final words, "the soul drifter--that's me," as the lone spotlight went black.

The only question left unanswered was: If that's him, why on earth has he been hiding himself so long?

Thanks to Les for posting this to the Ledge and to Anusha for formatting and sending it to us.

Date: 1992-12-12         Number of views: 1350

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