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Los Angeles Times, Out of the Cradle San Juan Capistrano < Lindsey Buckingham < Main Page

Los Angeles Times, Out of the Cradle San Juan Capistrano

POP MUSIC REVIEW : Whatever You Call It, It Was a Triumph : Former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham leaves enthusiastic Coach House fans wondering where he's been keeping himself.


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

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 a debut? Until he stepped on stage to open his two-night stand, Buckingham never had fronted a band of his own. (These shows were warm-ups for an upcoming TV concert taping and a planned tour early next year).

Comeback or debut, Buckingham's show was confident, energized, accomplished, wide-ranging and surprising. Heck, as long as we're slinging praises, 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 in his youth, took the cold plunge, opening with a solo acoustic version of the latter-day Fleetwood Mac hit "Big Love."

Buckingham has a reputation for holing up hermit-like in his home recording studio for years at a time, and his lavishly assembled one-man-band solo albums indicate that he may never have met an over-dub he didn't like. But here he was, taking one of the grandest production numbers of his 19-year recording career and stripping it to naked elements.

It was as if he was 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 using only the most basic means. He proved his point with a gutsy, shouting performance that strained and frayed his distinctive, reedy tenor.

When "Big Love" 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 breath. He used an unorthodox lineup of young, unknown players--five guitarists (counting himself), three percussionists, a bassist and keyboard player--weaving light, nimble patterns instead of the usual blatant rock 'n' roll smash-and-thud. Always a great arranger, Buckingham used that large arsenal to produce clarity and nuance rather than clutter and brawn.

Buckingham's varied, well-sequenced program included six solo-acoustic numbers that showcased lustrous nylon-string guitar tones, chorale pieces featuring lush harmonies supported by as many as six backing voices, and rockers ranging from spirited neo-Buddy Holly ("Eyes of the World") to glowering Neil Young-like guitar dynamism ("I'm So Afraid").

While a seven-song sampling of Fleetwood Mac tunes included well-wrought versions of classic rock hits ("Go Your Own Way," "The Chain," "Tusk"), Buckingham didn't have to rely on nostalgia value to stir the audience. Fans saved their biggest ovations for moments of peak intensity, rather than peak familiarity.

Date: 1994-12-12         Number of views: 1544

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