“2018 had been a year of surprises”, Lindsey Buckingham said as he nervously laughed after while addressing a full house at the Walker Theatre. Everyone in attendance knew one of the surprises he was referring to was his parting company with Fleetwood Mac.
Next to Mick Fleetwood, Buckingham was always my favorite. Sure I thought Stevie Nicks was hot at one point but the more and more I listened to Fleetwood Mac I realized he wrote most of my favorite songs of the band – and there are a lot to choose from. Fleetwood Mac is and always was a hot mess. You needed a scorecard at one point to keep up with the multiple breakups, hooks up and every kind of drama going through the band. As a kid I was oblivious to it, it was just awesome music. The more I read about it via many sources including band members the more I listened to the lyrics and had that, “Oh now I know what they’re singing about moment.” Buckingham added a feather to his cap with me by providing the theme to “National Lampoon’s Vacation”. I know no one who not only can make multiple quotes from the movie, but sing along as well. The song to me showed a lighter side to Buckingham because of all the serious work with the Mac.
Over the years members came and went from the band and eventually returned including Buckingham. But if it wasn’t for him and Nicks joining the band in the mid ‘70s, Fleetwood Mac would still be some little known blues act or biggest song made famous by someone else (“Black Magic Woman” – Santana). If it wasn’t for those two I might have never heard of Fleetwood Mac. They are as much of the band as their two founders from whom the band gets their name. Needless to say I wasn’t happy about the news he alluded to earlier. I don’t know the reason why; I just hope they didn’t take his contributions for granted the way I did until a few years ago.
Yeah, I love the Mac and I even like Buckingham’s solo work. To me he was always a great singer and songwriter. It wasn’t until a few years ago I realized I had taken something else for granted involving him. Lindsey Buckingham is a guitar god. I got to see he do an acoustic solo show a few years ago and couldn’t help but focus on his hands as he played guitar. There are a lot of great guitarists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and there are plenty of others that constantly have praised heaped upon them. Buckingham, in my humble opinion rates up there with the best ever. I never knew. I do know and have a greater appreciation now for his contributions to Fleetwood Mac but popular music in general.
This evening was no different. Buckingham was electric and came with a full band to perform. Buckingham was surprisingly talkative and entertaining. A lot of times someone fronting a band’s banter is just about the next song or the inspiration behind it and often trite. The singer looked to enjoy himself conversing with the crowd, as it seemed genuine and not forced.
After opening with “Don’t Look Down” and “Go Insane”, Buckingham after talking about it being a year of surprises let everyone know this was going to be basically a “best of” show or anthology. Sure enough one song after another that was highly recognizable came from the stage. Often again I found myself watching his hands as he put on a guitar clinic especially on songs like “Trouble”.
About halfway through the set he started to introduce his Fleetwood Mac songs. I wasn’t sure if he would do any with him leaving the band, but these were his songs and they are signature songs whether played by the band or solo. He did two songs back-to-back, first “Never Going Back Again” off of Rumour’s followed by “Big Love” off of Tango in the Night. Then it was back to solo material like “In Our Own Time” off of 2011’s Seeds We Sow. Of course I got giddy when he performed “Holiday Road” like a drunken frat guy. Hey, it’s okay to go down memory lane sometimes. And that was what the night was about anyway. The band then performed “Tusk”. Despite being a longtime fan of the band (although I never read that much about them on my own), I didn’t realize it was one of his compositions. The original had heavy percussion and I kind of credited it to Mick Fleetwood. It didn’t really matter to me. At the time I was hungry for new Fleetwood Mac material. It didn’t matter who wrote it. His band did a fine job with the song, but the percussion wasn’t as heavy as in the original, which in my humble opinion made the song. That was followed by “I’m So Afraid” from his first album with Fleetwood Mac (self-titled album) and then the song I consider their signature song (and a personal favorite), “Go Your Own Way” where his guitar work was showcased once again. After a small break he came out for a two-song encore of “Turn It On” and “Treason”.
It was interesting to watch the crowd this evening. When I saw him a few years ago the crowd was seated the whole time – kind of a sedate crowd. I guess it was appropriate. Of all the hundreds of rock shows I’ve been to that was the only one I’ve ever witnessed that. Not on this particular evening people were standing and one woman as pumping her arms in pure ecstasy. I get it. I was with you sister. Leaving the show I heard an older couple in front of me complaining about her flailing around. I just have a little advice for that couple – it’s okay to get old; just don’t act old. In Buckingham’s own words, just “go your own way”.
Lindsey Buckingham Setlist:
Don’t Look Down
Surrender the Rain
Not Too Late
Doing What I Can
I Must Go
Street of Dreams
Shut Us Down
Never Going Back Again (Fleetwood Mac song)
Big Love (Fleetwood Mac song)
In Our Own Time
Tusk (Fleetwood Mac song)
I’m So Afraid (Fleetwood Mac song)
Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac song)
Turn It On
– Dave Weinthal