Lindsey Buckingham at the Howard Theatre

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, June 16, 2012

I can’t remember how long it has been since I last went to a seated show, but it is always nice to be able to sit and be able to focus entirely on what is happening onstage. This time around I was seeing Lindsey Buckingham, who most people are familiar with from his work with Fleetwood Mac. But Buckingham has also established himself as a talented solo artist capable of creating interesting material without the assistance of a full band. His progression has taken numerous steps, first touring with a large crew of backing musicians and on this most recent set of dates opting to perform without any support. His set at the Howard Theatre in Washington D.C. lasted for about an hour and fifteen minutes after a two song encore, and while this may have been one of the first times he was letting his guitar and vocal work stand on its own Buckingham showcased that he was well prepared.

Buckingham took the stage without a word and immediately began playing, going through some familiar material that filled the theatre with melody. The earlier numbers were some of his mellower tracks, and being up close it was easy to observe the way that Lindsey was playing his instrument and how it resulted in the breathtaking sounds. After a few songs he finally addressed the audience, talking about the difference between the “big machine” (Fleetwood Mac) and the “small machine” (his solo work) and how he had finally struck a true balance between the two. This was evident not just from what he was saying, but from his overall stage presence for the entire performance. One element that impressed me was the number of guitars being utilized throughout, as a guitar tech was on hand at the side of the stage switching off instruments for Lindsey on every song and I don’t think that there were very many songs in a row that used the same guitar. For those who might be wondering, even though he may be 62 Lindsey Buckingham doesn’t sound as though he has aged at all and he was still able to reach some higher ranges that I didn’t know he was still capable of doing. This was most evident during some of the Fleetwood Mac songs that were performed when the guitar and vocal work soared to a much louder volume than you would have expected from a show of this nature. Although the focus was put on Buckingham’s solo work, he did slip in more Fleetwood Mac tracks into the set than I predicted and this fit what he was talking about earlier in the show about finding a balance between the two. The performance lasted for about an hour with very little time in between songs, as aside from the opening statement the audience was only addressed a few more times which gave time for more material to be played. A two song encore brought the total time up to about 75 minutes or so, and it felt appropriate that the show ended with “Seeds We Sow”, which is the title track from Buckingham’s last solo album.

Solo performances can be hit or miss, as when the audience is focusing entirely on one person’s contributions they have to be able to play flawlessly while also keeping everyone’s attention. But Lindsey Buckingham’s clearly still got it as his performance was technically proficient (and I noticed that he helped keep himself in time with a metronome counting off before many of the songs just to be sure) and the songs had so much energy that the audience seemed to be hanging on every note. Whether you’re overly familiar with his solo efforts or just like Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham’s solo tour is worth experiencing as he has proven himself to be more than capable outside of the confines of a large band.

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