Going At It His Own Way: Lindsey Buckingham Blazes New Live Trails

Lindsey Buckingham totally owned New York's Town Hall this past Tuesday night. Though it was an early stop on a fall tour supporting his sixth solo album Seeds We Sow, Buckingham was in fine fighting form mixing his more reflective, chance-taking solo material with long-embedded Fleetwood Mac classics.

This was my seventh sojourn to an LB solo show. His first Town Hall gig, complete with a literal guitar armada, was on March 31, 1993, in support of the brilliant Out of the Cradle, still one of my system-audition benchmark discs. A decade-plus later, he hit Town Hall on October 10, 2006 to share the acoustic-driven Under the Skin. Wherever and whenever I've seen him, he's always been riveting, intense, and driven - just as he was on Tuesday, from my 10th row just-a-hair-left-of-center vantage point. And Town Hall's wonderful artist-friendly acoustics well-suited the ebb and flow of this fabulous 100-minute set.
 
I broke my longstanding always-wear-earplugs rule from the moment LB stepped onstage alone around 8:20 p.m., brandishing an acoustic guitar. He interspersed dramatic solo tracks like the set-opening irony of "Shut It Down" with more familiar fare like "Never Going Back Again," the latter enhanced by a new fingerpicked intro.  
 
Speaking of, LB's fingerpicking style is a unique flail-jangle that is a pure marvel to watch, whether he's going at it alone acoustically on "Go Insane" and "Big Love" or blazing away electrically with full band in tow during strum-und-drang attacks on Mac perennials "I'm So Afraid" and "Go Your Own Way." (However, he did have a pick in his strumming hand for one of the encores, "Treason," from 2008's Gift of Screws.) 
 
The set breathed masterfully, moving from pin-drop solo turns to the the right mix of new (a driving "Illumination" and "The Way That Love Goes") and old (Cradle deep cuts "All My Sorrows" and "Turn It On"). As Lindsey told me in our current S+V Interview, "You can't just go out there and play all new stuff or even mostly new stuff; you've gotta find a balance and a context. Over a period of time, I've been able to find songs that succeed with just me and a guitar, so that becomes an element which I can now do with a certain density. I think of the body of work I have as assets. So hopefully we can make a set that hangs together in context. The show has the spirit of something new." 
 
The aural rewards of such a freshly realized spirit makes this tour worth catching. And If I can go at it my own way, I'll be seeing LB live again real soon.
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