Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac performs at Madison Square Garden in New York in 2009.
“Always leave them wanting more,” is a time-tested showbiz adage, but there’s such a thing as taking even good advice too much to heart. Such was the case Friday night at the Pageant, where once-and-(presumably) future Fleetwood Mac guitarist and sonic auteur Lindsey Buckingham put in a brilliant but exceedingly brief night’s work.
Clocking in at a mere 75 minutes, the show found Buckingham performing without the support of a backing band or even an opening act. Neither factor is a fault in itself. It’s often preferable at concerts to dive right into the headlining set; and solo shows can sometimes offer insights into heavily layered studio creations such as Buckingham’s by stripping them bare.
So that much was fine. But the show was billed as “an evening with” Buckingham, and it was hardly that.
For the time he was onstage, however, Buckingham burned brightly, delivering dazzling guitar work and singing each song with energy and intensity.
He spoke between songs of the alternating currents of his career: the “big machine” of Fleetwood Mac versus the “small machine” of his solo work. The two have come to balance, inform and depend on each other, he said. But he wryly noted that his first solo tour featured a 10-piece band and now he’s on his own. “The small machine is getting smaller,” he said.
Buckingham played favorites and relative obscurities from both the big machine and the small one. From the latter group, “Not Too Late” was an impassioned plea for the relevance of his solo work, which often gets lost in the Mac’s long shadow. “Go Insane,” started slowly and deliberately but became appropriately manic toward the end. One of the set’s surprises was “Stephanie,” a nimble instrumental from the pre-Mac “Buckingham-Nicks” album.
But the Mac songs tended to outshine the solo material, from the hits “Big Love” and “Go Your Own Way” to the guitar workout “I’m So Afraid” and the exquisite acoustic number “Never Going Back Again.”
When Buckingham said during the encore that he was going to play just one more song, the crowd’s negative reaction prompted him to say, “How quickly they turn on you.” But he should have expected it. The show was terrific, but simply too short.
“Cast Away Dreams”
“Bleed to Love Her”
“Not Too Late”
“Shut Us Down”
“Never Going Back Again”
“I’m So Afraid”
“Go Your Own Way”
“Seeds We Sow”