November 16, 2018
With a simple nod to the audience and a quick adjustment of the microphone, Lindsey Buckingham launched into an energetic rendition of "Don't Look Down" from the 1992 solo album Out Of The Cradle. Immediately on its heels without a poetic introduction was the 1984 studio version of "Go Insane". It was after this piece that Buckingham finally took to the microphone and addressed his audience at the Centre in the Square, in Kitchener, ON, Canada, with vim and vigour: "Thank you all for coming and spending the evening with us tonight. Now we are here for... well... a couple of reasons. But the main reason is that Warner Brothers had been wanting to, and now has finally, released a compilation anthology of my solo work. And, you know, being someone who tends to want to keep looking forward and not behind..." Buckingham went on to say that he was "pleasantly surprised at how current, how modern so much of it still sounds" and that it was "quite a catharsis for me curating the package and putting it together".
"Surrender to the Rain" featured voice-altering techniques applied to the backing vocals that were reminiscent of the harmonies obtained with the vocal blending of former Fleetwood Mac bandmates Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie. Although the overall result musically was complimentary to the piece, voice manipulation always leaves me a bit leery and apprehensive about the remaining vocals. Are the vocals that we're hearing true to form, or do they only sound that way?
One of the biggest highlights of the evening was witnessing the unique correspondence only Buckingham can conjure from guitars. This was brilliantly executed in "Not Too Late" through the usage of extraordinary fingerpicking, powerful and often guttural vocals, and meticulously crafted reverberation effects. The end result created crisp accentuations of unwavering arpeggiation. The addition of slight synthesizer and bass accompaniment with minimal cymbal usage created a very ethereal and atmospheric rendition that far exceeded the original studio version.
Going a step further, "Street of Dreams" was stripped down to just an acoustic bass, provided by Federico Pol, and Buckingham's acoustic guitar. The audience immediately embraced the piece by being exceptionally attentive. You could hear a pin drop during the phrase “He said never, never, never”. There was a substantial sense of intimacy between artist and audience, as another strong vocal performance from Buckingham strategically balanced rich emotional strain with articulate finesse.
At this point, Buckingham addressed his audience once again, stating: "It's a beautiful venue with a beautiful view, and beautiful people in it... ...But really the true healing is all of you that have come out to witness this and to be a part of it. It's been certainly a surprising year and we are making a new start. And all you being here to support me, that means a great deal, so we thank you for coming".
As Federico Pol left the stage, we were left with an unadorned canvas. It was simply Buckingham, his guitar, and a spotlight before us. "Shut Us Down" exhibited a balance of light and strong fingerpicking with ardent vocals. There is no denying that Buckingham's vocals remain in top form, and arguably stronger than ever. They were expressive, bold, and 100% Buckingham. This version of "Shut Us Down" was different from any other rendition I have previously witnessed. It maintained an exceptional balance of melody and harmony in the guitar alone, which was then amplified by a superlative usage of guitar reverberation. The level of vocal supremacy Buckingham conveyed was immeasurable. You could feel it in the heart, not just emotionally, but musically as well. For the first time in the show, a standing ovation was achieved. Buckingham took it all in, holding his hands over his heart, and bowed.
During "Never Going Back Again", Buckingham maintained a similar breathy approach that he has previously utilized on past tours. With the continuity of an isolated Buckingham on stage, the sense of intimacy persevered. The guitar solo was significantly lengthier than previous live renditions and featured more intricate guitar flourishes. Similarly, the delivery of the vocal lines were slowed drastically and scrupulously executed with care and precision. It was eminent that Buckingham was demanding the attention of the audience with every articulation. The audience willingly obliged and remained eerily still for the majority of the piece. The only reaction from the audience was voiced after the line: “Never going back again”. Given the current situation between Buckingham and his former bandmates, perhaps that particular line carried a little more credence for both Buckingham and his audience than it had previously. Only time will tell…
Following on the heels of this Fleetwood Mac cover was another, "Big Love". The vocals remained dominant, and a crowd began to form at the front. The band returned for "In Our Time", which prompted people to start dancing in the aisles. This was followed by "I'm So Afraid". To my surprise, the keyboardist Brett Tuggle was playing guitar instead of reproducing the iconic Hammond organ sound that played such a pivotal role in the depth of the original. Similarly, no backing vocals were applied, the tempo was also slightly slower, and the drums, played by Jimmy Paxson, were not as protuberant as the original version. The instrumentation didn’t fill the room as I had anticipated and I sensed lost potential. There was, however, a great guitar tone used throughout the solo that was considerably grittier with more bottom end than the original version. Another passionate guitar solo closed the piece with vigorous guitar slapping and extended rhythm changes that welcomed the show's finale, "Go Your Own Way".
The encore consisted of two solo songs, "Turn It On" and "Treason", with a very heartfelt band introduction in-between by Buckingham. I personally found "Treason" to be a weak ending to an otherwise ecstatic show. Although it would have been nice to hear certain gems like "Stephanie" and "Don't Let Me Down Again" from the 1973 classic album Buckingham Nicks, we were indulged with five Fleetwood Mac tracks. The majority of pieces, however, came from the Out of the Cradle album. Throughout the evening there was a great balance of electric and acoustic, which ultimately reflected audience solidarity with performer intimacy. It will be interesting to see how things will unfold between Buckingham and his former band Fleetwood Mac. But regardless of the future outcomes, be as they may, it is definitely worth catching Buckingham, regardless of who he's playing with. His vocals remain remarkable, and his unique approach to fingerpicking has only advanced with age.
This Is The Time to see Lindsey Buckingham.
Don’t Look Down
Go Insane (Original 80s Version)
Surrender The Rain
Not Too Late
Doing What I Can
I Must Go
Street Of Dreams
Shut Us Down
Never Going Back Again
In Our Own Time
I’m So Afraid
Go Your Own Way
Turn It On
For more photographs from the Lindsey Buckingham concert, please visit the Photography section of the site, or simply Click Here.
All photos were captured by Tony Howard and edited by me.