Lindsey Buckingham was more interesting without Fleetwood Mac at The Egg on Wednesday than Fleetwood Mac ever was, with or without him.
When he left Fleetwood Mac (1987-97), it took two guitarists to replace him: Rick Vito and Billy Burnette. (He told Rolling Stone recently that he expects a Fleetwood Mac reunion soon.) In other words, he plays twice as much as most guitar players; and he filled The Egg’s Hart Theater on Wednesday with notes during the early, solo portion of his nearly two-hour, straight-through show.
He came onstage alone, still slim in jeans and leather jacket, his graying hair now further north than in the Big Mac’s heyday. “Shut Us Down” showed what a dramatic, dynamic guitarist he is — singer, too, from whisper to shout. “Go Insane” did so slowly, from a quiet baroque start to siren vocal and slashing guitar chords. “Trouble” similarly built big waves that receded and returned. “Never Going Back” had a warm folkie feel to start, then blew up into a defiant stun-strum guitar blast and vocal to match. He explained how “Big Love” had grown, since 1987 when he defended himself against love, into a celebration of it, grunting wordless exclamations and striking guitar-god poses.
If the solo, five-song start displayed tremendous one-man-band chops, his band unleashed his inner 15-year-old as they joined him in “Under the Skin” and 12 more songs. They replicated the booming heft of Fleetwood Mac songs and the precision of his solo album songs, which he records for himself with slow perfectionism.
“All My Sorrows” provided both an early peak and a reflection of Buckingham’s love for the Beach Boys. The hard, insistent picking of the new “In Our Own Time” and “Illumination” liberated the initially reserved Buckingham into cutting loose, both in his playing and end-of-song loud “Yeahs!” He and the band were all-business in “Tusk,” focused on recreating the majesty of Fleetwood Mac’s massive recording, but Buckingham rode its groove to the front of the stage in a sizzling solo.
After the bold dynamics of his opening solo sequence, some full-band songs felt a bit monochromatic — “The End of Time” and “The Way Love Goes,” especially. But they revved up “I’m So Afraid” with harmony guitars by Buckingham with Neil Haywood as Brett Tuggle threw down a thunderous bass line and drummer Walfredo Reyes kept the pulse pounding. “Go Your Own Way,” of course, provided a very big finish, priming the crowd (two-thirds filling the larger theater) to scream for encores.
“Turn it On” and “Treason” rocked full blast but Buckingham sang “Seeds We Sow” — the title track of his new solo album — in the same solo fireworks fashion as his first five tunes.
Buckingham succeeded in right-sizing songs from Fleetwood Mac (he called it the big machine) to The Egg and a high-impact, hot-riffing but compact band (the small machine). The production fit, too — crystal-clear sound and lighting that distracted a bit at first because it was so unusual. By going his own way, while Fleetwood Mac is inactive, Buckingham delivered a very satisfying small-band, medium venue show.
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