I don’t know how I almost missed that Lindsey Buckingham was in town this weekend. My husband informed me on Thursday that he and another Buckinghamophile friend of his were planning hitting the Saturday night show at the Pantages. I felt a thump in my stomach. I couldn’t miss this show. Thankfully, the guys were eyeing some sixth-row seats through Tickets Now and there were three available. I was in.
First let’s talk venue. The Pantages is fabulous. At about 1,000 seats, it’s truly intimate. Plus, with a full liquor license and treat-you-like-adults mentality, you can bring your drink into the theater. Nice. Our trio was directly in front of Mr. Buckingham and his trio, and two rows in front of his beautiful (much younger) wife and their two tweener-age children. How did we know it was her? Hmmm. The rock star–looking wife walked to her seat from the front of the house with two young children, and upon taking their seats, all three inserted earplugs.
LB took to the stage solo about twenty minutes after the official 7:30 curtain call. The crowd responded with admiration—but at a level you would expect from a roughly thirty-five-to-fifty-five-year-old crowd that looked like KQ meets Cities97. Buckingham was hip and laid back. An aging boomer, he was confident, yet casual, donned in no-name jeans, black boots, loose-fitting black V-neck T-shirt (untucked), black leather jacket (slightly oversized), a simple silver chain with small pendant, and a wedding ring. This was definitely not an arena show. He picked up one of his signature custom guitars, stepped to the mike, and broke out into "Not Too Late," the first song from his new CD, Under the Skin, that was released last fall. His first solo work since Out of the Cradle, about fifteen years ago. (He said he’s working on another CD as well.)
Here’s the thing about Lindsey Buckingham: If you think it’s all about Rumours and Fleetwood Mac, you’ve missed the artistry of this man and his talents. The Fleetwood Mac we all know and love, though a sum of the parts, is deeply rooted in what Lindsey Buckingham brought to the table. He’s responsible for the FM sound. That voice is so embedded in our culture. A voice with such power that the Pantages could barely hold it. Add to that an amazing control of a guitar—my cohorts that evening likened LB’s five-finger playing style to that of Mark Knopfler’s—and an equally distinctive sound that’s as signature as that iconic voice. For me, one doesn’t exist without the other. I leaned to my husband toward the end of that first song and said, "I think I’m going to weep." I felt that way several times throughout the show. We all agreed, that voice is a weapon.
I neglected to bring a notebook and pen—so the order of things doesn’t play into my report. What did he play? Several from his new CD, which is greatly influenced by his life today, and that he spoke about onstage. Since the big Fleetwood Mac reunion tour, Buckingham has become a husband for the first time and father to three children. The emotion he has always brought to his music is that much more evident with these life-changing events. For me, the live experience was enhanced knowing that his wife and two (of his three) children were behind us. I felt the love. Really. (At the end of the show his wife and kids were already backstage. Buckingham played a solo song and as he approached the back of the stage, his son ran out and jumped into his arms. Killer.)
The pace of the show was perfect. This is a guy who knows how to work an audience. He’s mastered it at a much bigger level. A group of our size—peanuts. He wove enough Fleetwood Mac—"Monday Morning," "Never Going Back Again," "Go Your Own Way"—to keep all of us singing along. And when they launched into "Tusk" we were pretty much on our feet until the end of the show. I swear you could hear Christine McVie on "World Turning," though she obviously wasn’t there.
This was the kind of experience that you would see on VH1 and say “God, I wish I could see someone like that in a venue like that.” I’m confident it will remain on my top ten list of live shows forever.