I can’t say that I ‘miss’ being in Fleetwood Mac, as I’ve been concentrating on fulfilling my own plans that were already in the works before the split happened. So, in a sense, the situation is still too new to miss, especially since I don’t have much regard for the way the band is presenting itself now.
What I’m sad about is the split completely dishonors the beautiful 43-year legacy we built together, one that was always about rising above our difficulties in order to pursue a higher truth.
–Lindsey Buckingham, via Twitter, January 7, 2019.
He was having fun: Bantering with the band, inviting fans in the front row to strum his guitar, and baying a few of his trademark yelps after songs. Nonetheless, a palpable mix of sadness and resolve that only occasionally coalesced in words was percolating throughout. He never mentioned Fleetwood Mac by name, but in his narratives between songs it was clear: They’d dealt him a terrific blow. Being fired from the band had left him grappling with his identity.
But, aside from a trace of hoarseness in his voice, Mr. Buckingham’s showmanship and musical chops were far from atrophied. Not even the tiny confines of Town Hall could pacify the natural stadium rocker. In typical fashion, he began the evening with less combustible tunes, as if trying to defer to the scale of the venue. But, as usual, keeping his manic energy in check proved a fruitless ambition.
As he ran through the fourth number of his set — the acoustic “Not Too Late” — he abandoned restraint. Something in the speed of his fingerpicking, the more time he took between breaths, the longer he stretched out lyrics jolted him free. The crowd welcomed it, cheering inaudibly: Now this is who we came to see! And when returning to their seats, you could almost sense the collective relief: Our boy is back! Whatever damage his old band inflicted hadn’t defeated his excitable persona.
Of course Mr. Buckingham delivered his signature tunes: the delicate “Never Going Back Again” [Fleetwood], a full-throttle “Tusk” [Fleetwood], the scorching “Go Your Own Way” [Fleetwood], the primal “Big Love” [Fleetwood], and the peerless “I’m So Afraid” [Fleetwood]; the latter loaded with a climax of high-octave hammer ons, a complement of rocking back and forth with his guitar, and a finale of applause that triggered the house lights and had him placing his hand on heart in real gratitude for the reception.
In between, he loosened things up with solo hits like the raucous “Holiday Road” and a tender reading of “Trouble,” but the best of his catalog could be found in the performances of “Shut Us Down” and “Down on Rodeo.” His acoustic fret work on these was mesmerizing, and often belied the deep melancholy behind such beauty. But it didn’t overwhelm his show. In fact, it felt rebellious and very rock n’ rock to share that emotion. After all, here he was determined to play whatever he wanted to an appreciative, sold out house while Fleetwood Mac was very publicly ignoring his contributions and touring the world without him. Talk about fortitude.
Perhaps Mr. Buckingham best summarized why he was carrying on alone with his music during the final song of the night — called “Treason” — when he revealed
Deep down there’s freedom.
Deep down there will be a reason.
At the end of the season,
We will rise from this treason.
Lyrics from “Treason” by Lindsey Buckingham, 2008.
Photos by Rick Stachura. Mr. Buckingham on his Solo Anthology Tour at Town Hall. December 4, 2018.
With Michael Kianka (keyboard), Brett Tuggle (keyboard), Federico Pol (bass), and Jimmy Paxson (drums).