Lindsey Buckingham 10.19.08
Nokia Theatre – New York, NY
Words by: Martin Halo
Images by: Rod Snyder
The Nokia Theatre stood quiet and almost still. The usual open floor was packed with assigned seating in an effort towards elegance and intimacy. White wine flowed instead of the usual hand rolled joints, and security was tight. No dancing, no standing and no camera phone picture taking. The lights quickly fell and Sunday service with Lindsey Buckingham was about to begin.
The first time I was turned onto the music of Lindsey Buckingham, outside of Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” at Clinton’s inaugural ball, was at the hands of photographer Rod Snyder. Kicking and screaming, he dragged me to The Fillmore at the Theatre of Living Arts on Philadelphia’s South Street in the spring of 2007, while Buckingham was supporting Under the Skin. I was always a Peter Green man myself, but what I saw that evening was a stunning display of musicianship and the core essence that fueled the multi-platinum success of Fleetwood Mac.
I left understanding the full potential of Buckingham’s legend, and why musicians from all walks of life are overwhelmed by the phrasings and compositions that are littered throughout his career, not to mention his stunning contributions to Rumours (1977). It has been close to two years since that night in Philadelphia and as the holiday of ghouls and goblins descended upon New York City, Buckingham made the stroll across the Hudson River into the heart of Times Square for the finishing date of the Gift of Screws Tour.
Originally squashed because of label concerns in the later part of the 1990s, the original sessions for his latest album included material that was used as part of Mac’s reunion, including “Red Rover.” Finally, in September of 2008, Warner Bros. released the pressing to the public. The cast of characters remained the same, Buckingham (vox/guitar), Neil Haywood (guitar), Alfredo Rayes (drums) and Brett Tuttle (bass/guitar/keys), but the tense New York City crowd and arrangements of the repertoire made for a different experience.
Emerging in a thinly cut leather jacket, Buckingham finger-picked his way through supporting tracks off Screws, starting with “Do You Miss Me?” The new selections were of a popular nature and before the acoustic portion of the evening Buckingham unleashed a full band version of “Go Insane” and “Trouble.”
The electric version of “Go Insane,” was a welcome and comforting point of the early set but lacked the emotion and grasp of the solo acoustic version Buckingham was giving audiences in 2007. Requests were shouted from the audience but the ooze of artist mojo and audience connection wasn’t perfectly aligned this evening. Security sat dancers back in their seats and kept a very close watch over the audience.
The acoustic section mid-set opened up with some story telling. “Look Out For Love,” “Under the Skin” and “World Turning” all made appearances. Buckingham built the set around the culmination of the dark, hypnotic “I’m So Afraid,” where a mesmerizing musical interlude hooked the listener before Buckingham constructed elevated phrasing on top of the initial progression. As he made his way to stage right and pushed the notes higher and higher up the fretboard, the powder keg release that was present with the Philadelphia audience 18 months earlier was given only a tepid reaction in New York. The room just didn’t explode on cue and that was not because of Buckingham’s playing. I think it was a factor of the band trying to bring the crowd there, and an uncertainty from the audience if it was appropriate to really let loose.
The release finally came during “Go Your Own Way,” but by then it was too late. “Treason” capped the encore. Buckingham’s vocal and musical performance was impressive but lacked connective energy with New York’s audience. There were no panties being thrown onstage or invites back to the hotel this time.