Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Buckingham goes his own way in fine form

By ANDREW MARTON

Watching Lindsey Buckingham's first solo concert DVD, Live at the Bass Performance Hall, you reach the conclusion that the essence of his former band Fleetwood Mac was not Stevie Nicks' witchy-woman stylings, Christine McVie's blues-tinged singing, or even the granite back-beat of drummer, Mick Fleetwood and bassist, John McVie, but Buckingham's pioneering guitar work.

Released today, this concert DVD offers all 16 songs from Buckingham's Jan. 27, 2007 performance at Bass Hall, the Fort Worth stop on the guitarist-singer-songwriter's first extended U.S. solo tour in almost 14 years.

Whether on a nylon-string classical guitar, a steel-string acoustic or his trademark acoustic-electric guitar, Buckingham eschews the standard pick in favor of all five fingers of his right hand. There are close-ups of Buckingham's hands as they nimbly perform his distinctive guitar calisthenics.

All this intricate guitar work cocoons Buckingham's equally original vocals. Whether it's on the six cuts from the 2006 CD, Under the Skin, or songs dredged from his early solo period (the country-shuffle Holiday Road, Go Insane, Trouble) or, even further back, from the Fleetwood Mac catalog (Second Hand News,I'm So Afraid, Go Your Own Way, and Tusk), Buckingham's voice is in fine form.

As he moves from barely whispered verses to primal-scream choruses, you are reminded of how enigmatic and avant-garde he remains.

Hardly a Mr. Entertainment when it comes to amiable stage patter, Buckingham, helped by his backing trio, hits the concert's high points with the protracted guitar jams at the end of Fleetwood Mac's I'm So Afraid and Go Your Own Way. On each, Buckingham's left hand explores the outer limits of the fret-board while his right index finger flicks out one serrated note after another. Each solo ends with Buckingham in full mad-scientist mode, head thrown back, mouth agape, as he bangs his fists on the guitar.

The Bass Hall's crisp acoustics enhance the singer's embroidered harmonies, and the proximity of the stage to the audience creates an intimacy that he clearly relishes.

Buckingham seems so at home at the Bass that when he delivers the by-now-requisite "see ya next time" farewell, you believe he will make a return trip to Cowtown.

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