Saturday 1st October 2022
The Palladium Theatre, London
Former Fleetwood Mac guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and producer, Lindsey Buckingham, was about to embark on his first ever solo tour of the UK, albeit a rather short three date tour! With scheduled appearances at the prestigious London Palladium on 1st October before moving onto Glasgow’s SEC Armadillo on 3rd October and Liverpool’s Royal Philharmonic Hall on 4th October. Sadly, Glasgow and Liverpool were cancelled at the last minute due to Lindsey's ongoing illness. This tour was originally supposed to take place in May, but was postponed due to Buckingham contracting Covid! Further tragedy beset the rescheduled European dates when the first six shows were cancelled at the last minute due to Buckingham contracting a further bought of flu! It was a miracle that the London Palladium concert went ahead! As it turned out he only managed to play two shows on the European tour, Berlin and London.
Lindsey Buckingham is probably best known as being an integral member of the legendary Fleetwood Mac between 1975 - 1987 and 1997 - 2018. During that time, he has contributed to six studio albums and three live albums, acrimoniously leaving in 1987 before returning in 1997 then subsequently being fired in 2018! Buckingham started his musical career in 1967 when he formed the band Fritz with his then girlfriend Stevie Nicks. By 1972 Buckingham and Nicks left Fritz and recorded an album as a duo, simply titled ‘Buckingham Nicks’, released in 1973 on Polydor Records. As it failed to chart Polydor dropped them! On a twist of fate while investigating Sound City recording studio in California, Mick Fleetwood heard the song ‘Frozen Love’ from the 'Buckingham Nicks' album. Impressed, he asked who the guitarist was. By chance, Buckingham and Nicks were also in Sound City recording demos, and Buckingham and Fleetwood were introduced. When Bob Welch left Fleetwood Mac in December 1974, Fleetwood immediately contacted Buckingham and offered him the vacant guitar slot in the band. Buckingham told Fleetwood that he and Nicks come as a team and that he didn't want to work without her. Fleetwood agreed to hire both of them, without an audition. As luck would have it all five members hit it off immediately and the musical chemistry proved to be palpable. The band went on to worldwide fame and fortune with the release of a string of hugely successful studio albums including ‘Fleetwood Mac’ (1975), ‘Rumours’ (1977), ‘Tusk’ (1979), ‘Mirage’ (1982), ‘Tango in the Night’ (1987) and ‘Say You Will’ (2003). Buckingham released his first solo album ‘Law and Order’ in 1981, playing nearly every instrument and featuring guest appearances by Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie. A second solo album ‘Go Insane’ appeared in 1984. Both gained moderate chart success, but nothing like Fleetwood Mac status.
Buckingham acrimoniously quite Fleetwood Mac in 1987 after the release of the ‘Tango in the Night’ album, refusing to tour in support of the record and subsequent major bust-up with Stevie Nicks! After an extensive period of recuperation, his third solo album ‘Out of the Cradle’ finally hit the shelves in 1992. The album received some favourable reviews but did not achieve the sales levels associated with Fleetwood Mac. Not to be deterred, Buckingham toured the US throughout 1992–93 for the first time as a solo artist. Surprisingly, in 1997 the ‘Rumours’ era lineup of Fleetwood Mac reunited and went on the road for the first time together since 1982 in a reunion tour titled ‘The Dance’. The tour was hugely successful and did much to heal the damage that had been done between Buckingham and his bandmates. Sadly, Christine McVie left the band in 1998 because of her fear of flying and to be with her family in the UK, thus making the band now a foursome.
In 2003, the reformed band released the first studio album involving Buckingham and Nicks in fifteen years entitled ‘Say You Will’. The band subsequently went on a very successful world tour lasting a year and a half. In 2006, Buckingham's fourth solo album, an acoustic album entitled ‘Under the Skin’, was released. The album features Buckingham on almost all instruments, with the exception of two tracks that feature John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. His fifth studio album ‘Gift of Screws’ appeared in 2008, this time John McVie and Mick Fleetwood featured on three tracks. With the major success of recent Fleetwood Mac tours and with good vibes still remaining within the band they embarked on their extensive ‘Unleashed’ World tour in 2009. Upon completion of the tour Buckingham released his sixth solo album ‘Seeds We Sow’ in 2011. He had planned to conduct his first solo tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland in December of 2011. However, in early December, Buckingham cancelled all UK dates due to his guitarist suffering a back injury.
Miraculously, in 2013 relations within Fleetwood Mac were still on an even keel with the release of a four track EP ‘Extended Play’ and another world tour scheduled. Unexpectedly and quite by surprise, Christine McVie guested with them over two nights at The O2 Arena in London. This sowed the seed for her triumphant full time return to the band in 2014 and subsequent high grossing ‘On with the Show’ world tour which lasted almost two years. To capitalise on the renewed energy and enthusiasm within the band they started writing material for a proposed album only for Stevie Nicks to refuse to provide any new material as she wanted to keep her songs for her solo record. The resulting album was reluctantly released in 2017 under the ‘Buckingham McVie’ name rather than ‘Fleetwood Mac’! It did, however, make it to number 17 in the US and number 5 in the UK album charts.
Shockingly, in 2018 Buckingham was fired from the band due to in-house feuds and, apparently, refusing to commit to touring! In October 2018, Buckingham filed a lawsuit against Fleetwood Mac for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of oral contract and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage; the lawsuit was settled in December of the same year. Fleetwood Mac did eventually go on tour without Buckingham recruiting former Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and Neil Finn of Crowded House in his place. Despite the tour being a commercial success, it did nothing but tarnish the legacy of the band.
Tragically, in February 2019, Buckingham underwent emergency open heart surgery. Fortunately, he has made an almost full recovery and in 2021 went on to release his seventh solo album, simply titled ‘Lindsey Buckingham’. An extensive tour of the US followed with, for the first time ever, UK and European solo dates in 2022. Therefore, I was very fortunate to be able to attend, what turned out to be his only UK show at the London Palladium Theatre tonight. Although the venue was completely sold out months ago the effects of the national train strike saw many seats unoccupied as people failed to make it. The 90 minute show was scheduled to kick off at 8pm sharp with no support or interval. I actually just made it into the venue when Buckingham was halfway through the first song of the set, 'Not Too Late' from the 2006 'Under The Skin' album. An atmospherically dark and intense song with extremely fast and nimble acoustic guitar fingerpicking. How does he do that!
Buckingham's solo output is often seen as slightly less accessible than his Fleetwood Mac contributions, often eccentric and occasionally challenging! One thing that is certain is that he is a genius guitar player who never fails to impress and amaze. He is definitely in my top five guitar players of all time. The impressive 'In Our Own Time' from the 2011 'Seeds We Sow' album came next with its busy rhythm patterns and insistent schizophrenic guitar arpeggios. A slight departure from the angst ridden intensity followed in the form of 'Soul Drifter' from the 1992 'Out Of The Cradle' album. A nice upbeat melodic Pop tune that shimmied along nicely. Back to the intense numbers with 'Stars Are Crazy' from the 2011 'Seeds We Sow' album. Yet more transfixingly intricate guitar fingerpicking from the maestro. Occasionally it became clear that Buckingham was not yet fully fit and well when slight cracks appeared in his voice and his energy levels appeared to waver during certain song performances. However, he kept it going the best he could, after all, the show must go on! 'I Must Go' from the 1984 album 'Go Insane' appeared next and was my least favourite song of the set. It is a bit repetitive and doesn't seem to go anywhere musically. This was quickly followed by one of his best solo songs 'Doing What I Can' from the brilliant 1992 'Out Of The Cradle' album. An idiosyncratically absorbing song with thrillingly infectious guitar hooks and insistently pulsating rhythms that wouldn't be out of place on Fleetwood Mac's 1987 'Tango In The Night' album.
On to the solo acoustic mid-section with 'Shut Us Down' from the 2006 'Under The Skin' album. A captivatingly seductive song with long sustained breathy vocals that delicately floated over dreamy fingerpicked guitar arpeggios. The time seemed appropriate to roll out his biggest solo hit 'Trouble' from the 1981 debut album 'Law & Order' (the single managed to reach number 9 in the US and number 31 in the UK singles chart.) An irresistibly catchy Pop song that benefited from being played at a slower pace on acoustic guitar and without the 80s sounding drums (Mick Fleetwood played drums on the original recording). The excitement levels began to escalate when Buckingham dexterously played the intro to 'Never Going Back Again' from the 1977 Fleetwood Mac classic 'Rumours' album. Spellbindingly proficient guitar fingerpicking that left me mesmerised! That feeling continued with an enthralling version of 'Big Love' from the 1987 Fleetwood Mac album 'Tango In The Night'. Since he started doing this song as a solo performance on acoustic guitar back in 1997 it has taken on a life of its own. Completely different to the album version and more potent. Buckingham's blisteringly energetic performance is always a show stopper, inhabiting the song like a man possessed. Truly remarkable!
Back to the full band (Neale Heywood on guitars, Michael Kiyoka on keyboards and Jimmy Paxson on drums) for three new songs from Buckingham's 2021 self titled album. First up was the rather short and slightly bland 'Scream', before the much more appealing 'I Don't Mind'. A more straight forward commercial sounding Pop song with lush vocals and catchy guitar hooks. Sticking with that sensibility was 'On The Wrong Side'. Another of Buckingham's exuberant sounding productions. With the new stuff out of the way it was onto the last leg of the show for the big ones everybody was waiting for! 'Second Hand News' from the 1977 Fleetwood Mac classic album 'Rumours' delighted the masses before 'Tusk' from the 1979 Fleetwood Mac album of the same name hypnotically stomped its way to delirium. The big one for me has always been 'I'm So Afraid' from the 1975 'Fleetwood Mac' album, and it didn't disappoint. Another Buckingham showstopper and definite set highlight. The raw intense emotion is palpable and one can't help but be swept along with it. By the time the guitar solo soars most are crying! Definitely not played as fast or energetic as he has in the past, but that’s totally understandable given that he has recently undergone heart surgery and hasn't regained full health from Covid. Still mightily impressive though!
No Lindsey Buckingham show, or Fleetwood Mac show for that matter, would be complete without the classic 'Go Your Own Way' from the 1977 Fleetwood Mac masterpiece album 'Rumours'. This had everyone on their feet and dancing. Towards the end of the song Buckingham would usually extend the guitar solo to dizzying heights and then come to the front of the stage to allow audience members to strum his guitar while he holds down the chords. I have been extremely fortunate to have had the honour of strumming Lindsey's guitar on a couple of occasions when he played with Fleetwood Mac at Wembley Arena and The 02 Arena in London. Unfortunately, at this gig he cut the solo short and did not venture towards the front of the stage. Again, perfectly understandable given his current health circumstances. We were more than happy with what we got.
Fortunately, Buckingham wasn't going to let us go without an encore. Surprisingly, we were treated to 'Go Insane' from the 1984 album of the same name. This was a new addition to the current set and very welcome it was. When Buckingham performs this song live he will often deviate from the recorded version and take it to a higher level of intensity giving it a new lease of life. However, the performance we received at this gig was slightly more subdued, but none the less entrancing. The penultimate song was the charmingly beautiful ballad, 'Love Is Here to Stay', from the 2017 'Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie' album. Completing the evening’s proceedings was the delicately strummed 'Time', a cover of the Pozo-Seco Singers that also features on Buckingham's 2021 self titled album. A mellow ending to a very special and memorable gig.
Steven C. Gilbert.