“I’m someone who very much tends to want to keep looking forward, and not so much behind me. Certainly that served me very well this year,” singer-guitarist Lindsey Buckingham said from the stage during his show in New York City—a comment that was immediately followed by a reaction of cheers and applause from the audience. That remark is somewhat of an understatement given what had happened between him and his now-former band Fleetwood Mac after a much-publicized split earlier in the year. But to Buckingham’s credit, any lingering bitterness from what had recently transpired was not evident during this particular solo performance at the Town Hall. Rather, that show—and his current tour in general—represented a new and revitalized beginning for the veteran artist.
Even with the fame and success Buckingham had attained with the Mac, his solo music is rather under-appreciated. The recent release of Solo Anthology, a three-CD collection of Buckingham music outside of the Mac—from his 1981 solo debut Law and Order to last year’s collaborative Buckingham McVie album with Christine McVie—sought to remedy that oversight. That compilation showcased more of the experimental and daring side of Buckingham’s music (which could be traced to Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 masterpiece Tusk, the follow-up to the hugely popular Rumours) that didn’t necessarily conform to the commercial and pop-friendly nature of the parent group. Take a deeper look into his catalog, and one will find some of the most idiosyncratic, melodic and meticulously-produced rock/pop music from the last 37 years.
Like Solo Anthology, the Town Hall show in essence was a balanced and far-reaching overview of his career both as a solo artist and with Fleetwood Mac. Backed by a four-piece band, Buckingham kicked off the night with “Don’t Look Down”, from 1992’s Out of the Cradle, arguably his best solo album ever (If you have not yet heard it, please stop reading this recap and stream it now). In fact, a majority of the songs from the set list drew from that particular record, including “Surrender the Rain”, “Doing What I Can”, “Turn It On”, “Soul Drifter”, and the compelling and haunting “Street of Dreams”.
That wasn’t the only pleasant return: after performing stripped-down, rearranged takes of his ’80s solo hits “Trouble” and “Go Insane” from his previous tours, Buckingham refreshingly brought them back to their original full-band-sounding versions this time around at the Town Hall. The show seamlessly flowed from uptempo band rockers like “I Must Go”, “Holiday Road”, and “Slow Dancing”, to reflective yet dazzlingly-played numbers such as “Shut Us Down” and “Not Too Late”, where it was mostly just him and his guitar.
Of course, Buckingham played some of the songs he wrote for Fleetwood Mac alongside his solo material—among them “Never Going Back Again” (which he sang the verses in very whispery tones), the bombastic “Tusk”, and the dizzying and awe-inspiring solo version of “Big Love”. The showstoppers occurred near the end of the evening with the barn-burning “I’m So Afraid” and his signature “Go Your Own Way”, both performances offering plenty of Buckingham’s rip-roaring guitar. Interestingly, the show ended with the folk-sounding “Treason” from the 2008 Gift of Screws album. With its chorus of “Deep down there’s freedom / Deep down there will be a reason / At the end of the season / We will rise from this treason,” one can interpret the song’s inclusion as either a timely commentary on this current political climate, or a subtle take on what happened between himself and the Mac.
And it’s this sense of freedom and liberation that Buckingham conveyed through his inspired musical performances —which were many—during the set, as well his heartfelt and thankful remarks to the audience for their support. Already he had moved on, as he indicated that a new solo album is in the works. “It certainly has been a surprising year,” Buckingham admitted to the audience. “And we are making a new start.”