Lindsey Buckingham / Oct. 24, 2006 / Chicago (Park West)
In the documentary "Destiny Rules," the mostly warts-and-all making of Fleetwood Mac's last album "Say You Will," there's a telling moment when Mick Fleetwood politely asks Lindsey Buckingham if he miIn the documentary "Destiny Rules," the mostly warts-and-all making of Fleetwood Mac's last album "Say You Will," there's a telling moment when Mick Fleetwood politely asks Lindsey Buckingham if he might consider steering the sessions in a more commercial direction. Buckingham, in so many words, tells him to take a hike.
Fleetwood was right to be deferential. Since joining the band in the mid-'70s and helping it achieve massive success, Buckingham has remained an inextricable component of the veteran act, to such an extent that the past few Fleetwood Mac albums have, by his and the band's own admission, often comprised ported over material his own independent works in progress. But Fleetwood was also right to be wary, since left to his own devices Buckingham might just as well spend years in the studio, noodling with and tweaking his tracks with little or no concern for the demands of commerce.
Buckingham's latest solo album, "Under the Skin," arrived 14 years after his last, and it, too, features several songs both leftover from Fleetwood Mac sessions as well as earlier sidetracked Buckingham projects. But at the Park West on Oct. 24, the first of two intimate shows, Buckingham underscored how all his songs, whether decades or months old, stem from the same creative place -- sometimes strange, often beautiful, but never boring.
Songs like "Show You How" and "It Was You" vied with a welcome selection of Mac tracks, classics and overlooked gems alike. In the latter category were several songs from 1979's "Tusk," an album that laid the groundwork for Buckingham's idiosyncratic but unfailingly inventive solo career, not just the title track but the giddy pop of "I Know I'm Not Wrong" and the Eno-referencing "Save Me a Place."
Songs dated by their '80s production excesses were given a new life stripped down, particularly Buckingham's near-hits "Trouble" and "Go Insane" but also the Mac smash "Big Love." And yet the same guy who wrote those neurotic nuggets also wrote such direct ballads as "Never Going Back Again" and "Bleed To Love Her," which as performed offered a hushed respite from his frenetic fingerpicking and strumming.
It says a lot about Buckingham's show that the most traditional moment of the set -- the epic guitar solo that ended "I'm So Afraid" -- was also the most out of place. It was the type of grand arena gesture that, with Buckingham backed by a pared-down trio, never quite took off, but should work well when Buckingham reportedly hits the road again next year in support of what he's deemed his in-progress "rock" record.
As if Buckingham would ever release something that pat. There's only one type of record the guy puts out -- Lindsey Buckingham records -- and watching him in the flesh merely emphasized how few quixotic visionaries out there actually pursue a vision worth waiting for.