Story and Photo by Scott Smith
In 10 seconds, most rock guitarists would lose a six-string shoot-out against Lindsey Buckingham.
The guitarist, singer and songwriter with Fleetwood Mac is an artistic monster on the stage, and as brilliant as his finger-picking rhythm patterns and searing lead breaks are on the Mac’s “Rumours” and “Tusk” albums and on his studio work, it’s seeing and hearing the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s nimble fingers and thumbs in person that truly is an astounding experience.
Buckingham and his solo band showed no hints of fatigue or road burnout when they played their final U.S. date of Buckingham’s Seeds We Sow Tour at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s Joint on Nov. 14, 2011, near Tulsa, Okla. At age 62, Buckingham still fires off guitar parts to retain his title in the world’s Top Three Living Guitarists Club.
Wearing a dark leather jacket and blue jeans and sporting, as usual, rock’s greatest hair, Buckingham performed music from his latest CD, “Seeds We Sow,” with some of the new tracks (“In Our Own Time,” “Stars Are Crazy” and “Seeds We Sow”) showcasing Buckingham’s melodic, on-going tip of the hat to Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson, while Fleetwood Mac favorite “I’m So Afraid” handed Buckingham a wide-open canvas to slash furiously at his guitar.
“Trouble,” Buckingham’s minor hit from 1981, took on a slower rhythm and gained beauty, as did “Under the Skin,” while “Go Insane,” like it has since Fleetwood Mac’s 1997 tour, took shape in haunted, acoustic-guitar form. “Go Your Own Way,” a tune that defies wear and tear from near-constant radio play, summoned some of Buckingham’s greatest solos of the evening.
At first, much of the crowd seemed a bit sedate, even during Buckingham’s trademark, one-man take of Fleetwood Mac’s brooding “Big Love,” but when the galloping rhythm commenced for the equally great “Second Hand News,” all ages were on their feet, wiggling to Buckingham’s fluttering guitar sound and the backing band’s succinct instrumental play.
Even though “Tusk” seemed a bit early in the set — the Fleetwood Mac staple arrived about 3/4 through the two-hour show — the song gained stronger legs in the concert setting. After singing the song’s initial hushed vocal parts, Buckingham let his famous vocal howl gush for the song’s final two minutes before playfully stomping across the stage, thrashing about his electric guitar.
Buckingham’s performance, just like his effort with Fleetwood Mac at Tulsa’s BOK Center in 2009 and during his solo shows at the Brady Theater in 2007 and 2008, almost always was spot-on inside the Hard Rock. Watching Buckingham tear out solos, gently stroke quieter chord patterns and sing the tribal-like “Tusk” as if a man possessed comprise a can’t-miss event.
While witnessing Buckingham command the stage, it’s so easy to see why Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood would do anything, way back at the end of 1974, to get Buckingham to join his band. Fleetwood was so desperate to get Buckingham to join, he relented to the guitarist’s “package” demand that Fleetwood Mac also hire Buckingham’s then-girlfriend, a pre-famous singer-songwriter named Stevie.