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Lindsey Buckingham at Celebrity Theatre, 10/12/11

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Linsdey Buckingham Celebrity Theatre Wednesday, October 12

"The small machine."

That's how Lindsey Buckingham described his solo work, comparing it to the "big machine" that is Fleetwood Mac. Buckingham was about halfway through a kind of extended monologue about the differences between his massive, stadium-touring collaboration with Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, and John McVie (Christine McVie no longer performs with the band), and his Celebrity Theatre-filling solo project, describing Fleetwood as a "big budget Hollywood film" and his solo work as an "independent," when the crowd got weird. Someone shouted, "That's why I love you" in response to something he said about Hollywood; a guy just screamed "Lindsey;" and someone shouted "Hi, Stevie!"

In the intimate confines of Celebrity (with the stage on its more dignified "non-rotating" setting), Buckingham seemed to relish a chance to get VH1 Storytellers-style intimate, revealing the nitty gritty of each song. But the crowd wasn't all that interested in that. They wanted bombast. They wanted rock 'n' roll. But most of all -- they wanted songs from the "Big Machine."

I don't mean to imply that people weren't interested in classic Buckingham solo material like "Go Insane" or "Trouble" -- both got big cheers, and the crowd reacted well to material from Buckingham's latest, Seeds We Sow.

But Buckingham was visually perturbed by the interruptions. "Hi, Stevie?" he sneered. "No, no, we all love Stevie very much, don't we?"

He tried to regain his thematic footing (Fleetwood Mac = Transformers III: Dark Side of the Moon, Lindsey Buckingham solo = some indie film with a huge budget?), but wasn't quite able to without the help of his band.

"I have the stage, but I don't know if I have the floor," be said. "I'm not even sure I have the stage."

Beyond the one stumble, he most definitely had the stage the rest of the night. Buckingham is a weird performer. Those goofy faces and struts he did on SNL? That's his normal thing, a sort of strange peacocking stomp across the stage, plenty of "weird face" guitar solos, and even some ceremonial chest beating.

There were some weird production, choices, too. "Tusk," from the Fleetwood Mac album of the same name was marred by an electronic horn section. "In Our Own Time" was similarly tasteless -- featuring electronic drums and bad keyboard tones while a live drummer just sort of manned the cymbals. Elsewhere, the band was aces; "Under the Skin," from the album of the same name, approached a shoegazing lushness, propelled by triple guitar work from Buckingham and the band.

Buckingham started the night out solo, following a few solo excursions with Fleetwood's "Never Going Back Again." He drew each phrase and breath out, almost screwing with the crowd's expectations.

He took a more traditional path with other Fleetwood hits. "Big Love" was, of course, the ridiculously guitar-righteous excursion people expected. "Second Hand News" rocked and "Go Your Own Way" was an extended guitar freakout that ended the set proper.

The energy would have been tough to top, and the band wisely didn't really try. The encore performance felt like bonus tracks. Performing "Treason" with the band, and the title track from Seeds solo, it felt more like a nightcap than the traditional "monster encore."

It was fitting. The crowd wanted Buckingham to rock, and he did. But Buckingham had some more intimate ideas in mind, too, even if he had to fight a little for them.

Setlist:

"Go Insane" "Trouble" "Never Go Back Again" "Big Love" "Under the Skin" "All My Sorrows" "In Our Own Time" "Illumination" "Second Hand News" "Tusk" "End of Time" "That's the Way Love Goes" "I'm So Afraid" "Go Your Own Way"

Encore

"Treason" "Seeds We Sow"

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Lindsey Buckingham at Celebrity Theatre

The Crowd: People who did the whole "growing old" thing with tact and style. Random Notebook Dump: This place smells like popcorn.

Stray Observation: Celebrity Theatre feels like a different venue every time I'm in it.

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