May 6, 2012
Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
Thousand Oaks, CA USA
Review by Scott Dworkin
Photos by Scott Dworkin
Many things have been said and written about the history and legacy of Fleetwood Mac and especially Lindsey Buckingham. One thing you commonly don't read is the word underrated.
For those who play guitar, Buckingham plays a very peculiar, hybrid style technique that's extremely difficult to perform. He doesn't use a pick, instead preferring to use his fingers and fingernails, playing the guitar like one might play a banjo. Some refer to this method as 'chicken pickin''. His self taught style is something not typically seen in rock, and his distinctive sound helped set him apart from the many Fleetwood Mac guitarists before him. Never taking any formal guitar lessons, nor bothering to ever learn to read music, Buckingham's accomplishments - over 100 million albums sold - aren't too shabby.
"The small machine keeps getting smaller," joked Buckingham to the crowd gathered at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. He was making reference to the size of the audiences he's performed to over the years. "The Big Machine" obviously was Fleetwood Mac, which routinely sold out arenas and stadiums worldwide. "The Small Machine" was the many successful solo tours he has undertaken over the years with first a backing band, and tonight, just himself. With just a few amps and an array of acoustic guitars behind him, the machine was indeed, getting smaller.
There may be no better setting in which to witness the truly solo Buckingham than the Civic Arts Plaza. The cozy confines of the venue gave one and all the chance to appreciate the true talents Buckingham possesses. Not only is he an incredibly gifted guitar player, but a powerful vocalist and incredible songwriter as well. Throughout his 90-minute set, he alternated between the songs he made famous and his own intimate material. Classic rock staples like, "Never Going Back Again," "Big Love" and "Go Your Own Way" were seamlessly woven in with material from his solo outings, like "Trouble", even dipping back into the Buckingham Nicks catalog with "Stephanie". None of songs lost any of their power in the setting they were presented in. "Discard what is not essential," he encouraged the audience to do when listening to the music.
The true highlight of the night was the mesmerizing soaring guitar solo during the moody "I'm So Afraid". It brought the crowd to its feet. Buckingham ended the evening with a track from his latest solo effort "Seeds We Sow" to rousing applause. When it was all said and done, there was no doubt this bare knuckle approach by Buckingham, to present his music, was an excellent way for the audience to get an insight of his creative genius. Truly great songs start with a chord here or a tone created there. Tonight's audience was treated with a rare glimpse into how music is made before any type of machine, big or small, gets its hands on the material to transform the sound into something else. There was no better mind to 'mine' for this information than one of the great songwriters of our time.