Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lindsey Buckingham - Seeds We Sow live and on CD

When I first started buying records and tapes, listening to music intently beyond just what was on the radio, one of the first bands that I got a lot of was Fleetwood Mac. My best friend's parents had bootlegged HBO off a satellite dish and I asked them to make a recording of the Mirage tour concert for me. They did and I became a Fleetwood Mac super fan.

That taped concert made a huge impression on me on what I thought rock music was. Lindsey Buckingham in particular had an impact because he was the lead guitarist and singer (and later I'd find out producer, songwriter, artist, and so on). The way he played guitar (no pick), the herky jerky body language (like the air humping thing he does when he solos on "I'm So Afraid")...I just thought that was what all rock stars did. I didn't realize it was something unique to him.

Now decades later I've learned that Lindsey Buckingham is a unique talent and I've been a fan of both his solo work and Fleetwood Mac. This was my first time seeing Buckingham live on his own. I got held up at work and was late for the show, so the set list from what I saw was:

Go Insane / Trouble / Never Going Back Again / Big Love / Under The Skin / All My Sorrows / In Our Own Time / Illumination / Second Hand News / Tusk / Stars Are Crazy / End Of Time / That's The Way Love Goes / I'm So Afraid / Go Your Own Way
encore: Turn It On / Treason / Seeds We Sow

Napa's Uptown theater was pretty much a sold out crowd and they were pumped for a rock show. So pumped there was dancing in the aisle and random shouts of "Yeah!" during the acoustic first half. Buckingham wisely front loaded his hits at the start. Performing alone with his guitar and Art Garfunkel haircut, Buckingham was able to reveal added levels of desperation and wistfulness to his familiar tunes like "Trouble" and "Go Insane".

After "Big Love" a three man band joined Buckingham on the stage to allow for more of a band performance. With a lot of momentum built up the set list alternated between his pure solo stuff and remaining Mac hits to make sure no one got bored. Not that boredom is an option at Uptown, the small converted movie theater makes for a more intimate setting where people can yell things at the performer and actually get a response (like when some guy yelled "How many guitars you got?" between songs and Buckingham replied "Too many").

"All My Sorrows" was a major treat for me, Out Of The Cradle is one of my all time favorite albums by anybody anywere. It was nice to drink in the languid tone and pretty melody during live performance. His new disc Seeds We Sow was strongly represented with six songs performed live and in a switch from the norm, the audience seemed to enjoy new material. "In Our Own Time" in particular thrived with Buckingham stooping down for his jagged little guitar fills. Also away from the norm, the crowd seemed to appreciate the artist's abilities beyond being a human jukebox, revelling in Buckingham's intricate guitar work (so intricate he has to shake his hand loose before many songs. Repetetive motion injury?) and howling vocals.

That appreciation is probably why the place went ape shit when Buckingham went full throttle into a classic rock smash like "Second Hand News". It was one of those perfect concert moments where the audience and performer feed off each other as Buckingham's insistent "Do it! Do it! Do it!" in between "bom bom bom bom"s increased in intensity. Buckingham reached out to his fans now, pointing at some dancers and shaking hands with the front row. The extended solo at the end of "I'm So Afraid" gave us the guitar God moment, ending with women literally grabbing at his legs. And how could "Go Your Own Way" not go over well?

After firing off all his major hits I wondered if there would be an encore and if there was would it include "Holiday Road". The answer turned out to be yes and no. Got another treat in form of the Out Of The Cradle track "Turn It On" before discovering a new appreciation for "Treason" off the Gift Of Screws album. Buckingham ended the evening solo acoustic on "Seeds We Sow".

Concert Rating:

Lindsey Buckingham's new disc Seeds We Sow arrived with some minor buzz around it a few months ago. Most of that buzz was about it being self released and sounding under produced. When I first played the album, I thought it was under produced too initally but have found Seeds We Sow to be a -wait for it - slow grower. Where Lindsey Buckingham's work can often be described as lush or layered, Seeds We Sow has an approach closer to Fleetwood Mac's Tusk where the music was stripped down to guitar, bass, voice and drums.

After playing this in my car a few weeks, the each of the songs started to resonate more. On initial listen I enjoyed the 80s pop flavored "Illumination" and the speedy "One Toke Over The Line" influenced "One Take". The electric version of the title track (an Amazon bonus cut) also sounded great. It was the slower numbers that took time to appreciate. "End Of Time" has become one of my favorite Lindsey Buckingham songs, beautiful chorus matched with just enough lush accompanyment to make it shine. And the jerky rhythms to "In Our Own Time" cannot be done by anyone other than Buckingham. The spare sound becomes refreshing over time and actually becomes one of the album's strengths.

If I reviewed Seeds We Sow a few weeks ago I would have given it a seven. But now, I'll bump it up to

Album rating:

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