This year I found myself facing a dilemma I wasn’t expecting. Back in January it was announced Fleetwood Mac was hitting the road again, but this time without guitarist and songwriter Lindsey Buckingham. Word was he had been dismissed from the band. Without getting into the hows and whys of this decidedly ever-present dysfunctional Fleetwood Mac drama, I found myself initially torn. You see, I have always been a huge fan of the band. Huge fan. To the point of obsessive even. I can name every line up, every song, album and most particulars of the band throughout its history. But like most, my favorite era of the mighty Mac has been the Lindsey and Stevie years. The dynamic and chemistry, as well as the unique songwriting the California duo brought to the Brits was absolutely one of legends in the pantheon of music history. So, hearing of Buckingham’s dismissal and of two separate tours commencing left me with some decisions. Attend the Fleetwood Mac tour opener in Tulsa or catch Lindsey’s tour here in the OKC area a few weeks later? Ultimately I made my choice. I wasn’t sold on the new line-up of Fleetwood Mac. Buckingham’s tour was centered around the release of his Solo Anthology on Rhino Records. The opportunity to see and hear him play some of these songs that have never been played live sealed my decision. It’s a decision I absolutely don’t regret.
Taking the stage at Riverwind Casino’s Showplace Theatre with a sensational four piece band backing him, Buckingham did not disappoint. At least to my ears. Unfortunately, I believe there were many in attendance that expected a full on show of Buckingham playing Fleetwood Mac hits. Those folks may have been very disappointed as a Mac song wasn’t played until 10 songs in. That song, “Never Going Back Again”, took on a new poignant meaning, as did many of the songs this night. Buckingham did though quickly follow with another Fleetwood Mac classic of his, with a wildly passionate rendition of “Big Love.” The only other Fleetwood Mac songs presented were “Tusk” and the singalong crowd favorite of “Go Your Own Way.”
But, as mentioned previously, what drew me to this show the most, was an opportunity to hear some of Buckingham’s “lost” classics. Songs rarely if ever played live. Songs such as, “In Our Own Time” and “Slow Dancing” as well as great songs from “Out Of the Cradle” and “Gift of Screws”. Buckingham is truly a gifted songwriter, encompassing elements of blues, jazz, folk and rock in a sincere, understated manner. His songwriting is topped off by his fascinating unique finger picking playing style. No one plays like Buckingham. It was special indeed to witness his incendiary guitar playing which highlighted the evening in “Shut Us Down” and left jaws dropped in “I’m So Afraid” in a smaller setting.
Then later, another Fleetwood Mac tune that dates back to original Mac guitarist Peter Green was the absolute highlight of the show for me. The song is one that Buckingham has performed since his early days with Fleetwood Mac. It has always been truly a declaration of his respect for Green and the blues era of Fleetwood Mac history. Considering all that has transpired, it’s nice to see it still being lovingly presented in the manner it is. It’s obvious that Buckingham has been wounded by the year’s developments. Nothing confirmed this more than the final song of the evening, “Treason.” From the 2008 album, Gift of Screws, it was a fitting closing from a man who perhaps deserved better than he received. Buckingham’s tour continues into December, and dates and information of the “Solo Anthology: The Best of Lindsey Buckingham” can be found here: https://rhino.warnermusic.com/lbsite/
Opening the evening was a delightful treat in J.S. Ondara. Armed simply with an acoustic guitar and a few lovingly crafted songs, the young man quickly won over the crowd eager for the headliner. Playing songs from his upcoming “Tales of America”, the songwriter originally from Nairobi absolutely captivated me. I say it over and over, the opening slot is always an opportunity to discover something fresh and new. This was definitely the case tonight. I really hope to catch him in a smaller setting, as I believe the intimacy of a club or coffee house will definitely enhance the magic of Ondara’s tales.
Ondara continues opening for Buckingham through December. More information on the tour and his music can be found here: https://www.jsondara.com/