Lindsey Buckingham — Magnolia Theater 12/3
On December 3, 2021, Lindsey Buckingham’s tour behind his new eponymous album came to The Magnolia Theater in El Cajon, California, a working-class satellite city to San Diego. The 1210 seat theater, which just underwent a $7 million renovation, was packed to capacity with adoring fans. San Diego audiences are known to be welcoming and appreciative. This crowd, though, went over the top with shouts of “I love you, Lindsey” and a stage rush during “Go Your Own Way.”
Buckingham, thin as a rail and dressed in a t-shirt, sport jacket, and skinny jeans, was in great voice. If he can’t hit all the notes he used to in the 70s, he’s managed to hide it well without the cadre of female singers that many of his contemporaries use to pick up the slack. His supporting musicians – he auspiciously never referred to them as his “band” – included white boys from the ‘hood who were as good as you would expect at a gig backing up Lindsey Buckingham. Brett Toggle alternated between keys, base, and the occasional guitar, while Neale Heywood played mostly electrics to support Lindsey’s Turner acoustics. I’m sure these guys were absolutely amazing, playing at a level to which most musicians can only aspire. But taking the stage with Lindsey Buckingham is kind of like backing up Joe Namath at quarterback. You’re not going to get much of a chance to shine, and if somehow you did, you wouldn’t look that good in comparison.
There was another guy in the back, triggering samples – lots of hand percussion, some background vocals. I didn’t get his name, but they did a funny bit when Lindsey introduced him. Buckingham joked that because he’s so far in the back, they don’t know what he’s doing half the time. The guy then pulled out a partially knitted sweater, and they joked that he spends his time on stage, knitting Christmas sweaters.
The second star of the night was drummer Jimmy Paxson. He’s a Jack-Black type only with more hair who shouted some serious count-ins and played some exploding drum intros and fills, enabling the show to really rock. During the intros, Lindsey said that Paxson is the best drummer he’s ever played with, acknowledging that that was saying something.
The setlist is pretty consistent from night to night, but nonetheless outstanding. It’s a tribute to Buckingham’s talent as a song writer that he can put on a fantastic 90-minute plus show while leaving so many of his “hits” on the table. Not many artists could leave out “Go Insane,” “Holiday Road,” and oh my God, “Monday Morning,” and still have their fans go home happy.
The set has roughly four parts. They open with seven songs from Buckingham’s mostly more recent – OK we’re still talking 20+ years – solo records. Songs like “Not Too Late,” the opening number, and “Shut Us Down” are truly, unappreciated adult classics. Most artists struggle to write songs that don’t draw on the innocence and wonder of youth for their power. Buckingham has made it a staple of his song writing over the last two decades, including all of the original songs on his latest album. The crowd responded fabulously to each number with Lindsey often recognizing the applause with his own literal shouts of pure joy.
For guitar aficionados, a Buckingham concert these days is also a showcase for Rick Turner’s fabulous Renaissance and Model 1 guitars. Lindsey has been playing them for years, and he gets a different one for every song. Whether he doubles up at all, I can’t say for sure. But I noticed at least 5 different Renaissance models and a few Model 1’s. Here’s a rig rundown from his 2012 tour. He played a more traditional acoustic for one song, which I understand to be a Taylor, but I’m not certain of that. So, if you play and want to sound like Lindsey, get yourself a Turner. Yeah right! They’re amazing guitars. But none of us will ever sound like this guy. That, of course, is news to no one and nothing to be ashamed about.
Next up is the solo part of the show during which Lindsey performs his early solo hit “Trouble,” in a fabulous open-G arrangement for acoustic guitar. He’s been playing it this way a lot longer now than he ever played the original version. If you’ve never heard it, let me tell you, it’s a treat. Check out YouTube for the performance on “Live from Here.”
After “Trouble,” Buckingham played the first two Fleetwood Mac songs of the night, an amazing solo version of “Never Going Back Again” that for my money – and like “Trouble” – beats the original band version. “Big Love” wraps up the 3-song solo set.
Next is a four-song set from the new album. Lindsey introduced it by explaining that he’d completed the album three years ago. But because of health issues and the pandemic, he didn’t release it until now. And he stressed a couple of times how he thought that was a good thing. The times, in a way, had caught up with the album.
The songs were well done, but aside from “Scream,” the bouncy album opener, they aren’t the songs I would have picked. Not that they aren’t good. Honestly, if I were Lindsey, I’d have played the whole album. But I really wish that he had included “Power Down” and “Santa Rosa,” my two favorite tracks.
The final four-pack were Fleetwood Mac songs. When he started “Second Hand News,” the guy next to me – there by himself, must have been in his 50s – nearly burst with joy. It was something to see. “Tusk,” and “I’m So Afraid,” followed with “Go Your Own Way,” closing the main set. It was on these songs, but especially “Secondhand News,” where my mind’s ear was looking for Stevie’s voice.
The two-song encore consisted of “Love is Here to Stay,” a fabulous mature love song from Buckingham’s collaboration with Christie McVie a few years ago when Nicks stiffed them and so they couldn’t make it a Fleetwood Mac album. Buckingham closed the show with “Time,” the Pozo-Seco Singers 1960s folk hit that was the first song he recorded for the Lindsey Buckingham album.
You can get more information, buy merch, and find tour dates on the Lindsey Buckingham website.