April 16, 2008

Lindsey Buckingham Shines on 'Live At The Bass Performance Hall'

Lindsey Buckingham acquired a reputation over the years as that of a meticulous, often-eccentric musician and producer, one known for spending inordinate amounts of time painstakingly crafting albums until their fruition. And while his scrupulous talents certainly facilitated much of Fleetwood Mac’s greatest success, such hasn’t been the case for his infrequent solo endeavors. As Buckingham demonstrated on his superb 2006 release, Under The Skin, though, commercial success doesn’t necessarily equate with excellence.

On the road in support of the album, he treated audiences to the fruits of his labor with songs culled from both sides of his career. Live At The Bass Performance Hall, recorded in January 2007, captures the spirit of that magnificent tour.

Buckingham thrives in the intimate setting, the ruminative tone of his newer material casting an entrancing and illusory pall over much of the performance. His finger-picking style of guitar playing sustains the delicate melodies of “Not Too Late” and ”Shut Us Down” while, on “It Was You” and “Castaway Dreams,” beguiling harmonies and echoes abound.

He rearranges some older solo tracks to reflect the prevailing, pensive mood as well. Most strikingly, he strips “Go Insane” and “Trouble” of their original vim and pop gloss until they sound like harrowing confessions.

Not surprisingly yet sensational nonetheless, Buckingham delivers some of his finest, most animated moments when drawing from his catalog with Fleetwood Mac. On “Big Love” and “Never Going Back Again,” he sings with fervid intensity while further demonstrating his dexterity on the acoustic guitar. With an electric guitar in tow, he tackles “Second Hand News” and “Go Your Own Way” with rigorous enthusiasm. And he burns through a nine-minute version of “I’m So Afraid,” capping it off with a smoldering solo.

One final impression of this album – aside from the intrinsic merits of the performance – is that, for all the time and effort that he originally spent composing these songs, Lindsey Buckingham makes it all seem worthwhile. Live At The Bass Performance Hall will accordingly reward listeners for their consideration.