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Buckingham shines on his own

Munhall, Pa., Carnegie Music Hall Of Homestead, October 24, 2018

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

Fresh off his dismissal from Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham is now suing his former band for breach of contract. He embarked on a solo tour during the same time that Fleetwood Mac is on the road. The plaintiff made a very strong case, at least musically, as to why the matter should be decided in his favor.

Buckingham walked confidently on stage and prefaced the two-hour master class to come by saying, "I'm out here for a few reasons. Warner Bros. wanted so showcase my solo work and looking back, I'm very pleased with how well the material has held up." Some muffled laughter from the audience suggested they may have inferred that it was due to the more obvious reason that he is out of a job.

His solo career away from Fleetwood Mac was regarded as something of an experimental lark prior to 1992's "Go Insane" album. So, he began with a sure-fire double shot blazing through "Don't Look Down" and "Go Insane" with wild shreds on a hollow body acoustic. He wielded the only electric guitar he uses - the Rick Turner Model 1 - for "Surrender The Rain." Its highly polished mahogany body makes it look like priceless Stradivarius and with its primitive analog switches, it is as hauntingly beautiful as Buckingham's crystal clear, powerful tenor.

Thanks to his incredibly capable band, the five Fleetwood Mac covers were spot on. The perennial showstopper "I'm So Afraid" packed an arena rock volume into a 1,300-seat theater, and between Buckingham's guitar and some torrid drum work, the room was bathed with a sonic boom.

He did not play anything from 2017's Top 20 duet album with Christine McVie that featured four of the five classic members of Fleetwood Mac with only Nicks being absent. On this night, he proved he didn't need any of them going forward.

Seeing Buckingham solo is to appreciate his exceptional talent in both his innovative playing and song arrangements, especially on his solo material, which stretches the limits of conventional pop music.

When Buckingham left Fleetwood Mac in 1987, they tried to replace him with Billy Burnette and Rick Vito. Now they have two capable players in Mike Campbell (from Tom Petty's band) and Crowded House front man Neill Finn. Upon hearing Buckingham playing his former band's songs, it is evident that he is as much a core of the iconic quintet as its namesake founder and iconic lead singer. And he shines remarkably without them.

Opener and Nairobi, Kenya native J.S. Ondara joked that he was going to deliver some depressing folk music and then did just that. He joked, "It's hard to play songs that people know when you have only one album." Never mind that it won't be released until February. His high range vocals lend a gospel choir feel to his politically conscious lyrics on songs like "Revolution Blues" even more emotionally impactful.