I have to get the fangirl part of this out of the way. Apologies for those who only came here to read about Lindsey Buckingham’s show. I’ll try to be brief.
GUYS. I met Lindsey Buckingham! I’ve been waiting 21 years and it finally happened and it was everything I dreamed it would be.
To be perfectly honest, I was terrified to meet him. I’ve had a nasty habit of putting people on pedestals throughout my life and just about every one of them has come tumbling down in fiery ruins by now. In a Landslide, even. Ahem.
I was afraid I would finally come face to face with Lindsey and he wouldn’t live up to the ridiculously high standards I’ve held him to for two decades and a year (and two months but who’s counting?). What if he was cranky? I’d be cranky having to meet and greet that many people who have invested so much of their hearts and souls in me. How exhausting. What if he was cranky and it completely shattered my illusion (ahem) of him?
No need to worry. He couldn’t have been sweeter. He hugged me as I approached him and as we hugged, I told him I’d been waiting 21 years to meet him. We were cheek to cheek here. This is important. As we withdrew from the hug, he said, bless him, “well it’s so great to finally meet you,” in that beautiful voice. And as we situated ourselves for the photo op, he thanked me for coming and I think I thanked him for coming and then:
I wished him a good show and then retreated to the door, keeping it together just long enough to get out of his line of sight before I started sobbing.
I’ve yammered on ad nauseum why he is so special to me. I’ll spare you now. But this was...just incredible. And in the light of the current Fleetwood Mac drama, it was exactly what I needed to see and feel from him in order for me to move on. It was like dad telling me it’s okay to still love mom even if they couldn’t be together anymore. Now, I’m 38. I realize how silly that sounds, but it’s a good analogy, nonetheless. He’s doing fine. He’s happy. He’s at peace. Heartbroken, yes, but he has no hate in his heart for the other four. He’s genuinely happy to be moving forward as he is, and grateful to those of us who support him. And I feel like I can finally breathe again after six months.
Opening act J.S. Ondara did about six of his songs and it was only him and his acoustic guitar. He did one song a cappella and it was beautiful. He was a delight. Snappy dresser. Humble and quietly funny. Before each song, he’d tell us the name of it and then say, “You’ve never heard it”. It was a slow start to a rock show, something Ondara noted by saying it was his job to depress us so that Lindsey could cheer us back up, but his music is very pretty. He’s a talented guy, and how special to be given this opportunity to open for a man like Lindsey Buckingham?
Okay! On to Lindsey’s show. After a brief intermission after Ondara finished, Lindsey’s band walked out on stage, followed soon after by Lindsey himself. He was greeted to thunderous applause and cheers and about half of the theatre stood for him. Me included. Obviously.
The set list was perfect and they moved through the songs one after the other, with Lindsey pausing to speak here and there between the songs. What struck me most was how many times he thanked us for being there. He must have thanked us ten times throughout the show. His sincerity shown through and touched my heart and I’m so glad I was there to experience it.
ALSO, he barks. Yep. Literally. He literally barks along with the dog at the end of “Holiday Road” and he is such a nerd I can hardly even stand it. I love him. “Bark bark, BARK. Bark bark, BARK! Bark like a dog!” And of course I did. Duh. And then he did this, not even semi-erotic, but full-on-erotic moan at the end of the song and...let’s just say it was nice. He threw us one of those nerdy smile/laugh things as the song ended before he retrieved his next guitar for the next song.
Shout out to Lindsey’s guitar tech, Stanley, by the way, who was working his ass off keeping all those guitars in order and in tune and passing them off to Lindsey in time. I think Lindsey switched guitars for just about every song, save his three song acoustic set. But he might have even switched guitars then. I can’t remember. I’m still thinking about the barking. In any case, Stan is an unsung hero in Buckingham’s world.
I was worried how the acoustics would be in a theatre setting, but there was no need. The sound was incredible. The band was incredible. These guys were beasts. And Lindsey had an absolute blast. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him that free and relaxed and, dare I say it, spontaneous? It was so special. He received huge applause after every song and many people stood for him as well. The ones who didn’t stand, I attribute to the tightened security. Seriously. These guys were strict. I know they were just doing their jobs but... what do you mean I can’t stand? I get the no pictures thing but, really? We can’t stand? Honestly, these guys looked like they would toss you out if you sneezed. Who doesn’t let people go to the stage during Go Your Own Way?? You know Lindsey wants us to strum his guitar during it... right?
What stood out most to me was this performance of Never Going Back Again. Of course we were all thinking of Fleetwood Mac during it. Lindsey too, clearly. I’ve never seen such a passionate performance of that song. His final “I’m never going back again” was powerful, resolute, and it felt very final. Of course that made me cry. I needed a Gatorade after the show to replenish my fluids. Never say never, of course, especially with those five people, but this change feels permanent.
I noticed something during the guitar outro for I’m So Afraid, and I realize now that it was there throughout the entire show: A genuine happiness from Lindsey to be there performing for us. I have always, always felt angst and pain from him during his performances, like a palpable pain resided just underneath that unending jittery energy of his, and his performances were his only way to release it, if only temporarily.
Thursday night there was something different there. I think it was contentment. A full-circle completion that he is proud of, perhaps. The knowledge that he did everything he could to preserve the legacy Fleetwood Mac created over those 43 years together, and generate a different outcome for them and for their fans. A hopefulness, because he still has so much more to share with us, and a delight that we are still here for him, waiting patiently for whatever it is he has to share.
I’ll finish with this: Watching Lindsey Buckingham play guitar the way he does, watching him belt out songs and stomp around the stage with the energy of a man less than half his age, is the closest thing to what is called God that I’ll ever experience. That’s not hyperbolic fangirl nonsense. It’s truth. There is something wholly divine about that man’s talent. I am not a religious person. I believe in the Universe above all else. But if what is called God means awe and if it means love and peace and if God is the knowledge that there is something greater than me out there that can save my soul, this is as close to God as I will get. And I’m here for it, amen.