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Dave Carlock - A Day In The Life
LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM’S ‘INTIMATE’ BIG SHOW HITS SAUGATUCK
Originally Posted: 11-23-2012 5:08 PM
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I'd always wanted to see Lindsey Buckingham or Fleetwood Mac live, so I was shocked to hear he was appearing on November 16th in Saugatuck, a little arts colony on Kalamazoo Lake with a population just shy of 1000. I wasn't so shocked to hear that the 412 seat Saugatuck Center For The Arts was sold out.

A few days before the show date, I mentioned this to a Los Angeles friend and suddenly it appeared that I might end up on Lindsey's guest list. Anyone who knows Troy Morris knows he's been one of the planet's most enthusiastic Lindsey fans for decades. That passion led to his eventual befriending of Lindsey through his work as a Senior Pro Audio Account Manager at Westlake Pro, one of the premier recording studio equipment dealers on the West Coast.

Being a true Lindsey evangelist, Troy offered to inquire on my behalf. And so three hours before showtime, I was confirmed and I was on my way to an amazing night, just 45 minutes north of my recording studio in Benton Harbor.

The venue proved to be the perfect blend of intimacy, studio quality acoustic design, and a veritable holding chamber for fans who couldn't believe they could see an artist of Lindsey's caliber at such close range. From a performer's stand point, the stage was over 24' wide and deep enough to be considered legit by pro touring standards. With the feeling of connection you usually only get in a club, the venue provides artists with an attentive audience through an “MTV Unplugged soundstage” type of experience.

After picking up tickets at will call, it was great to bump into Lindsey's tech Stan Lamendola in the lobby. Stan's been guitar teching in earnest for the past six years, counting regular work with Lindsey among other live gigs with artists like Steve Stevens (Billy Idol), Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), and Davey Johnstone (Elton John).

During the show, Stan has the sidestage task of swapping Lindsey's multiple instruments and keeping them tuned fresh for each new song. The four primaries are a Rick Turner Renaissance acoustic in open tuning, a Rick Turner Model 1 electric in standard tuning (the iconic instrument seen on Fleetwood Mac tours), a Taylor 314 CE model acoustic in standard tuning, and a Gibson Chet Atkins classical in standard tuning. The latter was blended with a low octaver on a creepily reinvented version of his solo hit, ‘Go Insane'. I'm sure Jack Whitehead (my guitar tech from the Funkin' Rock Orchestra) would've loved seeing Stan's flawless flow.

And what can I say about the darkly enigmatic singer/songwriter set loose on Saugatuck's shore? Lindsey is still every bit the quiet, brooding genius--exuding more than a hint of sex and danger behind a vaguely spiritual veneer. That's quite the opposite of today's pop stars who hope to get sponsored by Dr. Pepper instead of Pepsi because it speaks to their individualism…

His voice? Impeccably strong and identifiable. The songs? As personal and emotionally raw as any of the material from his Fleetwood Mac projects. And his guitar playing? A serious schooling to anyone who thought finger-picking styles were sweet and ballad-y.

One word to describe the show? “Dynamic”. Whispers trade with shouts--sweetly gentle acoustic tones transform into hairy, semi-distorted power plucking, all within the same song. The genteel among you should bring earplugs. Lindsey's timekeeping during uptempos was relentless and punishing. There was a collectively held breath as seatedge sitters wondered when he would fatigue. Songs early in the set received standing ovations.

His blindingly fast solo version of ‘Big Love' makes you forget Fleetwood Mac ever recorded it and may forever be the popular music benchmark for anyone who wants to test their finger picking skill and endurance. ‘Big Love' has all the awe factor of the best Bluegrass banjo pickers, while mercifully swapping out the awful sound of a banjo for the elegance of the classical guitar. Further, he rejects Bluegrass' major pentatonic blues slides and down home grins on the player's faces for Aeolian tonality and bends. In true Buckingham spirit, he effortlessly turns that musical smile upside down.

His playing can best be described as a human sequencer—where a frothy intensity and emotional passion boil off the fretboard above undertows of hammering deliberation. The fourteen song set included solo cuts ‘Cast Away Dreams', ‘Not Too Late', ‘Shut Us Down', ‘Trouble', ‘Rock Away Blind', and ‘Seeds We Sow'. Songs from his Fleetwood Mac work included ‘Bleed To Love Her', ‘Come', ‘Never Going Back Again', and ‘I'm So Afraid'.

During ‘Go Your Own Way', about ten of us rushed the stage and I stood directly in front of Lindsey, who came to each side of the pedal boards to allow some fans to strum his guitar with him mid-song. Seeing him embrace the give and take he's afforded on what he called “a car tour” was great. He acknowledged the value in the exchange at the show's close as he promised to return if we'd have him back.

It's great to see shows in venues under 1000 like the Saugatuck Center For The Arts that provide a place for ever-serious artists like Lindsey Buckingham to perform their music intensely, yet be able to relax a bit and truly connect with their audience. Thanks to Troy, Stan, and Lindsey for a night to remember.

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Dave Carlock
DAVE CARLOCK -
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