What makes Lindsey Buckingham such a unique figure in pop history, even verging on the oft-misused superlative of “pop genius”? His generous and career-spanning concert at the Lobero on Friday, April 15, offered many clues. From early Fleetwood Mac hits “Go Your Own Way” and “Tusk” — highlights of this concert — up through last year’s impressive, eponymous solo album, Buckingham has deftly juggled hooks, polish, and also quirks. When he musters up grit in his vocal tone or takes off on distortion-laden guitar flights, we rarely get the sense that he’s baring his soul or channeling rock and roll angst; pop craft and artistic control trump sheer abandon.
Part of a run of smaller venue dates before heading to much larger venues in Europe, Buckingham’s Lobero concert also came equipped with extra layers of emotional underscoring. This was an eagerly awaited, pandemic-delayed tour. Additionally, since his 2018 Arlington concert with Christine McVie, Buckingham has been dismissed from Fleetwood Mac and endured emergency heart surgery and a near-divorce.
But at the Lobero, the lean and lithe Buckingham, now 72, delivered a powerful — and polished — show with his most excellent quartet. He tapped into his small but high-quality solo discography, firing up “Trouble,” “Soul Drifter,” and the new “I Don’t Mind” (a prime example of his artful way with a pop hook). Though mostly playing his delay-lathered acoustic-electric guitars, Buckingham took the occasion of the tune “I’m So Afraid” to lay out one of his tasteful, climactic, and epic electric solos towards the show’s end.
The concert also had two pivotal moments of particular poignancy. One came with his closing tune, the new “Time,” a lovely variation on the theme of Sandy Dennis’s mortality-wise anthem “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” The other moving moment came with his slowed-down and radically reinvented version of the Mac tune “Never Going Back Again.” Suddenly, Buckingham seemed to pull away from the craft factor and bare his soul for a few minutes. A mid-show standing ovation was in order.