Friday, July 06, 2007

Lindsey Buckingham, The Venue 6/28/07

Lindsey Buckingham poster for "Under The Skin Tour" at Playmakers on June 28, 2007 I got to Playmakers 'The Venue' before the doors opened. There was a line- maybe twenty people deep in front of me. Club members got in at 7:00, but there weren't many of those. I went in with everyone else at 7:15. I milled around for a few minutes, getting my bearings before heading in. The stage was at the end of the hall; past the bar and a couple rows of tables. There were more tables up in the balcony. I crossed the concrete dance floor and stood in the front row; center stage. There was one guy in front of me. Any minute I expected a tap on the shoulder from my friend but he never showed. I brought a Molekine Cahier notebook and a pencil to do a quick drawing of the stage. To my left was the electric piano and Korg keyboard, along with Brett Tuggle's monitors and pedal board for his guitars and bass. Indicator lights from Lindsey's eight guitar amps glowed red in the subdued stage lighting. It looked like only three were mic'd up. In front of me were his stage monitors. I could stretch out my fingers to touch them. Three pedals and his mic stand were between the monitors. In the back to the right, was an electronic drum kit, acoustic cymbals and percussion set up. To the right was Neale Heywood's seat with a row of acoustic guitars, electric guitars and a bass stacked an upright rack. By the rack Neale had an acoustic guitar amp, and electric guitar amp. There was a raised area to the right of the stage where the soundboard was located. To the left of the stage, at ground level, was an area the roadies came from. Above that area was a private patron area full of young ladies overlooking the stage.

I never did start the drawing, although I was there for over an hour before the concert started and my friend was MIA. I met a really nice guy: George- the guy in front of me. He went to get a beer and I moved up and rested my elbows on the stage where I remained all evening. When he came back, I introduced myself. George was from Denver and looked a little like me when I sport a goatee. He was self-employed and decided to follow the tour- catching the last three dates. George had seen Lindsey eight times. George was a big fan and had discovered Fleetwood Mac about the same time as I had in 1975. He knew a lot of trivia about Lindsey and Fleetwood Mac, so we had lots to talk about. We talked in detail about "Tusk" and Lindsey's association with John Stewart and Walter Egan. I also chatted up the lady on my other side. She was there with her husband, who was just there... mostly to get beer. She had seen Fleetwood Mac in Grand Forks on the last tour. I showed her the set list I brought with me and we shared favorite songs. George knew more about what was coming up, "During the solo for 'So Afraid' Lindsey will stand right here with one foot on the monitor." This is why he was standing off to the right side of the stage. He also chatted with David and Lindsey- fellow tour followers. George was very excited. Thanks to General Seatting this was the closest he had ever gotten on tour.

At 8:00 PM the roadies came onstage and did a last minute sound check. Lindsey came onstage with a Nylon string Turner RN-6 acoustic for "Not Too Late". I noticed he had no low E string. A couple of his guitars were missing the low E-string. He played the song by himself. I was watching his fingers pick out the notes. Lindsey was in a black t-shirt, black leather jacket, black leather boots, and a pair of tepid faux blue jeans. The second track was "Trouble" from the 'Law and Order' album. Another Turner acoustic guitar- steel string this time. Lindsey played one song from almost every album except for 'Mirage' and 'Out of the Cradle'.

The crowd was boisterous, but I didn't think anything of it. Lindsey looked through cupped hands, through the spot lights- looking on with mock concern. I thought he was going through the motions. Some guy was yelling out "My Little Demon". George told me Lindsey plays the same set list, so we were both surprised when Lindsey broke into a minute of this song. Later someone yelled out "Louie Louie", Lindsey looked at Neale and asked, "Should we?" Neale shook his head no. Later still, some lady yelled out "Long Distance Runner." Lindsey stared her down and replied, "you don't even know the name of the song!" and that was the end of requests.

The band joined him for the next song. I shouted to George, "I see a Turner Model 1." A person favorite, the Turner 1 is a beautiful guitar that you only see in Lindsey's hands.

The sound wasn't very good from where I was standing. I was between 'The Venue' PA speakers- I might have been slightly behind them. Lindsey's guitar amps were facing me, and his stage monitors were at my chest. George seemed happy where he was. Behind me the floor was full, as were the tables, but I could squeeze back and find the sweet spot for sound. I made a decision to stay put. I have never been this close, and when I remember concerts I rarely remember much about the sound. It's the details that stick.

During "Castaway Dreams" I could actually hear Lindsey and the acoustic guitar over the PA. So as bad as the PA sound was, during the acoustic half of his set, the sound was good. Man, if I just had a switch to turn off the PA!

Lindsey introduced "Red Rover" as a strange song about the gods looking down on some horrible event. Some wag in the crowd yelled out "one God." Lindsey fixes him a look and continues on with his canned explanation before starting the song. The acoustic guitar had a Roland guitar synthesizer pick-up and is plugged into a Roland board, but I don't hear anything unusual- this after the build up from Lindsey. What I do hear is a disconcerting delay between when his fingers pluck the strings and the sound from the amp.

I was watching Brett and Neale play, as I was interested in the arrangements. Usually both where playing guitars. There was some bass played during the uptempo rockers, but mostly the sound filled the high frequency spectrum. Some people had ear plugs. I had a pair in my pocket but I didn't think it was too loud. I did have some trouble with the bass drum coming out of the right PA column, but as the band switched up the rockers and acoustic numbers it never got too bad. Brett was pretty good about making eye contact. He would catching me looking his way and would nod and smile. Brett also seemed to have a fan club. There was a clutch of young ladies to my left trying to catch his attention holding up signs "We Love You Brett". Odd, because Brett isn't exactly famous, and is only moderately good looking.

I was looking at Lindsey, Brett and Neale during "It Was You" - someone was out of tune. I had a hard time figuring out who- I think it was Brett or Lindsey. It's also possible that the harmonically complex song caused dissonants when distorted by the PA.

I was looking forward to hearing the fast acoustic version of "Big Love". I was so close that I had to crane my neck up to see Lindsey's face. On this song I just wanted to watch his fingers. I was surprised by how little fret board activity was going on. The song sounds like it's going 100 mph, but his fingers just slowing making the rounds on what looks like an open tuning. The guitar is a Chet Atkins Nylon String Gibson.

I had read that Lindsey recites a poem before "Go Insane" so I was prepared. I thought he had finished so I yell up "Amen." But he had only paused. Lindsey looked into the crowd and yelled to some noisy girls behind me, "I'm trying work up here, shut up!"

After "World Turning" starts to fade out, Lindsey sits on the stage, towels off and has a drink of water, while Alfredo Reyes does a percussion solo in a similar vein to what Mick Fleetwood would do during this song. The difference is Mick is a great rock drummer and Alfredo is not very good. Alfredo sits on a wood box with a contact mic. By lightly taping different area's of the box he gets different sounds. It's very boring and self-indulgent. I laugh to myself when I wonder, "What if he farts?" George told me, "The drummer is new and he's really good." Looking to my left during the concert I begin to understand. George is dancing; his hands are tucked in. He's shadow boxing, his body is gyrating and his movements seem to have no relation to the beat of the song. I don't mind- music affects everyone differently.

I love the slow jam that is "So Afraid" it builds and builds. Lindsey is standing on the left stage monitor and blasting out that slow linear one note solo. George is right there for it. That is until a fight almost breaks out between George and some nazi guy. I was in sonic nirvana at the time. I looked over and some guy has George by the shoulders and is making a threatening face. The people around him intercede and the incident burns itself out after a couple bars of the solo. I wonder what happened. I assume George was in sonic nirvana too and had completely spazzed out: crashing into the guy and spilling his drink? *

Lindsey was warming up to the crowd, smiling more, making eye contact. After the rave up finished "So Afraid" he was slapping hands. Unfortunately, because I'm front row center his monitors are in the way. I did catch the back of his hand but that's the closest I got, except for "Tusk" when Lindsey did his little foot tap dance at the edge of the stage. I had to pull my hands back so he didn't step on them. During "Tusk" and for much of the concert I was clamping my hands or pounding on the stage, but not in any simple 4/4 beat but in a nice syncopated rhythm in the mistaken belief that Lindsey or the band would notice my 'chops'. ** The stage had a nice bounce to it. When Lindsey would start stomping around I could feel it- for a full five sense experience.

The roadie hands out a Black Les Paul. I look at George, we had just discussed this topic. Lindsey hasn't played a Les Paul in thirty years. The guitar is plugged in a different amp. It takes a few bars before I recognize "Go Your Own Way" as the sound is so distorted it sounds like death metal. I'm confused- this doesn't seem right. It doesn't have the bouncing light quality of the original. The answer arrives with the coda. Lindsey is slapping the fretboard, dancing wildly, then he slips off guitar and starts smashing it into the stage. But the stage is bouncy and the Les Paul (cheap clone?) is heavy and won't break. George can't believe this, "You're witnessing a rare event." I'm thinking, "Pete Townshend Jr."

The band leaves the stage. The crowd surges forward. I have my wallet in my front pocket. No one can get in front of me- there is no front. If all those young ladies want to grope me - who am I to argue. What I did mind was a girl with a vinyl copy of 'Law And Order'. She was waving it back and forth from one side of the stage to the other hoping Lindsey would sign it. He just ignored her. The girl behind me is chastising me, "You have to pound on the stage!" The band is coming back whether I do or don't but I humor her.

Lindsey and the band return and perform "Holiday Road" - a rare song. He encourages us to join the dog barking and howling at the end. Lindsey introduces the band. Neale had been with him a long time. A tall lanky guy with a cool demeanor. Alfredo, 'the Cuban' joined the tour during the the 4th leg- this may explain why I found the drumming weak. Brett is introduced . Lindsey comments on Brett's fan section. Brett thanks his sister and his mother, "I'll see you at the family reunion later." Lindsey states, "This band is more than band-mates, more than friends, we have become like brothers." Brett takes to the mic, to thank his brother. Brett seemed taken with Fargo, "This has been the best concert of the tour." Lindsey announced he would release a new album in early 2008.

"Show You How" is odd because both Brett and Neale are playing bass. Lindsey is playing just the bass strings on his guitar. Lindsey comments on Fargo again. He's throws out the guitar pick- it sails over my head. He dedicates the next song to the fans that have followed his tour. I'm thinking of George, but he names Tom. Tom's father is struggling with cancer. I can relate to that. "Shut Us Down" closes the concert. Lindsey thanks the audience with "Fargo... You're Out of Sight!"

I share my reaction with George. It was a very good concert but I've seen some pretty amazing concerts so this one rates a B. The bar empties quickly. The roadies come out to turn off the equipment. I ask for a pick- he takes them all off the mic stand and throws them... over my head. He comes back with more, and they end up with some young ladies- I can't blame him. Oh well, I still had a front row center experience. George takes off- I thought he might stick around. If he had I would would have stayed. I wonder if Lindsey might come out for autographs and a chat with the fans? *** I had my doubts but you never know. I did get a souvenir as a hostess was handing out concert posters at the door.

Set List

  1. Not Too Late - Under The Skin (2006)
  2. Trouble - Law And Order (1981)
  3. Never Going Back Again - Rumours (1977)
  4. Second Hand News - Rumours (1977)
  5. Castaway Dreams- Under The Skin (2006)
  6. Red Rover - Say You Will (2003)
  7. It Was You- Under The Skin (2006)
  8. Big Love - Big Love (1987)
  9. Sardonic World/Go Insane - Go Insane (1984)
  10. Under the Skin- Under The Skin (2006)
  11. World Turning - Fleetwood Mac (1975)
  12. I'm So Afraid - Fleetwood Mac (1975)
  13. I Know I'm Not Wrong - Tush (1979)
  14. Tusk - Tush (1979)
  15. Go Your Own Way- Rumours (1977) Encore:
  16. Holiday Road - Vacation (1983)
  17. Band Intro
  18. Show You How- Under The Skin (2006)
  19. ****Say Goodbye- Say You Will (2003)
  20. Shut Us Down- Under The Skin (2006)

Comments: * The Nazi guy's girl was trying to squeeze George out of the way. George was politely removing her arms from his shoulders. Nazi guy took offense at that. After the concert this big Linebacker type guy came up and said, "Hey Man, what happened?" After George told him, the Linebacker said, "You handled that right. I can't believe some of these people. He must have been drunk."

**I also wore my tan vertical stripe shirt that looks like something from the Beach Boys- knowing Lindsey is a huge Beach Boy fan.

**After the concert: George, Lindsey #1LiddyBuckFan (to the left of George), and David (behind Lindsey) did meet Lindsey Buckingham. I found photos and some comments from DavidMN and #1LiddyBuckFan online.

***Track 19 may not exist, but I thought he played this song from "Say You Will". My memory is not that good. I thought I saw local anchor Robin Huebner by the stage after the concert, but there was no local press coverage.

Lindsey Buckingham ticket for "The Venue" at Playmakers on June 28, 2007. General Admission (Horray, that means front row center for me.)