Gift Of Screws is Lindsey Buckingham's second solo album in two years following a nearly 15-year gap, and he didn't shy away from showcasing the new material at the House Of Blues on Thursday night, even if most of the attendees were likely expecting his Fleetwood Mac hits (and even if many minds were perhaps preoccupied by the concurrent Cubs playoff game and VP debates, no doubt to blame for the less-than-capacity crowd).
As leader of Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham sold millions of records, but has seen less commercial success on his own. Artistically, though, his solo work has never really struck a wrong note, and all of his records have been exceedingly adventurous. Still, at this point one must assume his cult solo status comes largely by choice: He could easily fit most of his solo tracks to suit Fleetwood Mac, and has in the past. Indeed, much of Gift Of Screws dates back to the time when Fleetwood Mac's Say You Will convinced Buckingham to sideline his solo career and cannibalize several works in progress for the sake of the group.
Still, in a live setting, the likes of "Love Runs Deeper" and the new album's title track proved to be energized rockers with the rough edges left thankfully intact (as much as the control-freak in Buckingham leaves any edges rough). The latter was deliriously unhinged and the former easily on par with past Buckingham pop nuggets such as "Go Insane" and "Trouble," performed that night back-to-back. When Buckingham did dip into the Mac catalog, he chose the unlikely avenue of "Tusk" and "I Know I'm Not Wrong" rather than the most obvious songs-- though he eventually did some of those, too, including "Never Going Back Again" through the crowd-pleasing "World Turning" and "Go Your Own Way."
Throughout the night, Buckingham once again affirmed his guitar hero status, his idiosyncratic finger-picking style one of the many things that set his go-for-broke solos apart from the usual suspects. Though he demonstrated flash to spare, watching him play was akin to watching someone weave, his fingers gracefully dancing across and around the strings with an ease sometimes at odds with the jagged sonic shrapnel coming from his instrument. Buckingham could likely afford to add an extra player or two to the tried-and-true trio that has been accompanying him as of late, but the quartet did remarkably well with his equally composed and crazy arrangements-- frenetic, fussy and just as often beautiful in one fell swoop.
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