On his first meeting with Howlin’ Wolf, young Hubert Sumlin was sent home, not quite in shame, but close enough. Drop the pick, Wolf told him, and you’ll find your voice. Since that day, Sumlin, who will turn 80 in two weeks, has been tearing a sound out of the strings that only one man can replicate, and that man is Hubert himself. It’s the sound of his soul.
One doesn’t usually muse on the minutiae of Hubert Sumlin while listening to Lindsey Buckingham, but perhaps one should.
Buckingham is, of course, guitarist for Fleetwood Mac. Long before he joined that group, they were a pack of hairy London lads mimicking the Chicago blues of Muddy Waters, Otis Rush and, um, Howlin’ Wolf. You may say it’s a leap from the thumping, slippery groove of “Smokestack Lightning” to “Never Going Back Again,” but Buckingham might not.
And Buckingham, of course, lost the pick.
Wednesday at The Egg, Buckingham also lost his mind, and not just when he was singing “Go Insane.”
The guitar playing alone could have melted faces for hundreds of miles, and not in any way that Jack Black would recognize. The songwriting could have cowed any scribe south of Richard Thompson. And the singing was unhinged in a deeper, darker, California-dream-gone-wrong way than Brian Wilson on a bad day.
In other words, it was beautiful. I can’t think of a more perfect concert in recent memory.
Buckingham, on the mic, called Fleetwood Mac “The Big Machine.” He called his own combo – and his solo career – “The Small Machine.” And he discussed how one fed the other. Only about six hundred people heard this conversation, though. Why? Because half the world was at home thinking ‘Oh, it’s not Fleetwood Mac, it’s just him.’ The other half was home thinking ‘Oh, I’m too cool to like Fleetwood Mac.’ Idiots all.
The rest of us – do the math, it won’t work out, I promise, ask Yogi Berra – were way too busy falling in love with Lindsey Buckingham to care about cool.
Some time ago, Buckingham took a crew of seven guitarists out on the road with him, in a desperate Fripp-like attempt to replicate his crazy sound onstage. Wednesday, for the opening portion of the show, Buckingham just needed the five fingers of his right hand, flailing like a 15-year-old Colonie blonde at an open mic, to make magic.
Howlin’ Wolf would have been proud.
Review by Bokonon
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Greg Haymes’ review at The Times Union
Excerpt from Michael Hochanadel’s review at The Daily Gazette: “‘All My Sorrows’ provided both an early peak and a reflection of Buckingham’s love for the Beach Boys. The hard, insistent picking of the new ‘In Our Own Time’ and ‘Illumination’ liberated the initially reserved Buckingham into cutting loose, both in his playing and end-of-song loud ‘Yeahs!’ He and the band were all-business in ‘Tusk,’ focused on recreating the majesty of Fleetwood Mac’s massive recording, but Buckingham rode its groove to the front of the stage in a sizzling solo.”
LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM SET LIST
Shut Us Down
Never Going Back Again (Fleetwood Mac)
Under the Skin
All My Sorrows
In Our Own Time
Second Hand News (Fleetwood Mac)
Tusk (Fleetwood Mac)
Stars Are Crazy
End of Time
That’s the Way Love Goes
I’m So Afraid
Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac)
Turn It On
Seeds We Sow (solo)