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Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008

Lindsey Buckingham @ Pabst Theater

Oct. 4, 2008

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   When Lindsey Buckingham took the stage at the Pabst Theater on Saturday night, the capacity crowd was primed to hear their favorite songs from his days with Fleetwood Mac. After all, this was the guitar whiz who, along with then-girlfriend Stevie Nicks, revitalized the British blues band with a pop-rock sensibility that led to the commercial success of the mega-hit Rumours.

  But Buckingham has also built a loyal following with his solo works, past and present, demonstrating that his intense, quirky style of guitar playing mesmerizes as much as it rocks out. His latest release, Gift of Screws, filled a good part of the night's two-hour, 20-song set and showcased a return to his frenetic rock roots over his somewhat-acoustic 2006 release, Under the Skin.

  Having turned 59 the day before his Milwaukee appearance, Buckingham is one of those rare artists who ages well, musically and otherwise. He surrounded himself with his longtime trio of talented musicians-Neil Haywood (guitar), Brett Tuggle (bass/keyboard) and Walfredo Reyes (drums)-yet it was Buckingham himself who commanded full attention. It's more than his rock-star persona. When Buckingham takes the guitar in his hands and plays-fingers only, no picks-he's at one with his instrument, be it a new tune like "Love Runs Deeper" or Mac classics like "World Turning" and "Big Love."

  In fact, part of Buckingham's attraction as a performer is that the brand new material once again showcases his uncanny songwriting abilities while remaining reminiscent of the catchy Fleetwood Mac hooks. The title track "Gift of Screws" and show opener "Great Day" reminded everyone that Buckingham is fearless when pushing rock to its limits. He easily juxtaposed the explosive rockers with the gentle melodies of "Treason," its layered arrangements and finger picking sandwiched between political barbs. On the evening's final encore, the new, beautiful ballad, "Time Precious Time," it was evident that the master guitarist had worked his magic on the crowd, conjuring up images of lost loves and bittersweet reunions that ran the full spectrum of emotion. His thank you and final gaze toward the appreciative audience was very telling, with his arms wrapped around his guitar like a precious old friend.