Last November, I saw both Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac within two weeks of each other. Buckingham, previous guitarist and semi-leader of Fleetwood Mac, had recently been fired from the band, and both shows I saw completely and fully represented this. Fleetwood Mac’s live show felt divorced from the band I had seen in the years past. This was my third time seeing them, and instead of a cohesive whole, the band seemed awkward together, although altogether enjoyable. Similarly, the entire Lindsey Buckingham show seemed like it was being overshadowed by unmentionable Fleetwood Mac-related conversation. He briefly referenced this situation, seemingly trying to put himself above it, but it held no impact and felt immature. His show was too much of a headache to give a shit.
The news of Lindsey Buckingham being kicked out of Fleetwood Mac back in early 2018 was unsurprising, yet unforeseen. A band whose biggest album, Rumours, was written by and about people cheating on each other, the “chain” was long broken, yet different makes and models of the band continued to move onward. But still, I felt pretty differently about the Mac, as when I was young and still growing up, Lindsey Buckingham was a personal hero to me. He still is, sort of. There’s a complicated situation here, as Lindsey Buckingham is no doubt a horrible person to work with, and maybe he’s just a horrible person. He’s an abusive, egotistical genius, and I think that the different personalities in Fleetwood Mac tore apart the band, but my idealistic view of Buckingham was torn down by the two concerts I saw in November.
The first, and more damaging one, was the solo show of Lindsey Buckingham. In a small concert hall which held about 1,000 people, Buckingham came out to applause and a captivated audience. The show felt like a selection of different things. A poorly performed mess, with an overreliance on backing tracks? Well, that, but also it felt like a half-hearted attempt to distance himself from the band that defined him. It cemented the idea that Buckingham is constantly and poorly grappling with his legacy. And, well, due to his inability to work with others, and a weird, passive-aggressive disdain for the band who made him famous, the solo show was mostly made up of his poor solo material. It seems like Buckingham has this belief that he can do everything he would do, but better, if he was doing it on his own. The truth is that Lindsey Buckingham’s solo music occasionally rises above mediocrity.
Two weeks later, I’m going to the biggest concert venue in my city, and I’m seeing the strange amalgamation of people that make up Fleetwood Mac in 2018. Featuring Neil Finn, from the 80s one-hit wonder Crowded House, on guitar, the band opens with a fine rendition of The Chain. Aside from a generally mediocre moment here and there, the new lineup was just fine, and the show was enjoyable, if lacking when it came to what I personally love about Fleetwood Mac. Sure, Stevie Nicks is a god, and in this new arrangement, there's a lot more time for her to shine, which is absolutely wonderful and the highlight of the new show. It’s just I’ve always idolized Lindsey Buckingham, and without him there, it feels like there’s something amiss. But still, the show was huge, and it showed a strong footing for the new lineup.
It’s odd without Lindsey. The question of “who is winning” in this long, awkward battle between band members never seems to end. Throughout the entire history of Fleetwood Mac, it has fluctuated. The Fleetwood Mac show seems a little empty, but still they’re packing arenas, and having moms everywhere singing the music from classic albums like Rumours, Tusk, and Fleetwood Mac. Lindsey Buckingham is playing a genuinely abysmal live show, anchored on solo music that no one cares about. The winner is obvious, although it’s obviously not about that. It’s about the people behind the music, and Buckingham and Nicks’ longtime, and deep seated, frustrations with each other. It’s been odd to look back and think about how hard Nicks must have had it, playing music about a man who abused her while she loved him, every single night, playing that music alongside the man who abused her.