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Buckingham gets intimate at the Orpheum

With a new album in stores, Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham returned to the Valley on Thursday, Sept. 18 for an intimate, and loud, show at the Orpheum Theatre.

Although he played many of the same tunes and featured the same three-piece backup band, Thursday night was a sharp contrast from Buckingham's recent Valley shows in '06 and '07, which were promoting his primarily acoustic Under the Skin album. This tour featured Buckingham in full guitar god mode, peppering his two-hour set with lengthy solos and plenty of rock star heroics.

The most notable difference came on his older solo tunes Trouble and Go Insane. Both songs have been deconstructed into acoustic numbers on recent solo and Mac tours, but they were given full-band electric treatments this year. And the bombastic Mac tunes which were a little subdued the last time around, blossomed into their chaotic glory - the only thing missing from Tusk was a marching band.

Even the solo acoustic Shut Us Down, from Under the Skin, seemed a bit more powerful.

Despite Buckingham's new CD, Gift of Screws, only hitting stores on Tuesday, most of the audience was familiar with the material, including the maniacal title track and Did You Miss Me which Buckingham noted was his new radio single. He didn't seem too confident that it would actually get any airplay, however.

Buckingham turned down the volume in the middle of the show, offering an acoustic set which covered such Fleetwood Mac faves as Never Going Back Again. Big Love - a middling Mac tune in its original full-band form on 1987's Tango in the Night album, blossomed in the stripped-down setting.

After the acoustic interlude, Buckingham plugged back in and deafened the crowd with a brace of heavier Mac tunes. World Turning featured an intricate drum solo from Walfredo Reyes, while Come, from Mac's 2004 album Say You Will, featured some snarling lyrics and even more vicious soloing.

But the climax was the majestic I'm So Afraid. The tune has been Buckingham's showcase for 30 years, and he didn't disappoint, delivering a 10-minute guitar solo that had the entire theater on its feet. The smash Go Your Own Way was almost a letdown afterwards.

After the high-decibel finale, Buckingham brought the crowd back to Earth with a low-key encore set. The Mac classic Second Hand News was performed in an acoustic band setting, similar to his last appearances, and Don't Look Down , from Buckingham's 1993 album Out of the Cradle, was a welcome return to his set.

He finished up the show with a final pair of new tunes, the full band Treason and the gentle Time Precious Time. Unfortunately by that point the casual fans were heading for the parking lot, having heard the Mac hits they came for.

A shame really, because those final songs provided the perfect coda to a spectacular show.