'Lindsey Buckingham: Songs from the Small Machine - Live in L.A.' was recorded live at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, California in April 2011.
1) Shut Us Down
2) Go Insane
4) Never Going Back Again
5) Big Love
6) Under The Skin
7) All My Sorrows
8) In Our Own Time
10) Second Hand News
12) Stars Are Crazy
13) End Of Time
14) That's The Way Love Goes
15) I'm So Afraid
16) Go Your Own Way
17) Turn It On
19) Seeds We Sow
Having played guitar since the age of 14 and not being all that great at it, seeing Buckingham's amazing guitar talent in action on 'Songs from the Small Machine' makes me extremely jealous. His rapid finger-picking produces a sound that you'd think was coming from a pair of guitars and not just one. And matching that high level of skill is Buckingham's emotion-filled, unique voice. If you thought Fleetwood Mac couldn't sound any better, you haven't heard Buckingham's solo work. He's no one-trick pony. During "I'm So Afraid" he lashes out a traditional distorted guitar solo. Not only does he have the talent of finger picking mastered, but he can thrash a guitar better than most current rock stars.
Throughout the show, Buckingham shares personal experiences with the audience. He describes his two-sided career as a couple of machines - Fleetwood Mac is big machine - one that draws more attention and functions on a higher level, brings in more money - and his solo career is another machine. This much smaller one is made possible by the income from the big machine. From his solo career is comes his creativity and experimentation. If Fleetwood Mac is an easily accessible Hollywood blockbuster, his solo career is a small, hearty indie film - but he knows that each is equally as important as the other, both being necessary for the other to exist.
'Songs from the Small Machine' features tracks from both Fleetwood Mac and his solo career. The show opens with acoustic performances of five of his best songs, after which his band joins him on stage for 13 more tracks. The encore is concluded with Buckingham performing one last acoustic song. The setlist is as follows: "Shut us Down," "Go Insane," "Trouble," "Never Going Back Again," "Big Love," "Under the Skin," "All my Sorrows," "In Our Own Time," "Illumination," "Second Hand News," "Tusk," "Stars are Crazy," "End of Time," "That's the Way Love Goes," "I'm So Afraid," "Go Your Own Way," "Turn it On," "Treason" and "Seeds We Sow."
Before Maroon 5 blew up with their debut album, they were constantly touring. I coincidentally saw them open up for other bands about five times in a 12-month period. At the last of those shows, lead singer Adam Levine said they were "tired of playing the same damn songs every night." Unlike Levine, Buckingham's face shows that he still enjoys playing "Go Your Own Way" just as much now as did when the song was first released 35 years ago. He's grateful for both of his co-existing careers and is really in the business for the music.
As if his music wasn't a strong enough draw, knowing Buckingham's views on music and songwriting (which are revealed in this disc's special feature interview) makes him a musician well worth listening to.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Songs from the Small Machine' arrives on a Region A locked BD-50 in a standard blue keepcase. Inside is a small 8-page booklet with photos from the concert. Printed on the back of the cover art insert and visible through the blue case is a wide shot of the band on stage during the performance. The only thing that plays before the main menu is forced vanity reel for Eagle Vision Entertainment.
'Songs from the Small Machine' hits Blu-ray with a 1080i/AVC MPEG-4 transfer in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Being a fan of Lindsey Buckingham's music, I wish I could tell you this was a demo-worthy disc, but it's not.
It's noticeable from the opening sequence that whenever there's a long-shot, detail is almost completely lost. In fact, the long shots are pretty much the way your eyes would see the concert if you were sitting in the nosebleeds - the band looks like bright, washed-out featureless personages on stage. Not a single facial detail is distinguishable. But the opposite can be said for close-ups. Whenever the camera is right on Buckingham or one of his players, the screen is filled with an immense amount of sharp detail. You'll see the gel that holds Buckingham's Art Garfunkel-esque hair straight up, the texture of his black leather coat and even the exact moment that his forehead begins to bead up with sweat (it's during "Big Love").
Noise usually appears in the long shots between songs as the stage light dim and the theater darkens. Throughout the entire concert, dead pixels will catch your eye during zooming or panning shots.
Black levels are decent, as are delineated shadows - but again, when the cameras are far from the stage, the great details are lost. The color of the ever-changing stage lights are beautifully saturated, but suffer from banding and artifacting - specifically when reds and blues flash on the backstage scrim during "I'm So Afraid."
Three listening options are presented for 'Songs from the Small Machine:' LPCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 4.0 and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Both the LPCM and Dolby setting are decent, but if you have a large sound system, use the Master Audio. The first two are too quiet, but the Master Audio is thick, loud and full of detail.
Much like my opinion on good music, this Master Audio needs to be heard over and over again to pick up on everything it has to offer. With good music, you can hear something new each time you listen to it. The same goes for this Blu-ray. From the get-go I was impressed by details within the audio - the slapping of Buckingham's fingers on his guitar, the vibrations of the strings as plucked, even annoying hollers from "that guy" in the audience who yells out, "Oh, yeah!" just as a song ends in silence.
The mix of music itself is nearly perfect, constantly using all channels to place you in the venue. When the band joins Buckingham on stage, the guitars are so well in sync that it sounds like you're hearing one space-filling 12-string guitar instead of two standard 6-string guitars. Some bands have to use synthesizers to fill the space, but not Buckingham. Even while playing solo there's still an overwhelming amount of musical activity filling the air.
Beware that Buckingham frequently plays with the use of volume effects on his guitar. This is no error of the Blu-ray. As his guitar swells back and forth from loud to silent, it's no problem of the disc nor your stereo.
As Buckingham speaks to the audience between songs, his vocal track drops much lower than that of the music played before it. Once the music resumes, the volume is back to normal. The only mid-music problems that come from the mixing are found near the end of the show. As the band wraps up an amazing version of "I'm So Afraid," the post-song audience cheers suddenly turn on in full volume through the rear speakers. During "Go Your Own Way," the acoustic guitar is played so loud that you only hear Buckingham's electric guitar work during the mid-song and ending solos.
Although it could be better, 'Songs from the Small Machine' is still a fantastic concert Blu-ray. The impressive musical talent of Lindsey Buckingham must be heard live to be fully appreciated. Despite a lack of video quality and a few audio errors, this Blu-ray does a fine job of proving that.