This double-album, in-concert set (which features three new songs) documents the pervasive role that Lindsey Buckingham now holds in establishing Fleetwood Mac’s mood. Buckingham embodies the band’s extremes: on the one hand, he’s an accomplished technician of both the guitar and the recording studio; on the other, he’s an onstage eccentric, grimacing through extended solos that confuse virtuosic wit with labored playfulness. While Live offers nice, smoky versions of Stevie Nicks’ “Sara” and Christine McVie’s “Don’t Stop,” it’s Buckingham’s Tusk raveups — and ravings (listen to him work the crowd) — that dominate the LP.
Overall, Buckingham emerges as a likable, hard-working oddball, one whose excesses are usually justified by the beauty of the finished product. Despite all the eye shadow, his taste is lively and near impeccable: his idea of covering an obscure early Beach Boys tune, “The Farmer’s Daughter,” is enthralling, eerily lovely and finally as obsessively unconventional as Fleetwood Mac themselves.