The London Palladium
I have not been so excited going to a gig for years. Peter Green was my first musical hero but I never saw him in his pomp (I was 12 years old when he quit Fleetwood Mac) and I have never seen the later incarnations of his band, much though I love many of them.
The line-up for this one-off celebration (two years in the making, according to our host, Mick Fleetwood) kept growing. Mick said that Billy Gibbons and Steven Tyler were the first two people to say yes, and everything else grew from there.
The Then Play On House Band for the night were:
Rick Peterson – keys
Rick Vito – guitars
Dave Bronze – bass
Jonny Lang – guitars
Andy Fairweather Lowe – guitars
Zak Starkey – drums and percussion
Mick Fleetwood – drums
I’m going to get the order of this wrong – it was bit of a blur as people came and went – but the show started with a run of early Mac songs, with Billy Gibbons, Steven Tyler and Christine McVie joining at various times. Billy G was just perfect for this. You realise what a great blues player he is and always has been. He sang Doctor Brown. Tyler was the perfect frontman, still has the pipes, and blew a mean blues harp as well on the Otis Rush song, All Your Loving. John Mayall came on and sang a restrained version of Rattlesnake Shake. Chrissie then sang Stop Your Messin’ Round (she has lost the top end of her voice and Tyler had to keep singing with her) and then one of my fave Mac songs, Looking For Somebody. Incredibly, Tyler left the stage for this one, so we never got to hear him wail that harp on it. Tragic miss.
The stage was then set up for an acoustic set. Noel Gallagher walked onto the stage. I had seen his name added (very late) to the posters but…….. Cleverly, he said “You’re all thinking, Ah, Noel Gallagher that famous blues man. Well, let’s see, shall we?” The audience laughed with him and he did a very passable version of Sandy Mary, Love That Burns and The World Keep On Turning. He left to a huge cheer.
After another set-change and a couple more electric early Mac songs from the band, and out comes Pete Townshend. He talked about Peter, never having met him in his prime, but befriending him later on when Greeny was living in Richmond, had nails like talons, and looked like a tramp. Pete had chosen Station Man, from Kiln House, which was recorded after Greeny had left (Pete did acknowledge that) and, as he demonstrated, has the exact same riff as Won’t Get Fooled Again, which came out 6 months after Kiln House. It was a pretty good version, with Pete hamming up the windmills as the 3 others guitars piled in towards the end.
And then Neil Finn sang a beautiful rendition of Man of the World, a song he has been singing live with Fleetwood Mac. It was a real crowd-pleaser and caused my first tear.
Then came my highlight of the night – Oh Well. Billy G and Steven Tyler were joined by Kirk Hammett from Metallica (I had real reservations about him because you had the feeling that he was only there to show off the fact that he owns ‘Greeny’, Peter’s famous Les Paul Gold Top – but he did okay and kept out of the way, reining in his shredding tendencies when he soloed) and, with Mick and Zak hammering the drums at breakneck speed, it really sounded like those some of those brilliant live versions that I have, when Peter was in his pomp, and he and Danny Kirwan were flying.
Then, Billy, Tyler and Hammett (or Dirk Spammett as my Metallica-hating brother christened him) left and the lights went down. The band began playing the opening to Oh Well Pt2 and, out of the shadows emerged David Gilmour. He picked up a black Strat and played over the top of those mystical chords until he then stretched out into a stunning blues solo. It brought the house down, with Mick shouting that that was the only time Part 2 had ever been played on stage.
The band then played Need Your Love So Bad and rattled through a great version of Black Magic Woman before Mick came to the front of the stage to announce a surprise guest. Jeremy Spencer! Out came the diminutive member of the original band, who played (brilliantly) The Sky Is Crying and his Elmore James party-piece, I Can’t Hold Out. He looked bemused by the audience going apeshit but it really was ‘a moment’ for any old Mac fans.
Gilmour then came back out to accompany Rick Vito (the star of the show, a one-time member of F Mac in the late 80’s and a member of Mick’s Blues Band, in Hawaii) on Albatross. DG played lap steel and the lighting and stage effects were just perfect. I may have had something in my eye at that point.
Then it was the customary pile-on when almost everyone came back out, for Shake Your Moneymaker. These things are normally chaos but Rick Vito directed solos and it was just a really fun end to a great night.
Me, times 3,000+. Loads of people had travelled from the US and even farther afield.
It made me think..
It made me think how talented so many musicians are, what a great singer/shouter Steven Tyler is, what a wonderful player Gilmour is, how much I love Billy Gibbons and how good it was to see and hear 71 year old Jeremy Spencer ripping into some old Elmore James. But mostly it made me appreciate Mick Fleetwood for putting this on for Teenage Cancer Trust and to celebrate his old friend. And, what a great drummer Mick is. That shuffle is tough but he absolutely locks it in place and Zak Starkey was grinning from ear to ear with some of the stuff Mick was doing.
And it made me think of Peter Green and how many wonderful songs he wrote and how much pleasure his voice and guitar have given me, over the years.
A top night.