Peter Green wasn’t there in person.
But his spirit and his music were. Most of his friends turned up. And Kirk Hammett even brought Green’s guitar – on which he played “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)” – to the party.
It was just before lockdown – Feb. 25, 2020, in London – when Mick Fleetwood and Friends got together to tip their musical hats to Green. John Mayall, then 86, whose Bluesbreakers spawned Fleetwood Mac, was there, as were past and present band members Jeremy Spencer, Rick Vito, Christine McVie and Neil Finn. Former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman; Oasis’ Noel Gallagher; Pete Townshend; Jonny Lang; David Gilmour; Steven Tyler; Billy Gibbons and others were also on stage.
The sheer number of musicians spanning generations and genres says much about Green’s enduring hold on the music-making universe. That his spirit coaxed the reclusive Spencer to join Fleetwood on stage for the first time in 50 years says perhaps more.
The music speaks for itself. Even with an ad hoc house band – Fleetwood, Vito, Zak Starkey, Andy Fariweather Low, et. al – a revolving door of guests and presumably not a lot of rehearsal time, the music was never cluttered or reckless. Everyone brought their “A” game.
That’s the love and respect.
Across nearly two hours, the musicians churned out 23 songs of guitar-based, heavy blues. And the joy of the evening is neatly conveyed on the resulting full-show LP, Celebrate the Music of Peter Green and the Early Years of Fleetwood Mac.
Vito is particularly adept, leading the band through “Rolling Man,” “No Place to Go” and “Black Magic Woman.” Gallagher cools things down on “The World Keeps on Turning” and “Like Crying” and Tyler and Gibbons add sassy attitude to “Rattlesnake Shake” and “Oh, Well, Pt. 1.”
Gilmour melds appropriate “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” atmospherics to “Pt. 2” and lends delicate steel to “Albatross.” Townshend, meanwhile, adds his sandpaper voice to Danny Kirwan’s “Station Man,” whilst Spencer and Wyman tackle “The Sky is Crying” and “I Can’t Hold Out.”
Green has since died. But the fact he was still living when this celebration took place makes it all the more poignant. And the idea his music will live on has never been more assured.