I have just been sitting watching a live streaming of the Peter Green Tribute Concert on nugs.tv, recorded in February 2020. It is an odd experience to go to a show with a friend, except your friend is an ocean away, and you are both sitting with cups of tea in your homes, not in a venue, and there is no line for the ladies bathroom or overpriced drinks. There is also no giant sitting in front of you ruining your view of the stage, or drunk people spilling drinks or food on you. OK, so the atmosphere is not what it is in person, but the experience is comfortable at least.
The venue was packed – the jolt seeing people on the verge of a pandemic, no masks, packed in, cheering lustily made me flinch. It is so last decade, darling. I doubt if we will see this particular gathering pulled together again, at least not so free, so happy, so carelessly wonderful. Our heroes are aging, there is no getting around it. Bill Wyman looked worryingly unwell, in fact. I have never much cared for old Bill, but even I wanted to go and put an arm round him, he looked swamped out there.
The rest of the crowd here is in mostly fine fettle. Mick Fleetwood looks positively glowingly strong, and Jeremy was as impish as he ever was. Ms. Perfect was positively glowing. They have aged pretty well for a bunch of old coke heads and drunks! I guess that is what money and success does for you!
There were moments of supreme levity and humor, not least of which was a very irritated Noel Gallagher …..So which one of you jesters told Noel Gallagher he “didn’t have the blues” before he went on stage? He looked shaken and more than a little annoyed and announced “we will fucking see then!” We did. He was sweet. Sweet but a bit toothless and he ain’t no Jeremy Spencer. Noel does not have the blues, but he sure has a sweet smile and a cute voice still. Mick Fleetwood reassured him that he did good, which was kind. I suppose Mick has been soothing ruffled egos for much of his adult working life, so calming Noel Gallagher was hardly beyond him. Noel is no Lindsay Buckingham diva either, and that is a good thing!
Here is more of the good: Mick Fleetwood is as much of a gentleman and an ace on that drum kit as he ever was. He held the show together, despite being a self confessed “not much of a talker.” Steven Tyler was as professional, slapping down hecklers, arranging mic stands, rolling out cool vocals with huge energy and playing a bit of excellent blues harp. Pete Townshend was as goofy and off the wall as usual, delightfully windmilling, and being self depreciating. I can’t but help liking Pete. Kurt Hammett of Metallica was shockingly good at playing the blues. I didn’t think the old metaller had it in him, but he most certainly does, he was all kinds of fabulous and more importantly his sense of fun and wonder bled over into those around him. I prefer him as an ersatz member of Fleetwood Mac than I ever did in Metallica.
The absolute stars though were not who I expected. I am not a ZZ Top fan. Well I am, but they were never really my jam. That said, Billy Gibbons was outstanding. He hasn’t lost any of his guitar chops, his voice is still as gravel and whiskey as it ever was, and he still has that presence. I don’t care about the beard or the immaculate stage presence – show me the music, shake your money makers, and when it was all shaken up, and shaken up good it was undeniable: Billy G was spectacular. The spirit of Peter is smiling down upon him throwing flowers at his door and wondering if he might like to join the band.
Johnny Lang did the blues thing he does so well, and looked to be overjoyed to be in the company of these older grizzled bluesmen, the interplay between him and Vito was outstanding. Rattlesnake Shake really shook, and Steven Tyler rocked those vocals. In fact Steven gets the award for being the quiet MVP of the gig, getting people to mics and pulling along the show.
The wheels fell off Neil Finn’s Man of the World, which was a shame. David Gilmour performed a very sloppy Albatross on lapsteel. In fact David in his Hendrix guitar strap seemed to be playing just another Pink Floyd Comfortably Numb guitar solo, and really didn’t seem to gel with anybody else. Low energy, low effort, just generally sub par – and I say that as a huge fan of his guitarwork usually. F for effort, Killer!
Jeremy Spencer was touchingly brilliant, he has always been a solid bluesman – it is the first time in 40 years plus that Jeremy has played with Fleetwood. Christine McVie was as Perfect as she always is. Mick Fleetwood has huge stamina and great presence, and that hasn’t changed. All in all it was a great show. I just am sad Peter didn’t get to see how much they all loved him.
Gibbons and Hammetts’ Green Manalishi (with the two pronged crown) is available on a limited edition, green vinyl 12” live from The London Palladium and worth a punt if you are into that kind of thing.