Peter Green Flashes Bit of Old Magic Boston Globe


Steve Morse, Globe Staff

Fleetwood Mac's original guitar hero, Peter Green , finally played in Boston again on Wednesday after a 30-year absence. In the pantheon of British blues, Green once rivaled Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck, but dropped from sight in the 1970s after some bad LSD experiences and electroshock therapy. He later turned up as a gravedigger and, while he did make some vital solo albums, essentially remained a mystery man until recently.

Green led Fleetwood Mac long before Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham came into the group - and he liberally drew from that early legacy before a reverent crowd. His voice was mostly a faded, fragile rasp, but his guitar playing still had its moments on vintage Mac numbers "Black Magic Woman," "Green Manilishi," "Albatross," and "Rattlesnake Shake," a satirical tune about masturbation.

The first half of Green's set was worrisome - a seeming case of another legend who has seen better days - but he rallied midway through (starting with a cover of Freddie King's "The Stumble") and played very competently from then on. The fire of his youth has turned into a more technique-oriented style, but there is still genius in his fingers at times.

Green and his guitar-picking partner, Nigel Watson (who propped Green up occasionally with some deft playing), also stood out during an acoustic segment of country-blues tunes by Robert Johnson, among them "Travelling Riverside Blues" and "I'm a Steady Rollin' Man." These compensated for a slow start in which Green, Watson and their band, the Splinter Group, seemed to have just gotten out of bed. Fortunately, they pulled the show out before it was too late.

Opener John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers helped make this a memorable night of British blues. Mayall, who jammed stylishly on his classic "Room to Move" and drew from his fine new CD, "Padlock on the Blues," is still in excellent physical shape and voice. His set continued the positive momentum that he's built in recent years.