Print E-mail

Green Sizzles With His Old Fire (Albany Times Union)


MICHAEL ECK Special to the Times Union

HUDSON -- Peter Green fans were ready for just about anything Friday night at Columbia-Greene Community College. The legendary guitarist and Fleetwood Mac founder was making an ultra-rare appearance (one of only three U.S. shows on this tour), and simply seeing him walk onstage would be enough for many diehards.

Green burst onto the British blues scene in the mid-'60s with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. He then founded the Mac and sculpted an ethereal yet gritty sound that influenced Eric Clapton (who for a while virtually aped Green's vocal style), Carlos Santana (who took the Brit's ``Black Magic Woman'' to the U.S. charts) and legions of other admirers.

Fame, success and drugs, however, crushed Green mentally, and he quickly spiraled into an elusive haze, even as he kept releasing albums through the '80s.

In the mid-'90s, Green's old friend Nigel Watson slowly brought Green back into the music world; together they won accolades with their electric Splinter Group and their acoustic Robert Johnson tribute albums.

Still, rumors abounded before Friday's show. Would Green, who at one point sported long fingernails a la Howard Hughes, still be playing guitar? Would he sing? Would he remember his own name?

Thankfully, Green was in pretty good form, and his fans received a solid show with a few skidmarks and plenty of bright spots.

Green played a little harp, sang quite a bit and spiked a few classic solos between other guitar noodlings.

Watson deserves credit as Green's handler and bandleader, but on Friday, frankly, he took a few too many solos himself -- occasionally while Green was trying to play one. And the entire band overpowered Green considerably in the early portion of the show.

Despite a few caveats about the workmanlike group and a few serious sound glitches, what mattered was the good stuff from Green, not the in-between.

The sweet instrumental ``Albatross'' was lovingly trotted out, with some soaring tandem harmony work between Watson and his meal ticket. A similar feel was found on ``Man of the World.''

``Black Magic Woman'' -- a little tentative -- sounded great coming out of Green's throat instead of Gregg Rolie's as on the familiar Santana version.

And for the guitar freaks, Green sizzled with his old fire on a romp through Freddie King's ``Stumble,'' and he just killed on the solos to ``I'm Going Down.'' That Green tone -- stinging, yet essentially clean -- was right there.

Green's fans also dug the Johnson tribute numbers, which were nicely set up by an ovation-earning opening set of solo blues from 72-year-old John Dee Holeman.