A photo gallery of the band up to 1970 .
Reviews of two shows I attended
9-17-67 The Saville Theatre. London.
I had a love affair with Fleetwood Mac for the first couple of albums. At the time I was heavily involved in listening to and watching the bands who were part of the British Blues boom . Mayall, Chicken Shack, Jeff Beck ,Cream , Aynsley Dunbar and of course, Fleetwood Mac.
I would be telling you a lie if I pretended that guitar
pyrotechnics were not a big attraction with most of these bands, it was after
all ,the era of the axeman and the extended solo was something that appealed
to my teenage tastes. However, I always tended to shy away from mere technical
virtuosity as displayed by the likes of Alvin Lee
and Jimmy Page . I think I understood the axiom " Less is More
" even at that early stage and I was more interested in the degree of soul that
the guitarist projected than the number of notes they could squeeze into any
given bar . In this case Peter Green was probably number one on the list .
He exuded SOUL .
I was only able to see the early Mac a couple of times. The first time , very early on in their career at the Saville theatre in 1967. I think this poster is advertising the show I saw .
Its certainly the same line-up. We attended the matinee- as we were still school kids and the parents would not countenance us spending a night in London - and this show was very sparsely attended . The Saville is a big theatre and I doubt if there were 200 folks there . Lots of empty seats. But the bands filled the space with the intensity of their playing and we came away more than satisfied with the experience.
Looking back now though, we had been ripped off regarding seats. We were about 15 rows back and there were acres of empty seats in front of us , now of course I would have just moved closer. But we were just young sproggs and the presence of ushers and the very emptiness of the venue dissuaded us from getting up and decamping to the front seats .
A very nervous looking Mick Taylor had taken Peter Green's place in the Bluesbreakers and he spent the entire night with his eyes glued to his guitar, probably feeling more secure looking at that and making sure he wasn't making any mistakes than facing the audience , who were certainly looking at Mick with a critical eye . Who envied the poor lad, trying to take over from Peter Green ! Still Peter had had exactly the same experience when he stepped into Eric Clapton's shoes a year earlier in July 66 .
I was a great Clapton fan and was saddened when he quit the Bluesbreakers , but I happily embraced the new guitarist when I heard his sound on A Hard Road, this guy Green was super talented and as usual Mayall had picked a superb replacement . I also particularly dug the horns on Hard Road, as I've always been a sucker for big bands and the horn driven riff . Ironically, this was precisely the factor that drove Peter Green out of the Mayall camp, as he considered the use of horns as a betrayal of the pure blues sound he was searching for .
John Mayall hardly ever played
in Wales, so we never got to see him when PG was lead guitarist. Mortified,
we listened to A Hard Road ,realizing that Green was gone and we would
not get a chance to see him with Mayall. However, when we heard of the formation
of Fleetwood Mac we made plans to get to see them
as soon as we possibly could, and the Saville gig seemed tailor made as it featured
almost all the bands we were obsessed with at the time .
By this time John Mcvie had
left Mayall but the press announcement had only been released a
week before this concert, so this may have been the first show with John
on bass. In those days it was almost impossible to keep up with the changes
in British blues bands personnel. The whole scene was incestuous to the
extreme . I'm sure a good third of the players in this nights concert
had all played in John Mayall's band at some time.
Still all that was in the future, this was a new band and full of the energy and fire that fresh musicians and new material can give to a musical unit. We were totally impressed by the Mac output. Jeremy Spencer was a riot ! Both leprechaun sized and spirited, he laid down his Elmore James numbers to GREAT effect. Although over a period of years his contribution was to prove limited, the first time one experienced him in the flesh was awesome . He exuded energy , belting out his numbers with a spirit and bounce that turned one into a convert within the first few bars of his opening song , which I think was Dust My Blues.
After Spencer's opening numbers, we were treated to the Peter Green show, where the maestro proceeded to treat us to a series of immaculately played and sung medium paced blues numbers . Eventually the Mac were to become a much more frantic and possibly exciting Blues Rock outfit, with many extended jams, at this time they were a band that were dedicated to playing conventional blues and playing it bloody well.
This they proceeded to do , much to our delight. No show biz trappings here , no flash stage costumes, just music that came from the heart . At the time, no one in the UK was playing this stuff any better. Above all apart from the solidity of the rhythm section , it was Peter Green's genius that set this band apart from all the others , he could do more with the medium on his own than all the other British bands put together .
A great set.
Then Master Spencer returned to blow us all away with some more bottleneck blues , which worked up the crowd ( such as we were ) most nicely. As far as I remember Peter Green did not play any instrumentals other than Rambling Pony this night, but I might be wrong, after all its been over thirty years since I saw this show. I have strong visual memories of the players on-stage , but I can't always recollect the songs themselves.
This is the set list from the Fleetwood Mac show Aug 15th 1967
and a radio session from Sept 9th ,the band did not play at the Saville for as long as
they would have in a pub setting, but they definitely played many of the songs
on this list. I've asterisked the numbers I think they played on Sept 17th .
Talk To Me Baby *
I Held My Baby Last Night
My Baby's Sweet
Looking For Somebody
Evil Woman Blues *
Got To Move
No Place To Go
Watch Out For Me Woman
Mighty Long Time
Dust My Blues *
I Need You, Come On Home To Me
Shake Your Money Maker *
Long Grey Mare *
Red Hot Mama
I Believe My Time Ain't Long *
Rambling Pony *
4-26-69. Sophia Gardens Pavilion Cardiff .
BB King, Fleetwood Mac, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and Duster Bennett
Two years down the track and much closer to home, but less satisfying than the earlier gig, mainly due to the shortness of the set allowed Mac, but also because we were a lot further away from the stage . Sophia Gardens is not anywhere near as nice as The Saville. A barn in comparison. Whereas the Saville is one of those old theatres, lots of velvet, boxes and plaster carvings around the stage , Sophia Gardens is spartan, has no fixed seats and doubles as a venue for garden shows and all manner of assorted crapola, in other words it was not designed with musical events in mind.
However, we should not let that get in the way of the fact that this WAS a good show, with all the artists turning in good to great performances. Duster Bennett was a weirdity , a blues based one man band , basically the sort of set up you used to see on street corners , a busker set up with drum, hi hat , harp stand and guitar. The co-ordination needed to get this lot going in time was pretty phenomenal , but Duster had a good act going and at one time I used to have quite a few of his singles . He was fun to see on- stage as long as he didn't play too long , as the limitations of the genre became evident after a half hour or so. In this case it was just about right, he went down well.
Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee were two legends of acoustic blues, they were phenomenally good, their combination of guitar and harp playing was unique . These guys were one of the first blues acts I ever heard and they were responsible for getting me into the music in the first place . They were one of the main reasons I was at this show and they did not disappoint . Although they must have been in their sixties at the time they still delivered in a major way. Sonny Terry ranks as one of the best ever harp players in my book, he just wailed and broke my heart with every note!
Then Mac were on to warm up the crowd for BB King, it says something about their status at the time that they were billed above Terry and McGhee, although they probably were not popular enough for them to headline and fill venues like Sophia Gardens or the Albert Hall in their own right. However, they were greeted with just as much respect from the crowd as the authentic blues acts from the states received. One must not forget that the old white men can't play the blues argument was very much alive and kicking a the time, but this was not in evidence on this night and as the group worked through their short set they proved that they could give us a taste of the blues as well as the overseas acts. The sound had changed with the addition of Danny Kirwan, obviously an extra guitar gave a fuller sound as Green and Kirwan alternated between rhythm and lead. Unfortunately I can't give many details of the songs played, although I'm sure Spencer did a few songs on bottleneck and Green did do a very moving version of Albatross . Apparently the group understandably complained about the short time they were given to play ,a truncated set means that most bands cannot really get properly warmed up . but even so ,this short exposure to the 69 Mac was better than no exposure at all and I enjoyed every minute of their set.
A 45 minute tape of the Albert Hall set of this tour exists, unfortunately the copy I have heard is awful , but at least it does give an idea of what was played on this tour.
BB King was of course the main attraction of the night, and I was knocked out by his great band and playing , but it was interesting to see the contrast between the suited and choreographed BB King band and the casual and totally non show biz orientated Mac. I didn't see any harm in BB 's show biz leanings ( although I think that nowadays they've gone beyond the pale- ten minutes of handing out guitar picks to sycophants down the front of stage is just TOOO excessive ) - but apparently the members of Fleetwood Mac hated it.
Thanks to Chrome Oxide for the use of Fleetwood Mac song info used in this site, his site has much useful information on British Blues bands of the 60s such as Ten Years After, Blodwyn Pig and others
Visit Chrome Oxides Fleetwood Mac info pages.
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