Rock: Chip off the old block

Peter Green Splinter Group Ronnie Scott's, London

It took some time for the Splinter Group to make their way through the crowd, but then Peter Green was up there, smiling and looking incredibly relaxed for a man who has journeyed to the heart of darkness. His lime- green shirt traced a belly like Barbapapa's, and little tufts of grey hair stuck out from under his cap like the feathers of some wise old owl. On a night when Fleetwood Mac's founder took another large step towards reclaiming his genius, this was the first of many special moments.

Naturally, such occasions generate a certain amount of gratis applause. Just three songs in, however, Green's sweetly-intoned phrasing ensured that we didn't need to patronise or excuse. The song in question was the 1968 hit "Black Magic Woman", and as his treacle-rich voice oozed out of the PA like some ambrosia, toes curled and pupils dilated.

"Big Mouth" sounded oddly contemporary and Prince-like, and later, during "Rattlesnake Shake", you could hear how Green's fat and sweetly frazzled guitar sound has influenced ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons and countless others. Just as his gaze held the middle-distance rather than the audience, so we too focused almost exclusively on him, rather than his band. However, one has to acknowledge his fellow guitarist Nigel Watson, who seems to anchor Green both musically and psychologically and has been an important source of inspiration through each stage of this miraculous comeback.

The acoustic interlude mid-set showcasing Robert Johnson songs from the Splinter Group's forthcoming album was quite sublime. On "Steady Rollin' Man" Watson demonstrated his mastery of Johnson's fingerstyle playing while Green breathed delicate, rolling phrases into his harmonica. It was sweetly intoxicating, and a reverent silence was maintained throughout Then, just when we were wondering where they could go from there, Watson introduced the Street Angels, a gospel quartet who added a thrilling stamp of authenticity to Johnson's "If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day" and "Last Fair Deal Gone Down".

The evening's most moving moment, though, came when Green's and Watson's guitars joined in the limpid harmonies of "Albatross". The tune is such a staple of the classic rock canon that its live performance takes on a surreal quality. For a few minutes, it could have been 1968 again.

Anyone who saw the BBC's 1996 documentary tracing the first faltering steps of Green's comeback would not have believed that he was still capable of such a potent, soulful performance. Seems that when Green went down to the crossroads, the Devil forgot to read the small print.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

    £37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

    Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

    £25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

    Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

    £16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

    Day In a Page

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea