Fleetwood Mac – Live at Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland
April 23, 1970
The April eleventh 1970 edition of the New Musical Express announced the break-up of Fleetwood Mac under the headline, “Mac Leader Quits – Peter Green Leaving on May 25”; Green may have stated his intention to leave, but he would be exceedingly busy during those last six weeks with contractual obligations.
They recorded a show at the 400 seat Paris Cinema before a live audience in London for the BBC on April ninth (available on “Show-Biz Blues Fleetwood Mac 1968 to 1970” and bootleg); then played two festivals, on the eleventh and twelfth (no recordings from these shows are known to be in circulation)
Three days later, they were in De Lane Lea Studios, to record what would become the A & B sides of the group’s final single with Peter Green ‘The Green Manalishi (with the Two Prong Crown)’ b/w ‘World in Harmony’ (recording each over the course of a day, the fourteenth and the sixteenth, respectively*)
The band returned to the studio on seventeenth and the twentieth but nothing from those sessions was commercially released until 1998 when two outtakes appeared on “The Vaudeville Years of Fleetwood Mac 1968 – 1970”.
On April twenty-first, the band then flew to Scotland for two shows. The promoter of the first show, at Caird Hall in Dundee, turned the advertisement or the show into a Public Service Announcement: “Please note Peter Green is leaving Fleetwood Mac – but not until AFTER the Dundee concert. Make sure you don’t miss one of the last original appearances of this legendary group.”
Their second show was on April 23, 1970 at Usher Hall, in Edinburgh. The band had previously played the 2,200-seat venue in October of 1969*.
For fifty years these shows were simply another two entries in the band’s concert itinerary – but now we have an audience recording of their show in Edinburgh.
In early September, 2020, I was contacted by Daniel McGeever informing me that he was in possession of a previously uncirculated show by Fleetwood Mac – the recording was made by his stepdad, who hung a portable cassette recorder around his neck and down his back under his shirt.
Daniel is uncertain as to just how many shows his stepdad may have recorded around this time, but only two others seemed to have survived, Airforce and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.
Daniel has graciously allowed me to share the Fleetwood Mac recordings with any who would like to hear them and what would have been Peter Green’s seventy-fourth birthday seemed like the perfect opportunity – a gift from Green and the band, to their fans.
Peter Green: guitar & vocal /
Danny Kirwan: guitar & vocal /
Jeremey Spencer: guitar & vocal /
John McVie: bass / Mick Fleetwood: drums
Recorded April 23, 1970
Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland
Black Magic Woman (P. Green) (8:04)
Worried Dream (B.B. King) (7:00)
Like It This Way (D. Kirwan) (4:08)
World In Harmony (D. Kirwan / P. Green) (3:23)
(Intro 0:57) / Madison Blues (Elmore James) (3:29)
Dust My Broom (Robert Johnson / arrang. E. James) (3:59)
Intro (1:48) / Albatross (P. Green) (4:18)
Rattlesnake Shake (P. Green) (3:29) / Fighting For Madge (M.J.K. Fleetwood) (5:08)
Under Way (P. Green) (9:47)
Only You (D. Kirwan) (5:08)
Stranger Blues (Elmore James) (4:55)
Tiger (Fabian) (3:33)
Oh Well (P. Green) (2:47)
Note: Running times do not include intros, tune-ups or applause
The set list is pretty consistent with the available shows that we have from January through May of 1970. Surprisingly absent are ‘Coming Your Way’, ‘Got to Move’ and ‘The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)’
Note: these may have been played and just not recorded, but I do not see how they would have fit into the existing set list – it does seem possible though that the band came back out after ‘Oh Well’ and ripped through a few Little Richard numbers or other “rock ‘n roll encore” numbers that weren’t recorded.
The set does include what is only the seventh available live performance of ‘Worried Dream’ and only the second from 1970.
Similarly, this is only the fourth live performance that we have of ‘Dust My Broom’.
You can hear the show here:
‘Black Magic Woman’ was introduced in a dramatically reimagined arrangement around the time of the Boston Tea Party shows in early 1970. (as far as we know; those recordings are the earliest that we have)
The number evolved as the band toured West Germany in March of 1970 and now it has taken on a darker hue; Green’s vocal is stronger, losing the playacting of his falling under a spell. He is no longer telling a story as much as he is performing a song; singing with the force of a conventional lead singer in a rock band.
His guitar playing also took on a growl where before it purred.
This is played more as a “rock” number, concerned more with the energy and power being put out, closer to Danny Kirwan’s riff-based numbers, or Spencer’s more aggressive takes on numbers such as ‘Stranger Blues’.
‘Worried Dream’ this performance is similar in arrangement to the last one that we have from Liederhalle, Boblingen / Stuttgart West Germany March 26, 1970.
A burst of sustained guitar serves as the intro and after it has faded to silence he shouts out his pain, a line at a time, interspersed with more scattered notes of guitar. The band holds back, as if afraid to approach him until he finishes the first stanza.
Having composed himself, he pleads with his woman, remaining calm, the notes of the guitar popping like distant fireworks, cascading in brilliant colors before fading away.
Then comes the break; over two minutes of torment.
When it is over, he is spent; the fight has left him. His alone in his room, holding the phone and waiting for his woman to tell him what he needs to hear.
‘Like It This Way’ our first recording comes the “Blues Jam In Chicago” sessions in January of 1969 and the number was a constant in their live set list from that point on.
For almost a minute, Kirwan and Green swap leads, and the tension of the previous number slowly drains.
The number is classic Kirwan, a charging riff, played with grace and style; the lyrics are simply words to sing, his inflections and emphasis of the words shaped and pushed by the music as if carried by rushing waters.
‘World In Harmony’ our first recording of this number was from January of 1970 and an additional ten recordings were captured after it. A few of the other recordings contained minor variations, with Green sometimes introducing slinking Eastern chords into the mix.
This is the first, (there are only two more after this) to be taped after they recorded the number in the studio, seven days earlier.
The performance, I have to say seems a bit perfunctory, Kirwan and Green attempting to reproduce what they had recorded, a replica rather than an original.
‘Madison Blues’ the number is prefaced with an almost minute long introduction by Green, but unfortunately I cannot understand what it is he is saying. The tone is heartfelt and the audience reacts positively, but it seems to have little to do with what follows.
There are two performances of the number available from their first U.S. tour in the summer of 1968, where Spencer repeatedly fumbles the words in the chorus.
He recorded the number during the sessions for the “Blues Jam In Chicago” sessions in January of 1969 but our next concert recording is not until December of that year, after which it became a staple in Spencer’s set list. Played at most of the recorded shows that followed.
Spencer and the band have fined tuned the number by this point and the number swings with Spencer’s guitar filling the house. Only the deficiencies in the sound quality hamper our enjoyment as Spencer captures the spirit of James’ playing not simply copying it.
‘Dust My Broom’ this is only the fifth (and last) live performance that we have of this number, and again, Spencer and the band send the number off in fine style. One can only imagine what it must have been like to be in the audience when Spencer let loose with the opening fusillade at full volume.
Early on, when Spencer played numbers built on this arrangement McVie and especially Fleetwood would seem to go into auto-pilot and Spencer could sometime get too laissez-faire with the lyrics, mixing and matching stanzas from different songs with little concern.
Here, Spencer plays it straight, singing the lyrics much as James did and playing with fire, backed, as he was on the previous number, by a surprisingly focused Mick Fleetwood.
‘Albatross’ this number too begins with Green speaking to the audience, for close to two minutes, and again, I am sorry to say that I cannot make out his words.
Green often introduced this number before performing it during his final months with the band. I believe he was extremely proud of the number (and its success) and he would often try to explain to the audience what he had hoped the number would convey, a project doomed to failure as the number was ineffable and each person hearing it will bring their own interpretation.
The number can be found on almost every bootlegged show in circulation and is the only number where there is never any deviation from the original arrangement.
This one is well played but as so often happens with the bootleg recordings, the delicate balance between the instruments is thrown off; on this recording Fleetwood’s cymbals flood the soundscape rather than wash over it and the slide guitar spikes at too high a volume, piercing the calm.
Equally jarring is the abrupt cut at the end and the few seconds of the opening of the next number.
‘Rattlesnake Shake / Fighting For Madge’ as with ‘Albatross’ this number was a staple of their live performances from the first recording that we have in October of 1969 to the last recorded version in May of 1970 – the number morphed and expanded over the more than twenty versions in circulation, coming to encompass ‘Fighting for Madge’ and ‘Under Way’ and growing in length to over twenty-minutes (without ever feeling too long)
This is one performance is incredibly strong, where the band transitions from number to the next more smoothly than usual and the ‘Fighting for Madge’ section being particularly well played.
The tracks with the opening ten seconds of ‘Under Way’.
‘Under Way’ This version is a showcase for Green and clearly shows the seeds for what would become ‘Timeless Time’ on the “End of the Game” LP. This performance captures the essence of what he achieved with the studio recording of ‘Albatross’ in a live setting.
When the number ends (he has simply stopped playing) there is a moment of silence before the spell that he cast is broken and audience breaks into wild applause. Beautiful.
‘Only You’ to our knowledge, this number was never recorded in the studio with the original Fleetwood Mac, yet Kirwan performed the number with some regularity during the band’s final tours.
The only commercially available recording of the number was on the Boston Tea Party set, and as strong as the performance was, there are others, including this one, that are stronger.
As with Spencer’s earlier recordings here, there is a sense of calm and a sense of purpose to Kirwan’s approach on the number. Despite the driving beat nothing feels rushed. Kirwan’s playing feels unforced; there is a confidence behind it that says that he knows he has nothing to prove, opening him up to new possibilities.
A worthy addition to Kirwan’s catalog
‘Stranger Blues’ as with ‘Madison Blues’ there is one recording from their first U.S. in the summer of 1968 and then the number seemingly disappeared from the set list until November of 1969 after which it was played at almost every show.
There is a noticeable drop off in the sound quality on this track, but it does not diminish the sense of energy being put out by Spencer and the band.
One can imagine the audience gripping the arms of their chair as they are pushed back in their seats by the gale force strength of the sound coming through the speakers
‘Tiger’ another high energy favorite, this was also a recent addition to the final tours. When a piano was available at the venue, Spencer would play it on this number; here, the guitarists all blast away at the number, which has the unfortunate effect of distorting the sound on the recording.
What comes across nevertheless is the fun the band is having, as is the audience, all clapping along with the number.
‘Oh Well’ the audience’s enjoyment carries over into the start of the last number, their applause keeping the band from starting. Thirteen seconds in, the opening chords of ‘Oh Well’ ring out and the band tears into the number with abandon, allowing the build to the second verse to go on just a little longer than usual.
With over sixteen live performances of the number in circulation, this easily stands as one of the most exciting. A fantastic ending to a great show.
Thank you again to Daniel McGeever for sharing this with us all.
*Timeline courtesy of Christopher Hjort, “Strange Brew: Eric Clapton & The British Blues Boom 1965 – 1970” (Jaw Bone 2007)
Special thanks to J. Stew for his help in getting this posted