John Mayall and John McVie, both natives of Manchester, England, go back a long way together--to 1955, when they formed the Powerhouse Four as an outlet for their infatuation with rough-hewn American blues. In 1967, bassist McVie left with guitarist Peter Green to form another blues band, Fleetwood Mac; the new guitarist was Mick Taylor, who two years later succeeded Brian Jones in the Rolling Stones.

Last night at the Wax Museum, those three veterans reunited as the Bluesbreakers to show that they had lost none of their intense passion for powerhouse urban blues. Mayall's keyboard and harp work were consistently energetic, and his voice has taken on a deeper resonance that imbued classic material from Sonny Boy Williamson, Buddy Guy and Albert King, among others, with appropriately anxious anima. McVie's throbbing, no-nonsense bass bottom coursed under Colin Allen's straight-ahead drumming.

The revelation was Taylor, a superb guitarist who's been little heard in the last five years. On Guy's "My Time," Taylor's moan-like playing was slow and sinewy; elsewhere his pulsing slide work had the house shouting out its approval. Throughout the night, his attack was crisp, gut-wrenching and direct, even during subtle fills and continuations of Mayall's vocal lines.