Experience Hendrix Tour
October 10, 2014
Los Angeles, CA
Review & Photos by Junkman
Jimi Hendrix died September 18, 1970 at the age of 27, but all these years later his spirit lives on. If you are like me, you ask yourself, "What if?" More than just about any modern guitarist, Hendrix's skills and innovation are and were admired on a completely different level than any other, and not just because he passed at such an early age. It is because of what he did in about three years of recording and solo performance surpasses what most musicians take a lifetime to even approach. Jimi just did it better than anyone else.
And on a beautiful October evening at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, many of his admirers came to pay homage. Thus the Experience Hendrix Tour 2014 featured a vast array of said admirers, most of whom were too young to see him when he was alive. There were, however, a few that not only saw, but also played with Jimi Hendrix. One, in particular, was his army buddy and Band Of Gypsys’ bassist Billy Cox, who got the night started with three of his favorite Hendrix numbers — "Stone Free," “Power Of Soul” and "Message Of Love," featuring a stellar supporting cast, including long-time Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton, Indigenous guitarist Mato Nanji, and some blazing guitar work from Dani Robinson.
The Black Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson, along with Layton, bassist Scott Nelson and others, like Henri Brown on keyboards and vocals, brought out his spin on some Hendrix classics, and soon welcomed out to the stage Austin, Texas guitar wizard Eric Johnson. They blasted through a stunning version of “Crosstown Traffic” and “Ain't No Telling” before bringing out vocalist Noah Hunt from Kenny Wayne Shepherd's band. He added his signature growl to "Ezy Rider" and "Are You Experienced," which featured guitar god Zakk Wylde on keyboards.
Things really picked up steam from there as the trio of Wylde on guitar and vocals, Tony Franklin on bass and Layton drove the crowd of Hendrix fans crazy with a revved up version of "Manic Depression" that Wylde absolutely went "Wylde" on. He seemed to channel his inner Hendrix with every note, and the sold-out crowd responded. The trio then lowered the tempo with a bluesy take on the classic "Little Wing," in which Wylde took a walk through the audience while playing his guitar. Then he cranked out an absolutely thunderous version of 'Purple Haze," which brought the crowd to its feet and ended the set.
After a brief intermission, Yugoslavian-born guitarist Ana Popovic did her thing, providing some killer guitar work on a couple of Hendrix numbers, notably her excellent slide work on "Can You See Me." Another Austin-based guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, sporting a very early Hendrix style afro, then stepped up and played some soulful versions of "Angel" and "Gypsy Boy."
Next, Johnny Lang gave an acoustic guitar reading of "All Along The Watchtower," accompanied by Zakk Wylde and Rich Robinson. This was followed by a stepped up "Fire," which had Lang and Bramhall playfully dueling it out on guitar. Eric Johnson then joined the fold for "Wind Cries Mary," which brought out a bit of a sing-along on the chorus, courtesy of the Greek Theatre faithful. “Spanish Castle Magic" featured dynamic three-way guitar interplay between Lang, Bramhall and Robinson that just had to be witnessed. To me, it was one of my favorite parts of the show and there were many.
Not to be outdone, guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd then took over onstage. Armed with his terrific vocalist Noah Hunt, as well as bassist Tony Franklin, and Mato Nanji occasionally on guitar, Shepherd played a four-song set that brought the show to a different level altogether. Riff after riff from this native of Shreveport, Louisiana, brought gasps from the crowd, as he rewrote Hendrix classics like "Voodoo Chile" and "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return…)" in his own heavy blues-based style. Shepherd is a true virtuoso and the players onstage gave him plenty of room to shine. He did just that.
Only one person in the house could have followed Shepherds’ set — a living one, anyway. And as the announcer introduced him, the crowd reacted with a huge applause. "Ladies and gentlemen, from Chicago Illinois, Buddy Guy…” And just like that, living legend Buddy Guy appeared onstage and told the crowd a brief story about playing with Hendrix for the first time. He then got down to business, showing everyone why he was Hendrix's guitar idol. Along with members of his regular band, as well as Billy Cox on bass, he played a mix of Hendrix songs and covers, like Muddy Waters' "Big Leg Woman" and "Rock Me" featuring his sweet tone on his white Fender Stratocaster. Guy is a master of the "bended note" and he gave his strings a real workout as he finished the set with "Red House" and the Buddy Miles classic "Hey Joe," always a staple of Hendrix's later sets.
Buddy Guy is first and foremost a true bluesman, and again, a living legend. He is also ageless, and has the energy of a teenager when he is onstage. As the Greek Theatre stood in unison in applause, the entire cast, including "Experience Hendrix L.L.C." President and CEO Janie Hendrix (Jimi's sister) smiled, waved, and bowed, ending a truly magical night here in Hollywood. You could almost see Jimi Hendrix smiling face in the moonlit clouds above, enjoying a truly marvelous tribute.