NEW YORK, NY—Jimi Hendrix left us in 1970 way too young. A drug casualty to the Age of Aquarius, he also left us with a catalogue that has been dissected and resurrected more times than The Beatles. One fact remains, the music will live on and continue to inspire guitarists and musicians forever. At the Beacon Theatre, various alumni, contemporaries and the next generation ripped into the man’s songs, breathing fire into them with the gusto of a 20-something Hendrix.
Hendrix alumni Mitch Mitchell, who played in the original Experience, and Billy Cox, from the Band Of Gypsies, were the old stalwarts to young bucks Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Robert Randolph, the next generation of Hendrix-ites. Hendrix contemporary Robby Krieger, from The Doors, lit his psychedelic fire along with ex-Rolling Stone Mick Taylor as Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble rhythm section of Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon laid down the steady beats for the other guitarists to twist, tweak and screech their fuzz around.
Living Color’s Corey Glover added a gritty New York City vibe to the event as virtuoso guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, who has played with the likes of Roger Waters and Eric Clapton, rounded out the supporting cast of players. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Buddy Guy whiplashed through a set on his own, dressed in a polka dot shirt, as he commanded his band through its set of Chicago blues that played out like a seance to the dearly departed Jimi while the man’s spirit was invoked through Guy’s stellar playing and showmanship.
Guy’s “Hoochie Coochie Man” was a 10 minute showstopper in tribute to the father of the blues, Muddy Waters, who along with Robert Johnson channeled Guy’s missing link to Hendrix. Guy’s behind the back playing and dynamic personality showcased the chittlin circuit roots that he and Hendrix were raised on.
The entire night was a mash up of players and collaborations that included Glover and Bramhall II Doyle on a sweet “Angel” and a 15 minute bluesy crawl from Robby Krieger and Billy Cox on “Red House.” Krieger and Glover also took on “Spanish Castle Magic” and “Manic Depression.” The triple guitar onslaught of Krieger, Taylor, Bramhill II and Shepherd turned “All Along The Watchtower” into a furious battle of axes as each player twisted and torqued their runs around Bob Dylan’s lyrics.
Mick Taylor’s version of “Catfish,” that Hendrix often performed live at his shows, was a meandering bluesy ramble kept in line by Cox’s phat, bottom heavy bass playing. Randolph played a killer “Purple Haze” with Double Trouble’s rhythm section jumpstarting the encores. Kenny Wayne’s “Voodoo Chile” ended the tour’s seven night stand with a blistering workout of chops that screeched and roared to the rafters and back as the ghost of Hendrix beamed back smiling to a tribute well done.