|From left, guitarist Buddy Guy, bassist Billy Cox, drummer Chris Layton and singer-guitarist Mato Nanji during a performance of "Hey Joe" at the Experience Hendrix Tour. Photo: Robert Kinsler|
Players such as Buddy Guy, Zack Wylde and Jonny Lang make the Experience Hendrix tribute a satisfying evening.
Published: Oct. 11, 2014 Updated: 8:02 p.m.
Although Jimi Hendrix was only 27 when he died in September 1970, the Seattle native left behind a legacy highlighted by his groundbreaking guitar playing and exceptional songwriting.
The enduring power of the late guitar hero was tangible throughout the Experience Hendrix Tour stop staged at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on Friday night (Oct. 10, 2014). In a fast-moving 3 1/2-hour show that featured many of the world's greatest living electric blues guitarists, there were countless moments to celebrate at the 9th edition of the traveling tour.
The list of greats included headliner Buddy Guy, Billy Cox (the bassist who played with Hendrix in Band of Gypsys and the Jimi Hendrix Experience), Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Zakk Wylde, Eric Johnson, Doyle Bramhall II, Jonny Lang, Rich Robinson (of the Black Crowes), Ana Popovic and Mato Nanji (of Indigenous fame). Among the players holding together the rhythm section were drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tony Franklin.
Players would come and go, with the seemingly endless number of combinations resulting in thrilling renditions of Hendrix classics. A rear project screen projected artful images of the ever-youthful Hendrix as a fitting backdrop throughout the concert.
Early standouts included the show opening “Stone Free” (featuring Cox on bass and lead vocals, and guitarists Dani Robinson and Nanji sharing solo duties), “Message to Love” (featuring Rich Robinson's shining fret work) and “Ezy Rider” (boasting thrilling guitar work from Johnson). Not much later, Wylde increased the energy level at the venue with a ferocious mini-set including an epic take on “Little Wing” and metal-infused rundown of “Purple Haze.”
After a brief intermission, Popovic impressed with her slide guitar work on the fiery “Can You See Me.” Bramhill's version of “Angel” was an elegant offering, with his dynamic guitar solo-centered build enthralling the crowd. Lang kicked off his mini-set with a rousing “All Along the Watchtower” on which he played acoustic guitar while Nanji and Wylde handled electric duties. The highlight of his set was a take on “The Wind Cries Mary” with Lang singing powerfully while Johnson played a superb solo.
Shepherd and singer Noah Hunt took a heavy blues approach to their time, including during the crowd-pleasing “Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)” and “Voodoo Chile.”
The night ended with 78-year-old Guy showcased. Still a master showman and guitar player, he delighted the crowd as he was joined by Cox for his mini-set and unleashed his fast-fingered style of Chicago blues.
The stellar event came to an end with a forceful version of “Hey Joe,” with Nanji singing lead vocals and letting Guy shine on lead guitar. A special night, and a fitting tribute to a music legend, to be sure.