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Concert Reviews:
Jimi Hendrix fans get experienced at Fox Theatre

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, November 19, 2010

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DETROIT -- The late Jimi Hendrix's influence and legacy loom large over the rock world -- and merits an equally sizable tribute.

And the Experience Hendrix tour offers that kind of, well, experience.

Overseen by the family-run company of the same name, Experience Hendrix gave the famed artist his due, and then some, on Thursday night (Nov. 18) at the Fox Theatre with three hours of musical heroics delivered by guitar luminaries such as Steve Vai, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Aerosmith's Brad Whitford, Jonny Lang, Eric Johnson and more. It was exhaustive and exhausting, and it left the small but exuberant crowd at the Fox both sated and satisfied that, if they can't see the real thing anymore, the "imitations" by the corps of two dozen musicians were pretty darn good.

You could drop the metaphorical needle into any point of the 27-song show and find something worth the price of admission alone, whether it was Living Colour's muscular "Crosstown Traffic," with frontman Corey Glover roaming the Fox aisle while guitarist Vernon Reid slid "A Few of My Favorite Things" into his closing solo, or a gospel-flavored rave-up of "Them Changes" with Glover ministering in front of a crew that included a trio of steel guitarists -- Robert Randolph, Chuck Campbell and Detroit's Calvin Cooke -- trading licks with Los Lobos members David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas and late-period Hendrix bassist Billy Cox. The steel players also lit things up with their fiery rendition of "Purple Haze."

Because guitar heroedom is such a macho pursuit, Susan Tedeschi was a breath of fresh air, shaking her spangly dress as she soloed during "If 6 Was 9," "Spanish Castle Magic" and, with the Los Lobos duo, "Little Wing," while deferring to Johnson on "One RAiny Wish." Ernie Isley, who grew up with Hendrix living in his house when he was working with the Isley Brothers, paid homage with "Stone Free," "Message to Love" and "Manic Depression," and Johnson showed both taste and technique on "House Burning Down," "Burning of the Midnight Lamp" and "Are You Experienced?"

Lang brought out the only acoustic guitar of the night to kick off "All Along the Watchtower," while the biggest fireworks came during Shepherd's long and emotive medley of "Voodoo Chile" and "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" and Vai's feedback exposition during "Midnight," as well as his romp through "Foxey Lady" with Living Colour." An encore after all of that may have seemed superfluous, but "Red House," with Randolph, Tedeschi and Indigenous' Mato Nanji, was an appropriate nod to the blues at the base of all of Hendrix's work.

Sheer length and a dodgy sound mix put a drag on some points of the show, but by the time the full company took a final bow on the Fox stage those in the crowd could indeed say they were Experienced -- and happily so.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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