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Concert Reviews:
Experience Hendrix tour brings Electric Church to the Fox

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Saturday, March 12, 2016

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DETROIT -- Jimi Hendrix may no longer be with us, but the late rock icon's spirit, and his musical concept of Electric Church, was in full, fine and fiery session Friday night, March 11, at the Fox Theatre.

With its nine featured guitarist, the Experience Hendrix Tour 2016 -- visiting just six days after "A Night With Janis Joplin" celebrated another Woodstock era hero who died the same year (1970) and at the same age (27) --paid tribute to Hendrix's catalog with an exhaustive three-plus hours of six-string heroics. It was a showcase for not only the individual players' styles -- from Eric Johnson's supple inventiveness to Zakk Wylde's crunchy metallics and Buddy Guy's old school blues -- but also the flexibility of Hendrix's material to accommodate all of them. And the show's 29 songs dug deep into Hendrix's catalog, paying full heed to favorites such as "Purple Haze," "Foxy Lady," "Fire" and more and making room for less frequently aired but equally potent pieces like "Can You See Me," "Wait Until Tomorrow," "One Rainy Wish" and "Gypsy Eyes."

It was highlight upon highlight as each of the players brought their clearly audible appetites to both pay homage and also put their own stamp on the songs. Ana Popovic played stinging slide on "Can You See Me" while Doyle Bramhall II and his band enveloped the cosmic blues of "Hear My Train a Comin'," "Angel" and "Hey Gypsy Boy/Land of the New Rising Sun." Johnson elevated everything he touched, including "Third Stone From the Sun" and "Are You Experienced?," and Wylde -- who played keyboards on the latter -- lit up the Fox by storming as far up the center aisle as his guitar cord would allow him during "Little Wing" and delivering molten versions of "Manic Depression" and "Purple Haze."

"All Along the Watchtower" came in surprisingly restrained but still powerful fashion by Wylde, Jonny Lang and Indigenous' Mato Nanji, just before Lang and Johnson teamed up on "Fire" and "The Wind Cries Mary." Kenny Wayne Shepherd tore through epic solos during a medley of "Voodoo Chile" and "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)," a nearly impossible act to follow -- unless it was Guy bringing things back down to bluesy earth with Muddy Waters' "Goin' to Louisiana," "Hey Joe," Buddy Miles' "Them Changes" and a show-closing "Red House."

Latter-day Hendrix bassist Bobby Cox bookended the night, connecting the show back to its musical roots, while Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton, bassist Scott Nelson and Nanji, who provided second guitar during many of the songs, were MVPs in their support roles.

The sheer mass of the Experience Hendrix show teetered on too much of a good thing but never quite tipped over. As the full company took a final bow after "Red House" Electric Church had been achieved, and the Fox congregation was only too happy to testify.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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