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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Experience Hendrix @ The Riverside Theater

March 21, 2010

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The spirit of Jimi Hendrix was alive and aloft Sunday night at the sold-out Riverside Theater for Experience Hendrix 2010, a tour to remember and revere the great guitar god.

Composed of a number of stellar guitarists and vocalists, the three-hour-plus show amazed throughout, exceeding expectations and truly honoring the genius talent of Hendrix, who died 40 years ago at age 27.

Highlights? There were many to raise the adrenaline of the packed crowd as artists coupled up and interchanged on numbers throughout the magical night.

Jonny Lang dazzled with searing guitar riffs and solos, and doubled up with Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford and his hot licks on “Fire,” with vocal backing by Living Colour and Susan Tedeschi. Tedeschi also joined the two on a riveting “Spanish Castle Magic,” in addition to accompanying Texas-based guitarist Eric Johnson on “One Rainy Wish.” Johnson brought a twangy, thumping beat to one of the jewels in the Hendrix crown, “Are You Experienced?,” updating the psychedelic pulsating drone of the 1967 classic for the 21st century.

Blues master Kenny Wayne Shepherd tore up the stage along with vocalist Noah Hunt on a blistering 20-minute cover of “Voodoo Chile.” Shepherd channeled Hendrix himself as he soared into the stratosphere, slipping into “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” as Hunt growled out the lyrics.

The funk-metal band Living Colour electrified the atmosphere early on as lead singer Corey Glover stepped up, literally, climbing onto the speakers, scaling the boxes and balconies filled with fans and climbing back down on the extended version of “Power of Soul,” from the Band of Gypsys songbook. Who knew the Riverside doubled as a wall-climbing playground? Glover certainly was in fine shape physically and vocally as lead guitar wiz Vernon Reid sped through chords as easily as breathing air.

Reid backed guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani on the early gem “Third Stone from the Sun,” with Satriani wielding his mighty guitar on the trippy tune while the other Living Colourists eventually joined in on finales of “Foxy Lady” and the Bob Dylan classic “All Along the Watchtower.”

“Thank you for keeping the spirit alive,” said longtime Hendrix bassist and friend Billy Cox at show’s end, flanked on stage by all of the night’s many musicians.