10 November Experience Hendrix Tour New York, NY

Been to a Vai show? Review it here. Please post in the appropriate thread for each show!
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mach1andy
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10 November Experience Hendrix Tour New York, NY

#1 Post by mach1andy » Wed Nov 10, 2010 8:05 pm

Did you attend tonight's show at the Beacon Theatre? Post your experience here!

Tom
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Re: 10 November Experience Hendrix Tour New York, NY

#2 Post by Tom » Thu Nov 11, 2010 9:13 am

The Beacon Theatre is down the street a little ways from me and I've had many concert experiences there. I think the first was the Replacements with Johnny Thunders opening. (Awhile ago, that was.) Many G3 concerts, Zappa Plays Zappa, etc. It's a great venue but last night almost went real sour for me because of the house sound. Midway through Eric Johnson's epic solo in "Are You Experienced?" -- for which he used, through the generosity of the current-owner (Paul Allen of Microsoft I think), Jimi Hendrix' very same white Strat from Woodstock -- the PA bank at the left side of the stage kicked out. I was about five rows in front of those speakers. All the lead guitar was immediately lost from the mix at my location, for the next 30 minutes or so. The sound was better from the last row at that point. Thankfully, the second Beacon Theatre employee whom I talked with must have contacted the sound people (I couldn't get to them) and with only one minor glitch later on, the sound was much better, but only after sets by Eric Johnson, Robert Randolph (pedal steel) with the Slide Brothers, and Sue Tedeschi had passed. Their stage volume and the right-side PA could not compensate and it was all muddy. Oh well. (Sue I played in a band together, a small jazz group, when we were about 15. Funnily enough, I remember her as a talented vocalist, but somewhat shy. She's come a long way for sure and she's definitely earned her great success.) When the sound FINALLY kicked in during Kenny Wayne Shepard's set the concert became enjoyable again. For $99 plus exorbitant fees I expect to hear the damn lead guitars. But thanks are due to the sound people for belatedly addressing the issue. Some people around me didn't seem to notice until the db's went way up again after the problem was fixed. I don't know for sure whether this was a Beacon problem or a band-crew problem. Eric Johnson's feedback with the Woodstock Strat didn't cause it.

But about the concert. It had certainly been fun up until that problem: after a nice intro by Janie Hendrix, Billy Cox came out with Ernie Isley and tore it up on "Manic Depression." I was impressed with Isley, to be sure -- I'd really only heard his popular hits. He played with great fluidity and energy and looked about 25 years old. Living Colour was a highlight for me and they really got people on their feet with their energy in "Crosstown Traffic." I used to see this band play numerous times at the old Ritz and CBGB here in NYC in the 80s. Their first album "Vivid" is a classic. They sound great, and Vernon Reid is as ferocious as ever. He's got such a distinctive, whole-arm picking motion and he plays a LOT of notes. "Power to Love (Power of Soul)" was a highlight. I can't remember the first tune Eric Johnson played but I was impressed with his frantic but commanding transitions from one tone-texture to another, while singing. He did "Burning of the Midnight Lamp" -- really cool. Then the appearance of the Woodstock Strat, which really did sound great through the first part of "Are You Experienced." (Janie said it had been restrung for righty players and that this was the only show of the tour where the guitar would be played.) Then although I didn't really hear the lead guitars it was Jonny Lang with Brad Whitford for a few tunes; Mato Nanji of Indigenous in there too; then joined by Sue and Living Colour again for background vocals on "Fire."

When the sound came back it was midway through Kenny Wayne Shepard's first tune, "Voodoo Chile." He too got the privilege of playing the Woodstock Strat and he was on fire with bluesy shredding. I think he was plugged into a couple of old Marshall heads and his tone was nice. He's a little busy at times but he probably caught Hendrix' own sound more closely than any of the other players of the night -- not at all that the point was to imitate Hendrix.... I kept having the thought to myself, not least when Steve Vai was onstage with Living Colour and for the last "Red House" jam -- that these guys up on stage (and gal) were having the time of their lives (or seemed to be) because they had all been inspired by Jimi Hendrix and had this chance in this little tour to live his music: through their own special talents, alongside respected peers, and for an appreciative audience. All of that adds up to a special occasion, and I think everyone knew, indeed, that it was special.

His music has meant so much to me over the years, it's always a treat to see Steve in concert. Since I've been attending shows since the Roth era I'm possibly a little jaded. I realize again now that two years ago I started writing but to date have not finished a review of the Minneapolis DVD, in part I think because I'm too much a fan. Steve can still make me smile and giggle and gape, and that happened last night too in the face of sheer showmanship; but I was especially appreciative of moments of spontaneity, since it seemed the whole Experience Hendrix show was pointed to that end, for some reason. The Jimi tunes that move me most are heavy with (lengthy) improvisation. Accordingly the highlights of Vai's set were not, for me, the acrobatic sustainer/whammy pedal trickery, which came on a bit strong perhaps in his opening number "Midnight," played in a trio with Doug Wimbish and Will Calhoun of Living Colour; but rather the delicate arpeggios of the intro to "May this be love (waterfall)" and the fierce trade-offs with Vernon Reid on (I think it was) "Love or Confusion."

Also his solo in the concluding "Red House" jam (led by Andy Aledort, with KWS and Mato Nanji as well) was outstanding, consisting primarily of a few sustained high notes with whammy abuse. The others had torn up the pentatonic scales and during his turn, Steve did something a bit different. It was distinctive and nice.

The vocal on "Red House" from Billy Cox was great too. Here, and in the concluding bows, it really seemed that all the younger cats on stage (by which I mean everyone else) showed deference to Cox who had after all helped make the music of "Band of Gypsies." ("Machine Gun" -- man, what a performance. Perhaps just as well that no one touched that song last night.)

When I think of Vai music inspired by Hendrix there's the obvious "Boy From Seattle" but "Call It Sleep" comes to mind too. That early, more natural tone of the Strat with few signal effects, the sense of spontaneity (even if the tune was all composed), and perhaps a slight recklessness or envelope-pushing: that was Hendrix all the time, on stage.

Kind of hard to believe that more time has passed in 2010 since "Flex-Able" and since "Vivid" and since my undistinguished turn as Sue Tedeschi's jazz guitarist, than had passed in 1985 since Jimi Hendrix' untimely death.

After a mostly delightful concert then the music I was inspired to listen to this morning: John Coltrane live at the Village Vanguard, and (as I walked to work) -- "Guitar" by Frank Zappa. Music is the best.

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Re: 10 November Experience Hendrix Tour New York, NY

#3 Post by budt » Fri Nov 12, 2010 7:12 am

Tom wrote: For $99 plus exorbitant fees I expect to hear the damn lead guitars. But thanks are due to the sound people for belatedly addressing the issue. Some people around me didn't seem to notice until the db's went way up again after the problem was fixed. I don't know for sure whether this was a Beacon problem or a band-crew problem. Eric Johnson's feedback with the Woodstock Strat didn't cause it.
I hear ya! There were sound issues with the lead guitars at the very first show in Pittsburgh. (see my review) This IS a Hendrix tribute after all!

Tom
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Re: 10 November Experience Hendrix Tour New York, NY

#4 Post by Tom » Sat Nov 13, 2010 10:03 am

Budt, excellent review of Pittsburgh. I'd forgotten to mention Steve's beautiful painted guitar. Someone hoped for a record from this tour, and it's very likely I'd revise upwards my own first impression of Steve's performance from a recording. Also I remembered that it was "Foxy Lady" that Steve and Vernon rocked out with. I also wanted to mention that Chris Layton and the young bass player (Scott something) were solid, all night, playing with a bunch of different acts when Living Colour weren't the rhythm section and when Billy Cox wasn't playing bass.

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Re: 10 November Experience Hendrix Tour New York, NY

#5 Post by budt » Sat Nov 13, 2010 12:07 pm

Hey Tom,
Being a native New Yorker I have been to many a Beacon show! SRV's first tour, the G3s with EJ and Yngwie, Tull, etc. I think Steve used only one hand-painted guitar in the Pittsburgh show - I can't remember now. I talk about it in plural in my review because Steve mentioned more than one in his recent Guitar World interview.

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