Hendrix Spirit Alive In Syracuse

Wednesday, March 16th, The Experience Hendrix rolled into Syracuse’s Landmark Theatre as an all-star cast brought the legacy of Jimi Hendrix’s music to life for the capacity crowd. Jimi’s sister, Janie, opened the festivities, welcoming the congregation to the Electric Church in celebration of the spirit and music of Jimi Hendrix.

The stage saw a revolving cast of guitarists and singers coming on and off the stage to share their renditions from Hendrix’s library. The evening started with Dweezil Zappa on lead guitar, Billy Cox (who played in both the Band of Gypsies and The Jimi Hendrix Experience) on bass and lead vocals, and Chris Layton (of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble) on the drums, ripping through “Freedom”.

The absence of an opening act was evident as it took several songs before the crowd matched the energy level of the music being pumped out of the Marshall stacks. Though, with the 25-song setlist clocking in at 3 hours with a 20 minute intermission, it is debatable if an opening act was even feasible.

Much like a well-written symphony, the onstage ensemble went through physical crescendos and decrescendos as musicians were added to and taken from the mix, providing a seemingly endless variety of ingredients to the hungry masses. From the basic power trio, to a full stage that included two pedal guitars, two lead guitars, bass, and percussion, The Hendrix Experience delivered a full spectrum of flavors through the night.

Each of the guitarists more than held their own and provided his own take on Hendrix signatures. Dweezil churned out an amazing wah-laden solo in “Stone Free”. Eric Johnson spent much of “Are You Experienced?” off in the wings of the stage conjuring supernatural feedback sounds from the amps. Zakk Wylde invoked some Jimi showmanship with both behind the head soloing, as well as literally chewing out a solo with his teeth. The Slide Brothers’ Calvin Cooke and Chuck Campbell hit unfathomable registers on their pedal guitars, most notably on “The Sky is Crying”. Mato Nanji and Johnny Lange shared a blistering solo in “Spanish Castle Magic” that had the crowd screaming in appreciation.

Then of course there was Buddy Guy, who was doing his thing before Jimi was doing Jimi’s thing. And at 79 years old, Buddy continues to do it. Buddy delivered gritty, witty lyrics in “Louisiana Blues”, and backed them up with shredding solos that reinvigorated the crowd that had started to look at their watches (not out of boredom, but disbelief and exhaustion). There is something about watching an elder statesman ripping through scales with the speed and feel that most guitarists will never know, it gives folks the energy to cheer just a little louder, a little longer.

Leaving the venue, I noted that instead of hearing conversations that started with “I wish they had played…”, what I heard mostly was “I can’t believe they played…” as the crowd was clearly pleased with how deep they dug into Jimi’s catalog. Much like a congregation after mass, those leaving the Landmark Theater appeared to be uplifted, fulfilled, and spiritually satiated, thanks to the service at The Electric Church.

For more information on the Experience Hendrix tour, visit their website here. To check out the full photo gallery by Mark McGauley, visit this link.

Cast (in order of appearance):

Dweezil Zappa: guitar

Billy Cox: bass, vox

Chris Layton: drums

Mato Nanji: guitar, vox

Henri Brown: vox

Chuck Campbell: pedal guitar

Scott Nelson: bass

Calvin Cooke: pedal guitar

Eric Johnson: guitar, vox

Noah Hunt: vox

Zakk Wylde: guitar, vox, keyboard

Johnny Lange: guitar, vox

Janie Hendrix: backup vox

Kenny Wayne Shepherd: guitar

Billy Austin: drums

Buddy Guy: guitar, vox

Guitar: Dweezil Zappa, Mato Nanji, Eric Johnson, Zakk Wylde, Johnny Lange, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Buddy Guy

Pedal Guitar: Calvin Cooke, Chuck Campbell

Bass: Billy Cox, Scott Nelson

Drums: Chris Layton, Billy Austin

Vox and Backup Vox: Henri Brown, Noah Hunt, Janie Hendrix

Setlist:

Freedom

Stone Free

Foxey Lady

The Sky is Crying

Wait Until Tomorrow

One Rainy Wish

Love and Confusion

Third Stone from the Sun

Are You Experienced?

Manic Depression

Little Wing

Purple Haze

-Intermission-

All Along the Watchtower

Fire

The Wind Cries Mary

Spanish Castle Magic

Gypsy Eyes

I Don’t Live Today

Come On – Part One

Voodoo Chile

Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)

Louisiana Blues

Hey Joe

We Gotta to Live Together

Red House

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