Review by Fred Rudofsky
It was the best of concerts and the worst of concerts. Yes, I’m celebrating and exploiting the genius of Charles Dickens in my lead, but that is far less egregious than what too often took place during a sold-out Friday night concert at Albany’s Palace Theatre that paid tribute to the genius of Jimi Hendrix. Call it a paradoxical experience.
NOTE: I make these observations as a fervent admirer of Hendrix’s music and the inspiration he derived from a variety sources such as the blues, soul, folk and Native American culture. I have always viewed him as complete musician, not a wild, hedonistic guitarist like so many still do.
The Experience Hendrix show was the best concert in the sense that it was uplifting to see local support for the music and memory of one of the greatest musicians the world has known – and the song selections were also far more eclectic than what had been the case six years before when the tour touched down in Albany. Yet it was also felt like the worst given that the celebratory nature of the night felt contrived, even exploitative. I even found myself drawing up a wish list of musicians, not just guitarists, that I thought should have been included on the bill (Joanne Shaw Taylor, Cassandra Wilson, Buddy Miller, Trombone Shorty, Michael Hill, Cindy Blackman Santana, Gary Clark, Jr., Steve Winwood, Hamell on Trial – who saw Hendrix play Syracuse in 1968 – to name a few). At times throughout the nearly 3 1/2 hour event, I thought of one of Hendrix’s most prophetic lyrics: “But as far as I know, they may even try to wrap me up in cellophane and try and sell me…” How can anybody celebrate properly a musician, who casts such a long shadow?