Jimi Hendrix rolls in his grave at Benaroya Hall

Sent: 11-28-2000 1:44 AM

I went to the Jimi Hendrix show at Benaroya Hall last night. First show I've seen there and first indoors rock show I've seen in several years. Rick Chinn came through with a pair of very nice tickets for Chester, and Chester called me kind of out-of-the-blue Sunday afternoon and asked if I wanted to go on an adventure.

Adventure it was, starting with getting out of town. I nearly dropped the ball on timing and we barely got on the ferry. Then we found ourselves in the midst of a pretty un-pretty but pretty high drama scene in the Taco Del Mar on the way to the show. Once we found our seats and settled in, it got vey relaxed until it got very loud.

Lots of shiny headed guys in the audience. And lots of kids with lots of money in clothes. But it was "an event" almost like going to the opera. And it was a scene, and I recognized dozens of people with whom I go back years and years.

The guy from BAM had assembled a huge band - 2 guitars, 2 drummers, 3 horns, B-3, bass, DJ with scratch machines, 2 singers - almost at the scale of some of Zappa's outfits, or the last band that came through with Mile's - a large collection of really brilliant players but in spite of their individual brilliance and individual polish, as an ensemble it almost never took off at all. For the most part, people were just playing on top of one another instead of listening. And even if a trio in the middle of it is listening, if the rest of the band isn't, it still won't fly...

In fact, a lot of it was pretty embarrassing - I described some of it this morning as feeling like some guys up there whanking til it bled but never getting off ... because no amount of devotion is ever going to make it 1968 again - and the man is irreversibly dead, and let's get real: the fact is that he would UNDOUBTEDLY be playing something ENTIRELY different if he weren't. And he certainly would have played fewer notes, if only to demonstrate that he could and eveyone else should.

Some of it was interesting, though.

About 4 tunes from the end Keith Whitley pulled off one of the most interesting explorations of guitar excess I have ever heard. It seemed like he eventually figured out how to integrate Hendrix with Glenn Campbell in a way that I can imagine fitting perfeclty on a Dionne Warwick record, if you could only turn down the volume a little. Almost as interesting as the stuff that guy from Madagascar who Miriam Makeba brought to WOMAD last summer played.

I suspect that the majority of the players in the show never even saw Hendrix play. The guys old enough probably actually chose not to, and a lot of the players were just plain too young, like the MC and impressario from Brooklyn Academy of Music who put it together was certainly under 6 years old when he died.

This problem - the generation gap thing I guess - was made extremely clear by the guys doing the lightshow. They seemed to think that images of flagging were cool enough that it was almost the only thing they did all night. Their obsession with sucking stuff the color and viscosity of blood back and forth and finally spattering it into droplets in other colored fluids in containers that looked like eyedroppers must have made Jimi's dad, who was in the front row, want to puke.
©Joe Breskin November 2000
Link to a list of other journal entries