WATERBURY — Whether a fan of the late, great guitar wizard Jimi Hendrix looking to see how some of the world’s best living axe wielders reimagined his work, or a perennial attendee to the Experience Hendrix Tour hoping to feel the magic Hendrix left behind when he passed away in 1970, ticket-holders easily got their money’s worth when the excursion pulled into Waterbury’s Palace Theater on March 29.
Clocking in at nearly four hours, the crew for this stop included a somewhat subdued but nonetheless inspiring Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, the innovative Dweezil Zappa, left-handed blues rocker Eric Gales, as well as Texas guitar gods Doyle Bramhall II and Eric Johnson.
Fourteen-year-old Stratocaster prodigy Noah Hunt and the long, blonde and blistering work of Ana Popovic also flavored the diverse lineup.
The rhythm section was led by the star of the Experience Tour, bassist Billy Cox, the only player — apart from Hendrix himself — who was part of both the Band of Gypsys and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Stan Skibby, Quinn Sullivan, Tony Franklin, Dani Robinson, Muzz Skillings, Scott Mervis and Chris Layton, the drummer who, along with the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, was a founder of Double Trouble, rounded out the ensemble.
Set one saw outstanding efforts, especially by Zappa, Johnson, Popovic and Hunt, and included familiar Hendrix numbers including opener “Stone Free,” “Are You Experienced,” “Purple Haze” and “Foxy Lady.”
Set two’s standouts included Bramhall, who opened alone on stage with a left-handed 12-string acoustic, perfectly capturing the essence of “Hear My Train A Comin,’” switching to electric guitar for “Angel” and “Spanish Castle Magic.”
Johnny Lang jammed on acoustic as well, lending vocals to “All Along the Watchtower,” and also switched onto electric to join Eric Johnson on “Fire” and “Wind Cries Mary.”
Cox seemed relaxed and very plugged into the numbers he supported, laying down the fat bottom end and even handling some vocal work on “Machine Gun,” “Them Changes,” “Hey Joe,” and the raucous closer, “Red House.”