Gary Moore

Blues for Jimi

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Both Jimi Hendrix and Gary Moore played guitar and sang with the soul of bluesmen and the drive of hard rockers. So who better to pay tribute to Hendrix at an August 2007 London Experience Hendrix launch of Hendrix's Live at Monterey reissued DVD than the veteran Moore? And to add more gravitas to the post-DVD presentation concert, Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell and Band of Gypsys bassist Billy Cox joined Moore for three tunes near the end of the 80-minute-long set. The DVD, Blu-Ray, and CD (all available separately) capture the amped-up excitement of the night as Moore and his regular touring duo tear though some of Hendrix's biggest hits with the ferocity that Moore brings to every gig. The only criticism is the set list, which trots out the usual suspects of Hendrix's early catalog ("Fire," "Foxy Lady," "Purple Haze," "The Wind Cries Mary") which are overplayed. Whether Moore had control over that or was instructed to play tunes that hewed closely to those from the Monterey Hendrix performance is unclear. But even though he doesn't exactly make them his own, the Irish guitarist brings plenty of sweat and intensity to those warhorses. He also adds the less well-known "I Don't Live Today," which, in light of Moore's untimely 2011 passing, is strangely and sadly prophetic. An emotional six-minute reading of "Angel," prefaced by a frantic guitar improv instrumental oddly named "My Angel" that displays Moore's chops, gives him a chance to get sensitive on one of Hendrix's most ghostly and beautiful tunes. The "blues" in the album's title is spotlighted as Mitchell and Cox kick off their 25-minute guest appearance with a fiery, 11-minute "Red House," arguably the night's highlight. Cox's basslines find a deep groove (he also sings the song) and Moore is clearly in his element, whipping off solos that shift from sweet and jazzy to biting and raw. The threesome had only rehearsed once the day before, and that lack of preparation nearly sinks "Stone Free," also sung by Cox, where things get a little too ragged. But they bounce back for a punchy, nine-minute "Hey Joe" that captures the spirit of Hendrix's version while providing Moore a platform for his own six-string acrobatics that organically build to a crescendo even Hendrix would have applauded. The DVD shows how much the trio is enjoying itself, but even the audio is evidence that Moore is in his natural habitat with this material, and playing with Hendrix's sidemen is clearly a thrill. He brings back his own band for a closing ten-minute "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" that puts an exclamation point on an already outstanding performance. Why it stayed in the vaults for five years until its 2012 release is unclear, but this is a lightning-in-a-bottle treat to be savored by both Moore and Hendrix fans.

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