GUARDIAN JOURNAL - ‘Here’s An Experience that hits you for six!’ by Richard Williams:
“If you'll pardon the pun, watching and hearing Jimi Hendrix at the Sherwood Rooms last Tuesday [29 August, Nottingham] was a supremely emotional experience. Yet the question is: How many of the 1,300 people there shared it? Naturally, there were scores of Hendrix fanatics in vociferous attendance. Like most hard-core enthusiasts, they are incapable of objective judgment and for them Jimi can do no wrong. But there were also those, and I saw many of them, who were apparently non-plussed by the startling, electrifying show put on by the American and his accomplices, drummer Mitch Mitchell and bass player Noel Redding. This puzzled me somewhat until the idea struck home that perhaps there are people who really dug the records of "Hey Joe" and "Wind Cries Mary" but are not yet ready to see Hendrix live. To be sure, you have to put up with a lot to be able to appreciate him. There were long pauses for guitar tuning between numbers, a rambling spoken introduction to "Purple Haze," and several wide open spaces where nothing at all seemed to be happening.
But what came out of the 50-minute show was a demonstration of 1967 pop music almost shattering in it’s occasional intensity, delivered with the offhand ease of Garfield Sobers [A famous West Indian cricketer] straight-driving to the boundary. And that's where, I think, Jimi wants to take us: to the boundaries of ourselves, the very limits of our souls. In his mindless thunder he tries to help us find out something about the world around—the violence and the beauty, the love and the pain. But at the Sherwood Rooms this objective could not be reached. The place was too big, the crowd too puzzled, and the acoustics cruelly sabotaged the rolling tom-toms of Mitchell. After opening with a roaring short version of "Sgt. Pepper', the group charged into Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor", which amply demonstrated Jimi's roots in the Urban Blues he heard in his youth.
Jig of joy
He spun, twisted, and bent his rangy body in sympathy with every nuance of his screaming guitar, while Redding did a little jig of joy and Mitchell threw himself all over his immense drum kit in a frenzy of jagged rhythm. "Fire," his rocking teenybopper song, preceded a rather perfunctory version of "Hey Joe," which helped to prove my pet theory that when people play their old hits faster than the recorded version they're just not interested in them any more. His
solo, played with his teeth, also demonstrated that the original was played in the conventional manner, as he never approached the fluent swing of the record. "I Don't Live Today," although short, showed that he was getting down to the nitty-gritty, and then came the real stunner when he complied with requests to play his famous version of Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone." As Mitch and Noel riffed quietly in the background, Jimi's guitar sputtered and smouldered until the phrases caught fire as he crashed out the song's chords. He sang the words quietly, and with respect to their composer, and on the last chorus he built up such a climax that the music seemed almost to continue under its own internal momentum. It lasted well over 15 minutes, and was quite simply a masterpiece, But the final freedom was realised in "Purple Haze, "at the end of which he created a beautiful sound-picture by thumping his guitar against the huge wall of speakers behind him, before carelessly casting the instrument to the ground, giving the crowd a wave and a shrug, and shambling off, followed by his henchmen. In a way, the three of them are all musical assassins. They twist, tear, and murder noise and, in doing so, present a virtual insult to the senses which can't help but provoke a reaction. Mitch may well become the most important of them all, because he seems to be on the way to developing a new style of rock drumming, based less on the insistent splash of a cymbal than on a ceaseless torrent of sound from all the devices at his disposal. He is on his way to almost totally arithmetic playing, with no steady beat or pulse, but whether THAT innovation is ever accepted only time will tell—after all, you won't be able to dance to it!"