Jimi Hendrix arrived in London on 24th September 1966 and gave an impromptu performance the same night at the Scotch of St. James nightclub in Mayfair. He passed away almost exactly four years later, on 18th September 1970 at the age of 27. He accomplished a lot in those four years, having had released three extremely successful and critically acclaimed albums with the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
The Hendrix at the Scotch event took place on 23rd September at the same location as that very special gig in 1966. The venue was filled to capacity, making one wonder if there could have been more people there last night than there were 51 years ago, when the guitarist was still virtually unknown.
The tribute band Are You Experienced? performed a very memorable set, with frontman John Campbell channelling Hendrix in such an authentic way that could only be surpassed if we could get our hands on a time machine and transport ourselves back to the 60s. The trio have been playing together for over 20 years, featuring bassist Mark Arnold and drummer Kevin O’Grady, who provide a solid rhythm section for backing Campbell’s virtuosity. His voice and guitar skills mimic the original to the brink of deception. Indeed, with eyes closed, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference. With eyes open, it can be noticed that, unlike Hendrix, Campbell is right-handed, which is a slight detail easy to ignore, especially while watching him play his guitar behind his head and with his teeth.
The evening was opened by the London-based four-piece the Pacers. Inspired greatly by 60s psychedelia and garage rock, they were the perfect choice to start things off and get the crowd in the mood for what was to come later. They combined a sense of nostalgia with a more contemporary alternative rock vibe in an energetic performance packed with powerful solos.
Second on the bill were Goldray, another band from London. Their unique sound combines a riff-driven psychedelic atmosphere with Leah Rasmussen’s mystical, Kate Bush-like vocals and otherworldly stage presence. Her quirkily glamourous persona and striking talent as a performer complement the music well and help create an unforgettable show. The group was formed in 2014 when guitarist Kenwyn House left the rock band Reef and teamed up with Rasmussen and bassist Geoff Laurens.
It was a special night at an excellent choice of a venue, with its beautiful, vintage-inspired décor and superb acoustics. If those walls could speak, they would certainly have a lot of amazing stories to tell, as they have seen many other legends perform on that stage, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Beach Boys, the Yardbirds, Ike and Tina Turner, Chuck Berry and David Bowie.
The event was organized by Handel & Hendrix, a museum dedicated to two incredible musical geniuses. It’s housed at 25 Brook Street, London, where the German-British composer George Frideric Handel lived for 36 years in the 18th century. Hendrix’s home in 1968-69 was next door at 23 Brook Street, and it’s been open to the public since February 2016.
The museum currently has two upcoming Hendrix-inspired events scheduled. On 8th November, musician Tom Attah is set to perform some acoustic guitar pieces, exploring the influence blues had on Hendrix. On 27th November, there is a Battle of the Bands-style competition, which invites guitarists to play their best Hendrix riffs for a chance to win a private party in the late artist’s flat.