Saturday, July 16, 2005

Jimi Plays Berkley - Live # 1, Jimi Hendrix, May 30 1970

"He was very self-effacing about his music but then when he picked up that guitar he was just a monster." - Paul McCartney

“Seattle-born Jimi Hendrix lived in Berkley as a small boy. On May 30, 1970, he returned as the reigning superstar of rock. Jim’s Memorial Day concerts in the 3,400-seat Berkley Community Theater came on the heels of fatal student uprisings against the Vietnam War. The inflamed intensity of his music reflects the most violent weeks in the history of American campuses and the most divisive in the land since the Civil War. This was Jimi’s Cry of Love tour…” - from the back of the box that held the tape.

The inclusion of film footage from events in Berkeley at the time makes the film very evocative. People are protesting outside of a movie theater that is showing the film Woodstock, because the film is not being shown for free. They are confronted by individuals who don’t like what they are doing. The language of some members of both sides is violent and hateful. A girl wears a button that says, “Today’s Pig is Tomorrow’s bacon.” In the Berkeley riots, children, who couldn’t have been more than 12, can be seen throwing rocks in the direction of the police. At the Berkeley Community Center Theater, fans have senselessly smashed windows.

I will give Jim credit; he wanted to be a reconciler. On, “Machine Gun,” a camera close-up shows him crying, and he’s not doing it for the crowd.

The cinematography is poor, but the songs are passionate, intense, and focused performances. I found, Johnny B. Goode to be uninspired. One critic says that back in those days first songs were just warmups.

The Song List from Live #1:
(the film has been broken into two tapes, of which this one is just the first hour)

1. Johnny B. Goode
2. Hear My Train A Comin’
3. Star Spangled Banner
4. Purple Haze
5. I Don’t Live Today
6. Hey Baby (Rising Sun)
7. Lover Man
8. Machine Gun
9. Voodoo Chile


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