#151: Jimi Hendrix at the Isle of Wight (1991)

Sure, they look great, but mum’s curtains make for sweaty evening wear.

With a purple haze vocal, an upside down Fender stratocaster and some seriously psychedelic threads, Young Jimmy oozed with so much rock and roll sex appeal that it’s no surprise he’s often considered the most significant American musician of all time. Dying well before his time as a member of the 27-club, the dude’s legacy continues to live on to this day.

Jimi Hendrix at the Isle of Wight is a live performance documentary of The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s iconic 1970 headline appearance at the counter-culture music festival. Starting with various talking heads from all those troglodyte hippies , American director Murray Lerner finally provides the goods with an uninterrupted recording of the set itself.

Limited exposition, and certainly not everyone’s cup of tea (and not really mine), the documentary’s biggest achievement is being able to capture Jimi the enigma right at the height of his illustrious and creative best. Wandering around the stage like a certified god-like figure, he’s not just playing the music, he is the music.

IMDb it.

1) It’s hard to review live gig music documentaries without tying it in with your own bias on whether you like the music being documented, or not. I really love the certain frenetic-blues elements of Hendrix’s music, but I always consider him as more of studio performer than a live one. Calm down, hate mail is expected.
2) I watched this with my dad on a lazy, hungover Sunday afternoon. Dad (let’s call him Steve, ‘cos that’s his name) was there to witness the performance in person at the festival forty two years ago. I asked Steve what it was like to witness the iconic gig in person, his initial response was to say that it was “fucking freezing” and a bit self-indulgent and boring after a while. Spot on, Steve. Spot on.