Gerry Joe Weise and Noel Redding
1996 Jimi Hendrix Festival featuring Noel Redding
30th Commemoration for the first Jimi Hendrix Experience concert 1966/1996
The Congress Center in Evreux, France, Tuesday 15th October 1996

Indianapolis 46220 USA WINTER 1996/1997 issue N# 41
Kathy Etchingham, Noel Redding, Gerry Joe Weise blues guitarist,
Jimi Hendrix Festival 1996. (photo ABM)

THE EVREUX EXPERIENCE 30 YEARS LATER... It was 30 years ago, just after Chas Chandler left the Animals and decided to go into management, discovered Jimmy James at the Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village, and invited Jimmy to London. Jimi set foot on English soil at London Heathrow Airport on September 24, 1966. After settling in and a week of rehearsals with the newly formed Experience, Jimi set off as guest act on a four concert French tour with Johnny Halliday.

On Wednesday, October 12, Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell and Jimi Hendrix arrived at Le Bourget Airport in Paris. The next day the Experience played their first concert at the Novelty Cinema in Evreux.
In 1996, Etienne Keith organized a commemoration of the first Experience concert. The event was held at the Palais des Congres (aka The Congress Center) in Evreux on Tuesday, October 15 (two days after the original date due to the schedule conflict at the Center). Of course, the Jimi Hendrix Experience originally played at the Novelty Picture Theater, but that has now been turned into a shopping mall.
Tuesday was a typical Autumn weather day, though mild, the sky was grey : rainy day, dream away, I guess the sun went on a holiday.

Noel Redding and More Experience, Jimi Hendrix Festival, (ph Weise).

Inside the Congress Center was a spacious concert hall, with an immense stage which had to be dissected with huge black curtains. During the soundcheck and last minute rehearsals, I could see a wealth of, or more likely an exhibition of old vintage equipment. You name it, it was there : from late 60s brownish Marshall stacks, mid 60s Fender amps, old 60s Ludwig drums, early 60s L-series Stratocasters belonging to both guitarists, right down to Fuzz Faces, Octavias, Wha Whas, Univibes, and a couple of non-Hendrix stage effects - a couple of 60s Copycat Echoplexes !

Noel Redding, Jimi Hendrix Festival, (ph Lambert)

The two groups billed for the night were Gerry Joe Weise, with Australian guitarist/vocalist Gerry Joe fronting a French rhythm section consisting of Philippe Dandrimont on bass and Pascal Caron on drums. More Experience, a Swiss trio, had Marcel Aeby on guitar/vocals with Henry Imboden on bass and Marco Brander on drums.

Noel Redding and More Experience, Jimi Hendrix Festival, (ph Weise).

Original Experience bassist Noel Redding was special guest, arriving very cheerful, did a short soundcheck, and then went off with everyone at 6 p.m. to the shopping mall where the Cinema used to stand to unveil a commemorative tablet of the first Experience concert in presence of the City Mayor. Back at the Congress Center in the entrance way, there was an exhibition of photos and Hendrix memorabilia exhibited by Caesar Glebbeek (Univibes Fanzine).

The concert got off to a great start with a packed audience of 1,000. Gerry Joe Weise opened on stage with a "Hear My Train A Comin'" guitar solo leading into a fiery "Voodoo Chile" with a "Star Spangled Banner" medley. Two originals followed - "Inside Outside", a fusion instrumental number inspired by Hendrix, and a ballad called "Southern Cross", played as Gerry Joe explained to the audience that every guitarist has his own "Little Wing". He reflected that it was a little scary on stage because you could feel Jimi's presence in the air. "Purple Haze" with a drum solo came next with "All Along The Watchtower", both of which can be found on Gerry Joe Weise's new disc A Letter To Jimi. "Freedom" was an all out funky version, while "Red House" was your classic blues approach with Gerry Joe playing guitar behind his back. It has all been said that "Gerry Joe Weise pays complete respect to Hendrix via personal interpretations", and that sums up well the originality and musicality he infused into that night's performance.

Noel Redding, Jimi Hendrix Festival 1996, (ph Lambert).

After a short intermission, More Experience took to the stage doing Hendrix covers from their new album Freedom. The Swiss band, which has been together for 10 years now, is an all-out-note-for-note Hendrix show. Taking off with a perfect "Spanish Castle Magic" rendition. Marcel Aeby and company exploded through a set that included "Lover Man", "Ezy Rider", "Power Of Soul", "Sunshine Of Your Love", "Like A Rolling Stone" and "Straight Ahead". When they broke into "The Wind Cries Mary", they called for Jimi's girlfiend Kathy Etchingham on stage. Looking as radiant and youthful as ever, she talked about the beginning of the Experience, Chas Chandler, and of Jimi. The audience gave her a warm standing ovation.

Gerry Joe Weise, Jimi Hendrix Festival. (photo ABM)

Then Noel Redding came out in an astral long sleeve t-shirt and a black vest with gold symbols looking quite flashy. He gave a speech in French then strapped on Henry Imboden's battered '61 Fender Jazz bass, turned up the Marshall bass amp stack to full-on and belted into a spirited "Killing Floor" as the crowd went wild. It certainly sounded like the Experience, it just goes to show how imporatant Noel was for the Experience sound. Jimi's genius along with an excellent rhythm sound from Redding and Mitchell created one of the best unique sounds in rock history.
Noel Redding was strutting around the stage effortlessly with difficult songs like "Come On" and "Manic Depression", looking like Noel Redding of 30 years ago when he was only 20. Kathy Etchingham and her husband, Candis (Noel's lady), Gerry Joe Weise and Etienne Keith were all floored, standing near Noel behind the curtain. He certainly had given it everything he could for Jimi.

After the concert, blues guitarist Gerry Joe Weise, Kathy Etchingham,
 Noel Redding, backstage Jimi Hendrix Festival 1996. (photo ABM)

To end the concert, Noel took up a guitar and plugged it into a '67 Fender Super Reverb, turned it up, and left it rumbling on stage, as he sang and played "My Babe" to a happy crowd clapping along. After the ovation, Marcel Aeby came off stage and said Noel was in great form (they had played together numerous times previously).
Backstage with Noel Redding and Kathy Etchingham, one could swear that at any moment, Jimi would come walking through the door. There was a feast for the musicians and friends after the concert. Then everybody went back to the Mercury Hotel very sagely, no mischief. I guess everybody is getting a little older. Lay back and groove on a rainy day.

M. Thevenin, Voodoo Child Magazine.