Rome, Italy – May 22, 2007
Piazza Vittorio Emanuel II
Mrs. Phred located a concert featuring a Jimi Hendrix theme last night. The musicians were FMJO, a group of about 20 Italian performers that you might classify as talented big-band jazz. They were heavy on horns, with two drummers and a guitar.
The auditorium was about a two-mile walk north of the tourist area which ends at the big piazza with the twin churches. Crossing the streets in Rome is intimidating at times. When we found the auditorium and got our tickets, we still had time for a sandwich (paninni?) and a glass of white wine.
The huge auditorium complex had three or four different concerts going on simultaneously. The Hendricks crowd was dressed less formally in stylish Italian casual. There was an amazing amount of kissing going on in the audience before the performance. Men kissing women, men kissing men… Kiss-kiss, Hello, how are you? I’m so glad to see you again. "Excuse Me! While I Kiss the Sky."...
We missed most of the explanation of the work in Italian, but evidently a local composer, who performed with the group, has written hours of orchestral music loosely based on the work of deceased American rock star, Jimi Hendrix. There were two guest performers. One was an electric guitar player who did a credible job of reproducing the discordant and distorted sounds of Hendrix. The other was a stylishly dressed male vocalist, who sounded very much like Hendrix at times.
When the music started and they played “Hey, Joe!”, I felt an electric shiver down my back. Most of the musicians got a chance to be featured sometime during the two-hour performance. They were all very talented. One trumpet player was amazing. Most of the performers and audience could not have been born when Hendrix died, yet they obviously recognized his favorites. You could close your eyes and see the sharp musical sounds as strange bright creatures with short lives..."Are you Experienced?"
For an encore the band came back and did “Castles Made of Sand”. We grabbed a taxi for a Mr. Toad's wild ride back to the hotel and some midnight gelato. The lemon sorbet was served in a real hollowed out frozen lemon. Mrs. Phred wonders why we don’t have stuff like this back home. I guess it wouldn’t be home, if we did, would it?.
On the other hand, back home Jimmy would set himself on fire and come screaming on stage sliding down a trapeze wire from the back of the auditorium...the band did not perform Jimi's freaky discordant version of "The Star Spangled Banner"...but they did do "Purple Haze"...