Band Of Gypsys At Fillmore East: New Year’s 1970

Second Show:

  1. Auld Lang Syne
  2. Who Knows
  3. Stepping Stone
  4. Burning Desire
  5. Fire
  6. Ezy Rider
  7. Machine Gun
  8. Power Of Soul
  9. Stone Free/Sunshine Of Your Love
  10. Them Changes
  11. Message To Love
  12. Stop
  13. Foxy Lady
  14. Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
  15. Purple Haze

The second show was considerably longer in length than the first, as was standard at Fillmore East during this time. Before the band start playing, concert music is played through the speakers to bring in the New Year before the band run through Auld Lang Syne. The ending of this song is simply sublime as Hendrix creates a musical landscape consisting of nothing but feedback before launching into the next track, Who Knows. This is without a doubt one of the best performances from all four shows as the fuzz feedback from Auld Lang Syne goes straight into Who Knows. The riff from this song is exceptional. Funky, bluesy, perfect. Essentially a jam song based around the initial riff that opened the song, it’s one of the most enjoyable moments from the second set. Stepping Stone follows in what would be the first of only two live performances, the second being during the early show the following day. It’s a great song but after an electric performance of Who Know it sounds a little sounded, almost as if the band members are holding back a little. This could have been because it hadn’t been played live before but Machine Gun hadn’t either until the previous show and that sounded fantastic. Buddy Miles on drums wears a little thin at times with the exact same beat with no changes going on for the entirety of the song. Mercifully, the Band Of Gypsys move on to Burning Desire. The opening jazz like rhythm hypnotises you a little before the main riff explodes in your face, however, at two and a half minutes long this version dwarfs in comparison to the near ten minute version which ended the previous set. “Ok, we’re going to play something else,” says Hendrix as the band bring the song to a halt.

Fire comes next and you can instantly hear how drastically different the energy level is on this song compared to the previous two, especially when Hendrix plays the famous Sunshine Of Your Love riff midway through the song. Even though Cream had broken up over a year earlier (26th November 1968),  their influence on him remained. Ezy Rider follows before the band launch into Machine Gun once again which ignites the venue. The band play this for nearly fourteen minutes and you can only imagine what those seated right in front of the stage are going through in their paralysed states. It’s more of a laid back version compared to the early show but that doesn’t mean any of the explosiveness if taken away, it’s just being projected in a different way. Hendrix’s wah-wah blows the cobwebs away and before you know it, it’s all over. Power Of Soul opened the early show but finds itself deep in the mix here with that funky riff sounding oh so good. Out of all the songs the band played at Fillmore East during these two days, the funky songs definitely sounded the best due to Buddy Miles and his funk abilities.

Stone Free is a classic example of Buddy Miles just not sounding as good as Mitch Mitchell. If you listen to any version of Stone Free with Mitch Mitchell on drums he sounds effortless, but Buddy Miles sounds too plodding here, too heavy footed. This is evident at the seven minute mark where Miles embarks on a drum solo you wish would end sooner rather than later but four minutes later it finally does with Hendrix and Cox returning for a full Sunshine Of Your Love segment which sounds fantastic. But one of the finest moments of the New Year residency is Them Changes, a Buddy Miles song which continues one of the funkiest riffs you’ll ever hear. Miles sounds great on lead vocals which lets Hendrix sit back and do his thing with the wah-wah which only adds to the funk magic being produced. Message To Love continues the funk theme with Buddy Miles and Billy Cox on backing vocals being a particularly enjoyable highlight. Stop follows

Bob Feldman (Fillmore East Usher)

“I was working as an usher in the first balcony, a great vantage point for sight and sound. We had special t-shirts that said something like Happy Fillmore New Year. This was the first and only time I had heard Hendrix. I remember his version of “Auld Lang Syne” which was given the “Star Spangled Banner” treatment ala Woodstock. I also remember Buddy Miles bombastic (not in a good way) drumming which was very loud and busy. I remember the Cold Duck that was on the stage after the show. It was not for the ushers but we were able to score a few bottles. Most of what happened after the Cold Duck was a blur.”

Roy Forest (Audience Member)

“At that time I was 22. Jimi was a god and I had Row M center! I remember the six Marshall amps he played through and the unbelievable power they produced. He had me pinned against the back of my seat for the entire show. In regards to that show, Jimi was Jimi: a genius at work! I left in silence due to the raw power that that show produced and I didn’t want to speak.”

Jerry Wilder (Audience Member)

“The shows were all sold out. An artist relative of mine forged me a ticket to a nonexistent seat number, so I had no seat. I stayed in the balcony and managed to not get thrown out!”

One of Hendrix’s finest ever moment on guitar was when he played Foxy Lady at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and he dusts it off here for by far the best performance of the second set. The song is one of three classic Hendrix Experience songs that they would play to end the show and as soon as that riff takes off after the fretboard feedback Hendrix creates, mayhem ensues. It’s nothing but classic Hendrix without any restrictions and this one performances makes everything that came before it seem irrelevant in terms of any lack of energy the band may have been feeling. When the song ends the band leaves the stage before shouts of “more” can be heard from the extremely excited audience. When the Gypsys return, a second Hendrix Experience song awaits the eager crowd in the form of Voodoo Child (Slight Return). To my ear it sounds like Hendrix is using a lot more fuzz on the Hendrix Experience songs than he had been doing in every other song during this late show. It couldn’t be anyone else but Hendrix playing the guitar at this very moment. Even when you listen to a recording of this performance you can feel the power coming at you through the speakers. If that wasn’t enough, the band go straight into Purple Haze which is the final song of this set. None of the energy of Voodoo Child (Slight Return) is lost and if anything they pick up more energy along the way. An exceptional end to the show.

Yes, there were moments during this show (from the recording at least) where the band seemed to be lacking in energy and the Buddy Miles solo during Stone Free wasn’t his finest moment, but the set ends with members of the crowd shouting “oh my God” and “he left us totally destroyed.”

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One thought on “Band Of Gypsys At Fillmore East: New Year’s 1970

  1. Jerry says:

    I found that album one night at a friend’s house band of gypsies and it happened to be my birthday and for some reason I couldn’t stop listening to ” who knows “and it just kept going over and over in my mind into the next day and to this day I guess it’s somewhat obscure but it’s one of my all-time favorites Who knows by Jimi Hendrix.

    Like

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