Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1970/05/08 - The Fieldhouse, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK - The Jimi Hendrix Experience

The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The Fieldhouse, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

Set List for The Norman Oklahoma gig:

Spanish Castle Magic
Machine Gun
Lover Man
Foxy Lady
Hear My Train A Comin'
Message To Love
Red House
The Star Spangled Banner
Purple Haze
Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

Another great show from The Cry of love Tour of 1970, Jimi really blew the house away with incredible versions of old materil along with lots of new material he was working on for his new album and the material that made it's way from the Band of Gypsys period. Machine Gun is given a flamenco orientated intro that is unlike anything else Hendrix has done live, very ethereal and powerful. Hendrix was very intune with the political landscape of the time, and the killings at Kent State definitely had their affect on Hendrix's mood, paticularly during Machine Gun, Red House and Hear My Train a Comin', some of the shows biggest highlights. As Jimi did with a lot of shows past mid 68, he closed the show out with Voodoo Child (Slight Return), and this version is quite compelling when comparing it to other versions performed live. Jimi was now looking forward and the Cry of Love tour shows are very forward statements from an artists who was desperatly searching for what was next. - Erik Otis

From Just Ask The Axis:

From Chris Dixon's 30th Anniversary Series © C S Dixon
May 8, 2000 marks 30 years since Jimi played the Field House at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK. Unrest at American college campuses on this week was at an all-time fever pitch, with the protests over the escalation of the Viet Nam war having boiled over into the killing of 4 students at Kent State University in Ohio at the start of the week (as a paperboy in nearby Cleveland, I remember delivering the headlines the next day). The Univ. of Okla. was no exception, with protests, marches and confrontations taking place up to and surrounding Jimi's shows. It would be a mistake to presume exactly what was on Jimi's mind at any given point but there was some undeniably urgent music made this night, and the mood of the week surely played a part.

There were two shows by Jimi this night, a relative rarity at this point in his career. The second show was recorded on reel to reel by a Lee Agnew. Copies of the tape had circulated for years in varying quality, some quite dire, but only in the last couple of years was the original master reel located and digitally copied for a *vast* improvement in quality to most collections - yet another example of the need to constantly seek out and share Jimi tapes! The tape is quite good quality as period audience recordings go, with some tape speed variations (especially later in the show, common as recorder's batteries begin to fade) and a few cuts. The mix is good with vocals clear and the guitar not overpowering, so the taper must have been off axis of the Marshalls and back a bit as there are some boomy hall acoustics evident. There's nice solid bass (could've been equalized on remaster, if so it was a good call IMO) and Mitch is well heard except during the very loudest sections.

(Setlist): Fire; Spanish Castle Magic; Machine Gun; Lover Man; Foxy Lady; Hear My Train; Message Of Love; Red House; Star Spangled Banner; Purple Haze; Voodoo Child (SR)

'Fire' begins a bit unusually with Mitch setting up a drum pattern and Jimi repeating the first two chords a couple of times before starting the song proper. He may be having a little guitar trouble- nothing obvious, but he skips some words on the chorus before the solo and fluffs a couple of notes at the modulation. He slips in the quote from 'Outside Woman Blues' during the stops after the solo then drops out altogether, perhaps to sort out something with his gear. Mitch continues with a good 4 minutes of drum solo. Jimi re-enters with the same 'Outside Woman' riff then does a little more soloing before hitting the last verse. The drum solo makes this version over 8 min. long, unusual for 'Fire'.

Jimi is heard to introduce SCM as "..a little Spanish Castle (makes sound as if hitting a joint, then in a choked voice as if holding it in)....Magic", immediately hitting the opening riff! The solo atypically starts with some longer sustain/feedback notes then gets faster at 2:15 with the wah added just after (this is a spot where Mitch gets lost a bit in the din). Short solo leads to final verse at 3:15 and a little more soloing to end at 4:20 for a fairly short version.

Jimi asks crowd to "...forget about the hogwash and bullshit..." and dedicates 'Machine Gun' to "...the soldiers fighting in Chicago, Berkeley...Kent State (meaning the street 'soldiers' no doubt), Oklahoma (the last two amid cheers)...". Jimi then plays an off-the-cuff 1:30 intro that is one of the most haunting things I have ever heard! All of Jimi's music reflects his genius, but sometimes everything just falls into an even deeper place, and this is one of those times for me (every Jimi fan has their own, of course). Somewhat silly to try and pick apart such organic flows of imagination, but just to describe it in general, he starts with some lines from his 'Bolero' piece, moves to some sliding intervals ala 'Castles Made of Sand', segues to some flamenco style lines, then finishes with an absolutely brilliant chord progression that mixes some *very* high-on-the-neck notes with open strings, every note ringing out perfectly and the tension setting things up for the release of the familiar 'Machine Gun' opening. Again, we can never know what Jimi was thinking but I've always thought of this unique piece as a chilling eulogy for the Kent State victims, perfectly conjuring the mood of the moment. After this one-of-a-kind intro, Billy pushes the groove over Mitch's military rolls as Jimi gets into about a minute of soloing before the vocals enter, including a very Spanish-sounding run at 2:40. The main solo starts at 5:00 with some long wailing notes, then Jimi lets his own bullets fly like rain with some intense faster playing. At 7:00 they do the secondary riff and Jimi sings of a mother weeping and crying for her son in the war. At 8:25 we get a mini feedback 'symphonette' then some more high speed soloing, leading to 'Taps' at 9:00. Billy's bass is especially resonant, the low E note acting as a sort of low tolling funeral bell. At 10:00 Jimi does the 'rat-a-tat', then does a bit of quieter playing with the 'wobbly' whammy vibrato, back to the rat-a-tats and trails off with a final tail of feedback, saying what sounds like "..right back to home.." at the end. A standout rendition.

Jimi lightens the mood with some sort of joke about funny "cigars" going around to much laughter, then intros 'Lover Man' with a crack about a 300lb guy "coming up the street" to surprise the protagonist. Features some offbeat (literally and figuratively) playing coming out of the 'Flight of the Bumblebee' section!

'Foxy' starts to show some extreme tape speed fluctuations. Since it's about the midpoint of the tape the reel apparently runs out, the tape cutting in and out then stopping altogether prematurely at 2:15. Unfortunately the speed fluctuations continue throughout the second half but aren't too distracting for the most part.

'Hear My Train' starts this time with Jimi singing the chorus line acapella. Sounds like he sneaks in a little tuning during his opening riffs. He does some clean playing with the wah, leading to the vocals. He goes into the main solo at 2:45. At 4:00 we hear some held trills bent up and down with the whammy ala the BoG 'Machine Gun'. He hits the last "gonna leave this town" verse at 4:35 and stretches it out, with longer sections of soloing between the vocal lines. A nice little climbing fill after the last stop. More soloing ends to a slightly abrupt ending at just under 8:00.

'Message of Love' sees Mitch getting them into a double time feel coming out of the solo. This and 'Machine Gun' are the only 'new' songs at this show, with 'Roomful of Mirrors', 'Ezy Rider' and 'Freedom' conspicuously absent. Not many shows featured *all* the newer songs, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were performed at the early show as Jimi often seemed to treat double headers as one long show of sorts.

We hear the buzz of guitars being switched and 'Red House' again features the familiar 'quack' of the Flying V, Jimi having gotten it the previous weekend (on reflection, maybe he took delivery of the custom made V directly from a Gibson factory rep since he'd been in the upper midwest and Gibson at that time was in Kalamazoo, Michigan ?). He toys with the opening triad again at the start of the second verse. Some sweet blues bending leads to the verses at 1:50. Mitch's rimshots during the verse are plainly audible, a type of detail lost on many audience tapes! Middle solo is a full three 12-bar verses long, Jimi's tone pretty clean throughout even while the playing gets more intense. Adds wah for the 3rd round and slips in some nice sliding intervals. A cool little arpeggio at the very end.

Tape cuts to Jimi introing 'SSB' with some words about how "we used to have to sing it all pretty" but now they're gonna do it the way it is! We hear him briefly toy with a 'Bolero' type phrase with the Univibe then dedicate the anthem to "...all who have died for various causes, all the ones who will, all those that fight in the streets...". This version features some extra feedback effects at the start and a few more embellishments on the melody lines. Right after the "flag was still there" line we hear a nearby firecracker, the gunshot-like sound startling and a bit ironic on this week. At the end the guitar stops and Jimi says " the spirit of the day, dig this..."

...and launches into 'Purple Haze'. This night "...the pigs put a spell on me". We get a little teeth playing in the main solo and, per usual, in the tag.

'VC(SR)' follows a brief introduction of the band. The solo here sounds especially piercing and trebly (must've been *loud* in front of those Marshalls!). Some ascending unison bends at 2:30. Unfortunately, the tape runs out for good during the solo at about the 3:30 mark.
A good show and well documented. Wish we could hear the early show!


For a comprehensive overview of this incredible performance, with lots of photos and quotes, click here

Download the most current version of an audience recording made for this show here. Speed corrections and drops outs have been removed from the original tape that was circulated amongst collectors, this is a really great recording that has had some much needed work done to it.


  1. Hear Jimi's message......


  2. Replies
    1. Yes! Bloodrock did open!

    2. Yes! Bloodrock did open!