Project Aid

Nigel Kennedy meets Jimi Hendrix. Dave Woodhall reports on an evening where many styles clashed.

Cards on the table time – I don’t know much about classical music. I know a bit about Jimi Hendrix and Nigel Kennedy, but put the three things together and I have no idea what to expect. Those in the standing-room only audience who had never seen the Hendrix Project were probably no wiser than I.

So it was with a sense of anticipation that Nigel walked on stage in an old football shirt (you can guess the colour) looking more like a roadie than a musical genius, said a few words about the evening and then into the first of the night’s pieces, a re-working of 3rd Stone from the Sun, which showcased his band’s incredible range of virtuosity, setting the scene for two hours of what could only really be described, albeit to these untrained ears, as genius.

Purple Haze is performed to the backdrop of a militaristic drumbeat, ironically in view of the evening’s cause. An acoustic Little Wing drops the tempo without lessening the intensity.

The Wind Cries Mary opened the second half with a jazzier feel, a snatch of Bartok leads into Drifting and Hey Joe (“This is not a Hendrix song”) is symphonic in its introduction before moving closer to the spirit of the Hendrix original and including snatches of the Star Spangled Banner as a finale.

Behind the image Nigel Kennedy’s talent has never been in doubt and here, in a venue more used to rock gigs, fronting a band as powerful as any that has ever graced this stage, the full extent of his virtuosity shone through. Showman wherever possible, serious musician when necessary, disciplined band leader throughout.

And the unorthodox nature of the evening continued with an encore of the Average White Band’s Pick Up the Pieces; funky, eclectic and totally enjoyable. Classical and Hendrix purists may not have cared for the performance; the man himself would surely have loved it.

This was Michael Mansfield QC’s first event in a series of Human Aid charity fundraising events and which continue between 7th and 10th April 2015 at the Assembly, Leamington Spa. This particular evening was in aid of Medical Aid for Palestine, one of the charities Michael is passionate about.

The show was promoted by Anna Christian Productions, who incredibly put the whole event together in just a month. In addition, Yvette from Anna Christian co-hosted the evening with Michael Mansfield QC. It was her first time on stage and she was relieved to get through the evening without falling over or any similar mishap.

For details of the Human Aid events at Leamington Assembly from 7th-10th March visit or call 0871 220 0260.