It’s assumed that Woodstock saw Hendrix play the largest audience of his career. However, more people saw him play a set with Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell in the unlikely, sweltering setting of a soybean field in Atlanta shortly after midnight on July 4, 1970.
This excellent documentary reveals footage of Hendrix playing; he looks older than 27, as if he has lived 30 years in the last three, but still effortlessly conjuring liquid fire from his fretboard, whether on Purple Haze or an out of key but still devastating All Along The Watchtower.
Amid crew-cut interviewers or staid-looking musical contemporaries, he looks like he’s arrived from a future he would never get to enjoy; it’s poignant to hear of him talk of his hopes for humanity that the “Electric Church” of his musical experience seeks to summon.
The concert footage is preceded by interviews and tributes from the likes of Sir Paul McCartney (“we worshipped him”), and, more entertainingly, reminiscences about the Atlanta festival itself. It represented a clash of culture: Atlanta was in the grip of racist Governor Lester Maddox, the anti-Hendrix in every possible way. He opposed the festival, which saw hippies strolling about butt-naked to the horror and secret fascination of ogling redneck locals.
Mind, when the festival ran out of food it was locals who came to the rescue with food and vital supplies, ensuring the flower children did not die in the gruelling, 104-degrees temperatures for which many were ill-prepared.