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What's on: The Hamsters

The Hamsters are performing a string of dates across the North West including Bolton on December 2, and Barrow-in-Furness on December 4.

The Westmorland Gazette: What's on: The Hamsters in Colne What's on: The Hamsters

Too often The Hamsters are referred to as a “Jimi Hendrix tribute band”.

In fact, the trio are much more than that, playing mainly their own original blues-rock of which singer and guitarist Barry Martin, aka “Slim”, says “it’s fair to say that anyone who enjoys the music of Eric Clapton would enjoy our songs”.

And although on their current tour, the trio are marking the 40th anniversary of Hendrix’s death they still reject the “tribute” tag.

“We’re not a ‘tribute’ — we’re not interested in trying to be Hendrix,” Slim says.

“It’s very playful, but I don’t set the guitar on fire or anything. We just try to play his music as sensitively as possible.

“But Hendrix himself played around a lot with his songs on stage — they sounded different every time — and we adopt that attitude to what we do; it’s not a slavish copy of the recorded version.”

Nevertheless, they have always had a soft spot for the rock singer, who Slim describes as “the archetypal rock icon”.

He says: “He was the first guy to ever really use the guitar to paint what you could call ‘sonic pictures’.

“It was revolutionary — he was a real innovator, he was an incredible showman and most important of all was his songwriting. Even today his first three albums are invariably listed in the top 100 rock albums of all time.”

The Hamsters formed in 1987, and their set has always included a sprinkling of cover versions, including Hendrix; their 1990 debut album Electric Hamsterland was completely made up of Hendrix covers.

Slim says: “Although we are a band in our own right, since we got going we’ve always done a bit of Jimi Hendrix stuff.

"We haven’t done a full Jimi Hendrix tour for 15 years — since the 25th anniversary of his death — but it’s really good fun. You get a lot of parents bringing their children and saying, ‘this is what proper music sounded like.’”

* The Hamsters play Albert Halls, Bolton on Thursday, December 2; and Forum 28, Barrow-in-Furness on Saturday, December 4.

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