Review + Photography by John Hayhurst

A year ago in ‘The Church’, a Leeds venue set in… a Church, Glenn Hughes brought his solo tour to Yorkshire, but unbeknown to us at the time when he walked out on stage that night, he had just heard the news that his mother had passed away. It was, to say the least, a very emotional night for Hughes and those lucky enough to be in the room. This hard rocker who has witnessed many ups and downs in his life was significantly reduced in stature by his emotions, but the audience here pulled him through, and he did say that his mother had expressly wished him to go on whenever it happened. That bond has stayed with him for the last 12 months and he now holds Leeds as a very special place, this time though he’s not at the Church, he is further down the road in the University Union and the Stylus bar for his Deep Purple tour.

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Hughes was in that band for only a few years, playing bass and sharing vocals with David Coverdale (later of Whitesnake fame) on Burn and Stormbringer both released in 1974. For rock historians this is referred to as the Deep Purple MKIII and MKIV. The MKIV part was when lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore left to be replaced by Tommy Bolin for the ‘Come Taste the Band’ album in 1975. The remaining Deep Purple members – Ian Paice on drums and Jon Lord on Keyboards continued with this new line up until their break up a year later. To be honest, it was never considered a great era in comparison to the MkII Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice/Blackmore times, the music was a little funkier and had an altogether different and more soulful blues feel to it, mainly down to Coverdale/Hughes/Bolin. That said, so little of that era is played live anymore so this would be a nostalgic trip down classic rock memory lane.

Tonight, opened with ‘Stormbringer’, it would have been too much of a surprise for ‘Burn’ which he would leave until the encore. From the start of hearing the taped introduction you realise that his band are probably going to be left in the shadows as Hughes stomps on the floor, wearing flared black trousers, converse and a jacket with what looked like a part of a union jack on the sleeve. Trademark shades and a gurning lip curl plus a thick head of a mane that gets shaken around with some force. This 66yr old came here to rock tonight!

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Turning up the funk though with ‘Might Just Take Your Life’ from Burn he dedicates tracks to one of the best guitarists he has ever played with – Tommy Bolin, which gets a huge cheer. Bolin like a lot of the “greats” battled drug addiction in the 70’s and sadly lost his life at the tender age of 25, the same fate could have met Hughes had he not cleaned himself up and I’m guessing he looks back with an amount of relief that he wasn’t in the same RIP list as well.

As with all classic rock touring bands we have to accept the indulgences of that genre and era – expecting some lengthy guitar solos and for a Purple tour, well Jon Lord always used to have a solo spot. Step up Jesper Bo Hansen and boy does he like to indulge during the set when he is left to his own devices. I’m not saying I was a little bored, but I’m just thankful we didn’t have an extended drum solo, because they really bore me to tears (unless it’s Neal Peart from Rush). Guitarist Soren Anderson also shared a bit of that solo spotlight with some wizardry on the frets and he had to be in top form to recreate some of those Blackmore or Bolin sounds.

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The overriding wow moments though are contained in Hughes voice, how he gets to those high octaves at his age – I have no idea, but he’s not called the voice of rock for nothing. It’s the tenderness he can produce in his range during ‘You Keep on Moving’ which also has some great bass lines and Hammond organ. This slow blues number crashes into life midway and the screams coming from Hughes larynx can make your own teeth rattle – a great tune and almost the highlight of tonight’s set.

‘Mistreated’ was greeted like an old friend with no one missing Coverdale’s vocals, providing their own during the chorus to Hughes screaming “I’ve been losing my mind”, and with a few fists in the air moments in-between. Then it all goes off the Richter scale during the seminal track ‘Smoke on the Water’ and whilst Hughes didn’t actually play on that record, he will have played it live when he was in the band, and let’s face it, there’s no Deep Purple show without ‘Smoke’ – Hughes puts his own stamp on it by adding a bit of ‘Georgia on my Mind’ giving him another excuse to showcase those high notes.

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Constantly throughout the set he was desperate for everyone in the room to be aware of the love he has for his fans and it came across as quite genuine and not a desperate cry for attention – that Leeds link from last year remaining strong. For someone who is clearly happy to still be fit and healthy and on stage doing what he loves, with plenty of fans still keen for tickets, this was a night of rock nostalgia and some impressive musicianship – Soren Anderson providing great guitar moments during encore’s ‘Highway Star’ and ‘Burn’ and that Hammond sound from J-Bo constantly swirling around the room.

Glenn Hughes has now added more UK shows for Spring 2019 of this tour, if you like a bit of classic rock, there isn’t anyone doing it any better right now, and whilst the Mk2 Deep Purple touring band can occasionally be seen live – Ian Gillan certainly does not have the same vocal range as our voice of rock tonight.

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✮ ✮ ✮ ✮ ✩ 4/5

SETLIST: Stormbringer / Might Just Take Your Life / Sail Away / Getting’ Tighter / You Keep On Moving / Keyboard Solo / You Fool No One/ Guitar Solo / High Ball Shooter / You Fool No One (Reprise) / Mistreated / Smoke On The Water/Georgia On My Mind / ENCORE: Burn / Highway Star

LISTENING: ‘Stormbringer’ (1974) and ‘Come Taste the Band’ (1975) by Deep Purple

WATCHING: Live Glenn Hughes in Concert You Tube video

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