Review by Phil Middleton
“How ya feeling!” screams Hughes entering the stage at the Cheese and Grain on a rainy Saturday night, despite the weather outside, inside though is hot and buzzing, the place is sold out.
I’ve been a fan of Hughes (and particularly inspiring me as a bassist) since he joined Purple, breathing fresh life into the band with the other new recruit David Coverdale. Their first of his three albums under the Deep Purple banner – was ‘Burn’ and this tour celebrates the 50th anniversary (if you can believe it!) of the release of that great album back in ‘74. They went on to record ‘Stormbringer’ after which temperamental maestro Ritchie Blackmore departed, and a final album ‘Come Taste the Band’ was recorded with the late, great Tommy Bolin. All of those albums are represented here tonight, with the emphasis being on ‘Burn’.
First up though are Montreal rockers The Damn Truth already with a long list of great bands that they have supported. They treat us to their brand of Canadian rock, Lee-la Baum has a distinctive vocal style, evocative of Janis Joplin and Grace Slick, and they see themselves as not being just another hard rock band, but with echoes of the ’60s. That’s evident from their crowd-pleasing performance here, watch this space, these guys are going places.
After a short changeover Hughes and Co hit the stage, the sound in the venue is immense with Hughes’s bass pulsing and the drums thumping out the rhythms of the songs, long-term associate Sorensen Andersen’s beaten-up strat rasping and screaming and the keyboards of Bob Fridzema echoing the Hammond sound of Jon Lord. The band are clearly enjoying themselves with huge grins on their faces throughout the gig. Hughes himself is in great form looks belying his age and vocal range still as good as it was and putting many of his contemporaries to shame.
True to the way that Purple approached their gigs there are extensive jams within the tracks, ‘Blues’ and ‘High Ball Shooter’ being “interpolated” (to coin a phrase from the Made In Europe album).
Between songs, Hughes treats us to many stories of his musical career – from how he joined Purple and wrote ‘Mistreated’ with Blackmore to stories of recording Burn. The band wrote the album in an allegedly haunted castle in Gloucestershire, and prankster Blackmore had arrived early to rig Hughes’ room with speakers to scare him with spooky sounds in the middle of the night.
There are many tributes to former band members, the departed Jon Lord and Tommy Bolin still deep in his thoughts, and he remains in touch with his friend David Coverdale. He tells us how Lord and Coverdale had discussed a Mk III reunion but were unable to reach Blackmore!
We also learn that there will be a new Black Country Communion album next April, and he and Bonamassa are hoping (not promising), subject to scheduling, to be able to tour again with that.
Most of the tracks from ‘Burn’ are worked out here from the soulful ‘Might Just Take Your Life’ to the blistering pace and drum work of ‘You Fool No One’, and the mighty riff of ‘Mistreated’. Leading to the encore we have tracks from the Tommy Bolin era – the funky riff of ‘Gettin’ Tighter’ and the awesome ‘You Keep On Moving’. Sorensen is the perfect foil for Hughes’s faultless bass and vocals, able to channel the energy and feeling of both Blackmore and Bolin with effortless style.
The only track not coming out of the Mark III and Mark IV stables – ‘Highway Star’ ushers in the encore with Hughes leaving his bass to take lead vocals before they close out the evening with the amazing ‘Burn’.
A fine night in Frome, Hughes is a timeless tour-de-force and he and his awesome band bring back to life the legend that was Deep Purple, it’s like he was never away from those heady mid-70s. Long may that continue.
Glenn Hughes – Bass, Lead Vocals
Soren Andersen – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Ash Sheehan – Drums
Bob Fridzema – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Photo credit Nigel Neve