Glenn Hughes announces he is going on the road to play a set of classic Deep Purple, my ears pricked up. Mk3 Deep Purple is quite possibly my favourite incarnation and Glenn Hughes is one of my top rock vocalists, so this was surely going to be a treat!
Is there a better way to kick off a Deep Purple classic set than Stormbringer? We’re straight in at the deep end here. While I’ve never been a fan of David Coverdale as a vocalist, I always loved him with Deep Purple, but for me, these songs really come alive when Hughes steps up to the mic. The band is tight, though the guitar was a little lost in the mix from where I was standing. Hughes delivers every word like his life depends on it.
Straight away we’re kicking into Might Just Take Your Life and Sail Way. This era of Purple is often overlooked. Many people forget that they had some stellar material after Gillan. The Mk3 and Mk4 Purple band really tapped into an earthy, raw blues-rock sound compared to the bands much heavier preceding albums. Sail Away is just an instant head mover. You cannot hear that infectious riff without the head bobbing along.
Time to get funky as the band kick into Gettin’ Tighter. The original clocks in at 3 and a half minutes but live, the band turns this into a mammoth 13-minute jamathon with Hughes taking the lead in the middle of the track and showing his bass playing skills as he lets rip with some lead breaks.
Glenn pays tribute to fallen friend Tommy Bolin before the band fire into You Keep On Moving to raucous applause from the Cardiff crowd. Glenn told the room that Tommy is still with him every day and perhaps he’s right, the band delivers the song with the same energy you’d expect them to have as young men in 1975.
The great thing about playing with a guy like Glenn is that you know you’ll get your spot to show the world what you can do, keyboard player Jesper Bo Hansen makes his Hammond scream and shouts in ways you could never imagine before the band jumps into the cowbell-heavy gallop of You Fool No One.
Next up, fleet-fingered guitarist Soren Anderson get’s his moment. I’ve been a fan of Soren for a long time but had yet to catch him perform live as last time I saw Glenn perform, he had a stand-in due to Soren having other commitments. For the next few minutes, the room watches in awe as Soren sets the fretboard on fire and then launches into the bluesy stomp of High Ball Shooter.
Next up, for me, the highlight of the show, Mistreated. This song is my all-time favourite Deep Purple song and if I had to pick a single track from Glenn Hughes lineage that for me would be the stand out track, this would be it. I honestly think, no one in the world sings it as well as Glenn. He delivers every single word with the passion and conviction of a man who truly has been mistreated. It never fails to blow me away.
Having not checked out the setlist ahead of the show, I assumed that it would be purely focused on tracks from the Mk3 and 4 eras, but much to my surprise the band rounded off the set with a storming rendition of Gillan era mega-hit Smoke on the Water coupled with a stripped down version of the Ray Charles song Georgia on my Mind. Hughes shows off his huge vocal range many times over the night but really lets it fly during Georgia as he tickles the upper echelons of what the human ear can perceive.
Encore time and Hughes professes to the crowd that they know what’s coming next, and we sure do. The band launch into Burn and the room goes nuts. This is what it’s all about. High energy, high octane rock and roll.
As all great nights, unfortunately, this one also comes to a close as Glenn passes his bass to his tech and assumes the vocalist role as the band play yet another Gillan era track, Highway Star. Having witnessed Gillan sing this track with Deep Purple just a year ago, I can honestly say I think Hughes delivers it better. His range is untouched, and he still has the conviction and energy of a 20-year-old rock star with the world at his feet.
Proving night after night that age does not diminish your ability to rock. Glenn Hughes is the real deal. He’s a fantastic singer, incredible bass player and all-around artist. My mind is blown yet again.