Wednesday night rolled around, and here was my first opportunity to shoot at the O2 Academy in Newcastle, with none other than “The Voice of Rock”, Glenn Hughes, performing a set of classic Deep Purple tracks on what is said to be a vast, multi-year, world tour, bigger than any he has embarked on since 1976. Hughes, active since the late 60’s, has a remarkable back-catalogue, including stints in Deep Purple and Black Sabbath as well as numerous other projects including solo albums, collaborations and supergroups, notably Black Country Communion. Getting the chance to see him perform some classic material definitely was not to be missed.
Opening the evening was British blues guitarist and singer Laurence Jones, who I had seen and had been impressed by earlier in the year. The bands set consisted of a run of originals with a covers of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and ‘Fortunate Son’ for good measure. Their modern-yet-classic sound complimented the headline act well, and I for one found Laurence’s several elongated guitar solos entertaining, striking a perfect balance between impressive widdle and melodic sections! The grooving bass lines and iconic Hammond organ sounds provided the perfect backing for Laurence’s talent.
Glenn Hughes and co. shortly followed, opening up with ‘Stormbringer’ during which he showed just how energetic he is on stage, roaming around, engaging with the band and the crowd alike. This enthusiasm persisted throughout the set, not just the first few songs. Hughes also established in the early songs that he is still fit for the moniker “The Voice of Rock” even now, showing off impressive range and power with nuanced dynamics. This became particularly evident during ‘You Keep On Moving’, during which the band became swathed in appropriately purple-lit fog.
A keyboard solo from Jesper Bo Hansen moved from classic-but-dirty organ solo parts into some more modern, bit-crushed sounds before the band burst into ‘You Fool No One’. The band went into and out of solo parts on bass from Glenn, shredding lead guitar from Søren Andersen and drums from new drummer, Ash Sheehan, whose enthusiasm and stick twirling antics nearly lost him his flat cap.
The solo sections offered Glenn a bit of a break before the band played ‘Mistreated’, which was clearly a crowd favourite. The song drew huge proportions of the crowd into a sing along which turned to cheering when Glenn gave short bursts of solo vocals, again outlining his impressive range from belly busting lows to impressive falsetto highs.
Naturally, a rendition of ‘Smoke on the Water’ also inspired a loud sing along. It was during this song that Glenn’s growling bass tone particularly impressed as he thumped out the famous line while peppering the song with several of his iconic screams, truly making it his own. The song quickly changed pace and featured an outro of ‘Georgia On My Mind’.
Glenn offered plenty of chat throughout his set, although much of it was simply expressing his appreciation for the turnout and for his fans in general. A particularly nice touch was his inclusion of him referencing people who he had worked with from the area, and his fondness for Newcastle in general. There was mention of a potential return next year before the band left the stage. The band quickly returned for an encore consisting of ‘Burn’, featuring an orange and purple light show reminiscent of the album cover, and ‘Highway Star’, which were two of the stand out songs in the set.
All in all, Glenn Hughes put on a great show, full of energy with a talented band and a well selected support - all of the boxes were ticked! Shooting at the O2 Academy for the first time was an exciting experience and I very much look forward to my next opportunity!