Michelle Godding travels to Cambridge to find out if Glenn Hughes can still lay claim to the title of “The Voice Of Rock”
After missing the ex Deep Purple bassist/singer’s show in November 2015 (due to being sick as a dog), I was incredibly thankful that there would be a new tour in 2016. The tour was to be in conjunction with the release of Glenn’s latest album Resonate which promised a “return to rock” for the musician.
I’d been gearing up for the London show, when it was announced that co-headliners Living Colour had been forced to cancel. Their management had double booked them on another tour unbeknown to the band and Glenn. The tour was cancelled, resulting in me missing out on experiencing the “voice of rock” once again. Come late 2016, second time around, the ‘Glenn Hughes-Resonate’ tour was announced. Determined to make it this time, I decide that the Cambridge date would be the best option for me.
After a relatively long journey out of London, I arrive at a complex on the outskirts of Cambridge. The luminous sign of the venue makes it easy to spot. I’m not expecting to see many familiar faces here, but as soon as I enter, I recognise several people from the scene. They had made the trek just to see Glenn Hughes again after the phenomenal London date on January 21st.
The venue is full, but not bursting at the seams. It’s a pleasant surprise to be able to order a locally brewed ale within five minutes of entering. The support band, Walsall’s Stone Broken, is one I’m not familiar with, but I already suspect it’s not going to be my thing just by their name. Not wanting to be someone that judges a band by its cover, I wander over to watch some of their set. They turn out to be talented musicians, who can clearly write songs, but it’s too modern grunge rock for my taste. I can’t really hear anything unique or exciting enough about them, so after a couple of songs, I decide to go and get another beer.
The crowd is beginning to build up for the arrival of the main attraction. During the change-over, I grab the opportunity to get a prime spot at the front barrier. Glenn’s career spans over forty years, therefore there is a vast backlog of material to pick from. Personally, I’m hoping to hear a lot of Deep Purple and Trapeze tracks in tonight’s set.
The Scandinavian band working with Glenn Hughes make their way on stage to clapping and cheering, headed up by guitarist and co-producer Søren Andersen. However, the crowd erupts into a louder applause when Mr. Hughes himself walks out on stage. Cool as anything, he’s dressed in a matching two piece waistcoat suit with shades to complete the look. Gone are the days of that white suit, but he remains as stylish as ever.
The intro tape fades out and there is a seamless transition to live music. The show opener is ‘Flow’, from the new album Resonate, and it’s a deep groovy tune with a Drop-D tuning. The band as a whole are playing incredibly tight from the get go. The prolonged chorus halfway through leading in a superb keyboard solo by the keyboardist, slightly reminiscent to those of the legendary Jon Lord.
No sooner do the last chords of ‘Flow’ phase out that the recognisable riff from ‘Muscle and Blood’ comes powering out of the speakers. A classic track from the 1982 Hughes/Thrall album, marking Hughes’ return to rock music after his post Deep Purple solo soul and funk break. The album was the result of a brief musical collaboration with Pat Thrall of Pat Travers fame. Front row, my feeble singing along is totally overpowered by the voice that is Glenn Hughes, as he belts out the lyrics to this incredible tune.
We get a taste of some Deep Purple magic with ‘Gettin’ Tighter’. 1975’s Come Taste The Band album is up there in my top ten albums, so, naturally, I’m ecstatic when I hear the intro. You can’t help but dance, even if you have no rhythm (like myself)! It’s just one of those tunes that gets you grooving along to the deep funky bass lines. This is followed by the mildly punky ‘Stumble and Fall’ from Resonate.
The pace is slowed right down and we are treated to ‘Medusa’ from the second 1970 Trapeze album. Although brilliant on the those early Trapeze recordings, Glenn’s vocals were slightly more clipped and rougher. Now he tapers off each line so smoothly, it’s bliss to the ears. After this nostalgic trip, we are brought back up to the last decade with ‘Can’t Stop The Flood’ (Building the Machine) and ‘One Last Soul’ (Black Country Communion).
The halfway point of the show has passed and I’m waiting in eager anticipation for more Deep Purple tracks. Glenn introduces Lynne Jackaman (of Saint Jude and Jackaman) on stage after an incredibly complimentary introduction. “She’s going places”, he tells us before informing us that they will be singing the classic track ‘You Keep On Moving’ from Come Taste The Band, with her taking on David Coverdale’s parts. I’m really interested in how this will sound as I have listened to the original version a million times. On the original, David’s voice is, metaphorically speaking, like butter melting in a hot pan. Delightful on the ears and perfectly harmonised with the higher tones of Glenn’s.
After about a minute into the deep bass intro, it’s completely clear to see why Glenn has such high praise for Lynne. She has a marvellously soulful voice with maturity older than her years which just carries itself across the room. In all honesty, I’m a bit shocked to be in this medium-sized venue in the presence of these two talents performing together. I really am witnessing something special here and feel incredibly privileged to be able to experience this. This is the only date that she has made a guest appearance on, so my decision to come to the Cambridge show was spot on. I make a mental note to listen to more of her music.
On a high from what I had just seen, Glenn flies solo, vocally, for the next three songs ‘Might Just Take Your Life’ (Burn), ‘Soul Mover’ (Soul Mover) and ‘Black Country’ (Black Country Communion). As Glenn and his fellow band mates leave the stage, I keep my position as I’m hoping for an encore. Sure enough, they come back on stage with a spring in their step accompanied by Lynne Jackaman, as they hammer out current single ‘Heavy’ from Resonate.
I’m more than happy when I hear the intro to ‘Burn’ (Burn) and admittedly I’m jumping around, swinging my hair and playing air guitar like I’m Marty McFly from Back To The Future. I feel a tad sorry for the people either side of me, but that emotion is soon forgotten as Glenn Hughes belts out the chorus. Air keys at the ready, I complete my tomfoolery with mock keyboards for that famous Jon Lord solo. What a fantastic ending to a fantastic show.
I can sense around me the overwhelming feeling that everybody really appreciates Glenn Hughes for putting on such a performance, especially during the difficult time in his personal life currently. Glenn, you are a true and utter star and will always be “The Voice of Rock”.