Before a legend hit the stage tonight, there was the not so small matter of tonight’s support. Jared James Nichols was tremendous. Let me portray how this man feels about what he does… You can’t teach the blues. It’s not something that can be codified in music books, or learned on YouTube. It goes much deeper than that. It comes from the inside. It’s about the way the guitar strings are bent and the sound gets transmuted directly from a player’s soul. It’s simple at the end of the day. Either you’ve got it, or you don’t.
Tonight I discovered a new axe god to bow to. His alter is large and welcoming, your adulation will be greatly accepted, and he is a humble god. He will meet you after the show. He will look you in the eye, and he will sell you anything from a signed album to a drumstick.
He was the perfect person to fill the support slot tonight. It was like picking the perfect starter to your favourite main course. He did say at one point, “You are so quiet”, something that is never said in Glasgow, as we will let you know if we love or hate you in a heartbeat, but I feel the man is so humble he had no idea what an effect he had on the audience tonight. We were taken aback at his skills on a fretboard, not to mention his vocal skills.
A brilliant blend of blues and rock all rolled into one amazing show. You will get moments of full-on rocking out, and some real quiet periods of some soul-baring screams from an electric guitar. This band must be checked out to see the talent they possess. I cannot commend them enough.
Okay confession time. As much as I fully understand how important to rock music that Led Zeppelin were/are, I was never truly a massive fan… I know… hang the bastard. For me, Deep Purple were THE Rock band from the 70’s that deserved all the acclaim and adulation (something that they still sadly lack to this day). Another confession…I feel that the Mk.III line up of ‘Purple are just as important to the legacy as the Mk.II line up, with one of the reasons for that train of thought being Glenn Hughes. Along with a young David Coverdale, Hughes brought a different style to the classic Deep Purple sound and gave the band a fresh impetus, rather than merely rehashing the Gillan/Glover era. Growing up, many a night was spent watching the Deep Purple California Jam 1974 VHS video W.aching slack-jawed at not just Blackmore blowing shit up onstage, but the vocal dynamics of both Coverdale and Hughes. Therefore, it’s fair to say, that tonight was a gig that I had been eagerly awaiting for some time.
Taking to the stage to, what else but, “America, What Time Is Love ?”, the KLF track from the mid eighties that Glenn Hughes sang on (billed as ‘The Voice of Rock’ no less), the band plug in and blast their way straight into the title track from the Deep Purple album “Stormbringer”. Hughes sounds incredible. He’s still able to hit every note with crystal clarity some 40 years after the album was originally released. Former Whitesnake and Dio guitarist, Doug Aldrich, lines up on the left sporting a stunning, if battered Fender Stratocaster (talking Rory Gallagher type battered here), which the musos on the front row are salivating over. Bringing the thunder at the back on the drums is Swede Pontus Engborg (who Hughes later describes as “a 6′ 5″ motherfucker”). A giant of a young man, who batters away with furious, total abandon.
“Orion” from Hughes’ ‘Soul Mover’ album follows on, and Hughes is all over the stage, proving that yet again age ain’t nothing but a number (64 if you must ask). He hits notes that younger vocalists would shy away from and his bass playing is as mind blowing as usual. It’s only when you watch him live do you realize how much other bassists ‘borrow’ from him. Hughes loves a good traditional power trio and Trapeze was the first of many that he has played in. We are treated to “Way Back To The Bone” from his pre-Deep Purple days, with Hughes paying a heartfelt tribute to his close friend, and former Trapeze bandmate, Mel Galley, who sadly died back in 2008…”In the sixties we had Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and for me, Mel Galley… he was that good”,the song ends with Hughes looking up, and raising his hands to the sky in an emotionally charged finalé.
Another highlight was when Hughes delved into the classic Hughes/Thrall album from 1982, an album that should be filed under ‘Every Home Should Have One’. It’s amazing to think that such a powerful album could come out of such a dark period in Hughes’s life. Before introducing “First Step Of Love” he said that the song was recorded in 1982…”A year that I don’t remember… which is not as grandiose as it sounds”. Do yourself a favour, and check out the album online… a much loved masterpiece.
A special mention must go to Doug Aldrich. Much more than a hired hand (his name appears on all tour advertisements), he has formed an almost instinctive performing partnership with Hughes, who describes him as “Not only one an incredible person but one of the best guitarists on the planet and we are lucky to have him as he is in such demand..”.Hughes also mentions the fact that it was “his great friend and brother Ronnie James Dio” that introduced them. Aldrich’s playing is on fire throughout the night, and each song takes on a new lease of life with added guitar fills and extended solos that look effortless. Both himself and Hughes obviously enjoy playing together, as each solo from Aldrich is met with a hug or a high five from Hughes.
Aldrich’s playing on the Deep Purple material was in particular, very powerful, and none more so than on the classic “Mistreated”, a song that Hughes said it took Chad Smith of the Chili Peppers badgering him to attempt it as Hughes felt he couldn’t, saying… “Have you fucking heard David (Coverdale) sing it ?!“.Thankfully Smiths’ persistence paid off, as the ten minute or so version that Hughes performs is nothing short of jaw-dropping, Aldrich wrung every emotional note out of his guitar whilst Hughes acted as choirmaster to the mass audience sing-a-long. One of those ‘you had to be there’ moments.
Although Black Country Communion’s time on this planet was short lived, it was also fruitful..”Three incredible albums that I’m very proud of” said Hughes before “One Last Soul” from the BCC debut album started up. It was great Hard Rock album, that improves with each listen. Hughes’ bass work on the album is mesmerising, as witnessed on the live rendition of “Black Country”. Two hours after the show began with a Purple classic it ends with another, perhaps Deep Purple Mk.III’s finest moment….’Burn’. It’s an absolute belter of a track, which features Aldrich releasing his inner Blackmore. Sheer perfection, and a fitting way to end an incredible evening. The tour has a few more stops down south before the final date in London on November 1st. Hughes will also be back next year so miss him at your peril.
TALES FROM THE PIT
I do not normally interrupt or feel the need to add to the reviewers comments, but tonight was something very special. I get to photograph my heroes, new talent and some bands I really do not care for, but tonight saw two legends take the stage in front of my eyes. I will admit I am an old fart, not quite knocking on Glenn’s 64 years, but he is very evident throughout my years in love with this music.
Tonight I witnessed an outstanding gig. I saw the man last year supporting Slash, and it was good, but nothing of the calibre of what was on display tonight. A large part of that has to go to Doug. He made a big call walking away from Whitesnake. That was a money spinner, but I can imagine it wasn’t very challenging. As Dave our reviewer said the highlight was ‘Mistreated’, which blew me away. I was honestly speechless throughout.
The main reason I wanted to add my tuppence worth, was what happened tonight while I was taking photos. You get in a zone when working in the photo pit. You may well have one eye closed and the other stuck in a viewfinder, but you sense everything that is going around you. You can sense if other photographers are jumping at opportunities, if a crowd surfer is about to land on your head, or if a security guard is not happy. Tonight, while I was shooting, I felt a draw to the right of the stage many, many times, and I could not figure it out. I had the urge to turn around and shoot but there was nothing there. It was not till later I realised that this space was reserved for a legend no longer with us. Maybe the great man that was Jon Lord was watching and playing along tonight. I would not blame him as it was the best place to be on this planet.
Review Dave Stott
Images Ritchie Birnie