Recorded in Montreux, Switzerland, in November 1973, ‘Burn’ is the eighth studio album by Deep Purple, and notably, the first to feature the MK III line-up. Out went Ian Gillan and Roger Glover to be replaced by the then-unknown young vocalist David Coverdale, and Trapeze bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes. A bold move, especially considering how highly-regarded Gillan was. It meant a change in sound, with more of a funk feel coming through, thanks to Cannock-born Hughes, and the end result – ‘Burn’ – blew the doubters away and along with Black Sabbath’s ‘Heaven & Hell’ is the best example of a band changing key positions and matching previous efforts; and in some cases going one better and bettering previous efforts. With long-term guitarist Soren Andersen alongside him (17 years and counting), and Ash Sheehan (drums), and Bob Fridzema (keyboards) completing this amazing line-up, Hughes is out on the road on the ‘Glenn Hughes Performs Classic Deep Purple Live – Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the album BURN’ tour, and yeah, he still sounds bloody marvelous.
The choice of The Damn Truth as special guests for the tour is an inspired choice as it is the perfect match-up. No stranger to these shores, the Montreal four-piece have been regular visitors since appearing with King King on the blues-rockers February 2022 tour (KK frontman Alan Nimmo is here tonight). October 2022 saw the band back for a headlining tour, followed by a run of dates in 2023 around an appearance up the mountain for Steelhouse Festival in Wales, and now a few months later they have their passports stamped one more time for a batch of dates with The Voice Of Rock, as well as a few select headline dates slotted in. And if ever there was a band that had to be witnessed live on stage, it is The Damn Truth for they truly come alive once the houselights dim.
Once the traditional intro tape of Jefferson Airplane’s classic ‘White Rabbit’ ends and the ‘Feed Your Head’ refrain fades out, the quartet slams into the gradual build of ‘This Is Who We Are Now’ and a few in the audience are getting their first experience of TDT vocalist/guitarist Lee-La Baum; who needs a storm when you have Hurricane Lee-La in the vicinity. With Dave Traina’s drumkit pushed to the front of the stage, there is not much room for the outfield trio of Lee-La, Tom Shemer (guitar), and PY Letellier (bass) to strut their collective stuff, but they make the most of what they have and set out to convert those unfamiliar with The Damn Truth with a short, dazzling set. Culled mainly from 2021’s ‘Now or Nowhere’ album; ‘Lonely’, ‘Look Innocent’, and ‘Only Love’ are still some of the best tracks of recent years, whereas ‘Tomorrow’ is perhaps the best. Such a gorgeous affirmation of the healing power of music, the uplifting ‘Tomorrow’ (with Shemer making his guitar sing) is magnificent. With a brand new album being worked on – with Bob Rock at the helm – the time to ‘Feed Your Head’ with your new favourite band is now. Catch The Damn Truth headlining at Norwich Waterfront (Oct 24), and Dover Booking Hall (Oct 26).
With Glenn Hughes it’s not just about the music, it’s also about the stories behind the music (talk of Ritchie Blackmore using petrol on his speakers at California Jam in 1974, and not forewarning the band before the speakers exploded was a good one). And with regards to the Deep Purple tour-de-force ‘Mistreated’, Glenn mentions that during the writing process with Blackmore, he knew that with that song, he was going to be okay and that the band was going to be okay. “Okay” is a slight understatement, to say the least. The band was more than “okay” and even now ‘Mistreated’ still has the ability to drop a charging rhino to its knees. Performed mid-set tonight, it is mindblowing. Clocking 15 minutes in length, it showcases the immeasurable talents of not just Hughes, but this fine band, and in particular the guitar work of the Fender-wielding Soren Andersen who after a few minutes of soloing strikes the instantly recognisable first chords with Glenn Hughes acting as cheerleader. Glenn can still hit those high notes with ease and the ear-piercing screams will have bothered canines for miles around.
With a setlist of only 9 tracks in length, there is license for the band to stretch out, and they do so, especially on ‘You Fool No One’ which leads into a lengthy drum solo from Ash Sheehan. It is on the shorter tracks, however, that the band excels: ‘Stormbringer’ is the perfect set opener, and the guitar work is classy; ‘Might Just Take Your Life’ is jaw-droppingly good and has former King King keys player Bob Fridzema flexing his muscles with some impressive keyboard-fills; ‘You Keep On Moving’ is performed as a tribute to the late-great Tommy Bolin who for a short time graced stages as part of the Deep Purple MKIV line-up, and again Fridzema shows why he is so highly regarded in music circles. Glenn not only continually hits the high notes but holds them, and at times you might just find yourself forgetting that he is indeed 74 years old.
The end of the set is pre-ordained but that doesn’t mean that it lacks anything. Losing the bass, Glenn prowls the stage for a gonzo version of ‘Highway Star’ that raises the temperature as Soren Andersen makes it look effortless. Only one song could follow on, and that is of course ‘Burn’. Once Andersen launches THAT riff all bets are off as Glenn rolls back the decades with a vocal performance that defies logic and “When it came, no one was spared…”.
Such a warm, emotional night full of great memories from two exceptional bands, and one legendary performer who shows zero signs of slowing down, and on the strength of this performance, why should he?
Remaining tour dates:
London, The Electric Ballroom – Wednesday 25th October 2023
Frome, Cheese & Grain – Saturday 28th October 2023
Manchester, Academy 2 – Sunday 29th October 2023
More information here
All live images – Callum Scott