Glenn Hughes, The Damn Truth – Manchester Academy 2 – 29th October 2023
Earlier in the afternoon of the gig date, a win for City win at Old Trafford ensures that for the time being, Manchester remains blue. However, down Oxford Road, there are shades of Purple. Purple. of the deepest variety. Glenn Hughes is in town and he’s bringing the songs of Deep Purple with him to perform ‘classic Deep Purple’. Maybe not quite the man in the street would deem as classic in terms of Smoke On The Water and Black Night, but plenty from his days in the band have achieved ‘classic’ status.
It’s the only gig in the cluster of Academy venues, but the local streets are lined with parked cars and there’s a very healthy crowd shoehorned into the Academy 2. Many of them might even have been around – as very young youngsters naturally – at the time of Burn which celebrates its half-century in 2024, as noted on the ‘Burn 74’ tour shirts. It’s not quite so out of the ordinary these days with these landmarks becoming the norm. So, armed with Stormbringer, Burn and Come Taste The Band, he sets out to pay due respect yet play the bejaysus out of the tunes
The Deep Purple offshoots – notably Rainbow and Whitesnake – have been responsible for some personal favourite versions of some of these songs, in particular an affinity for Coverdale & Co doing Might Just Take Your Life with a Mickey Moody slide guitar while the Dio fronted Rainbow version of Mistreated is a treat.
Glenn Hughes is intent on doing things in style, wallowing in being “back home” even though he’s lived in the US for much of his life and letting loose with the sort of ear-piercing screams that Ian Gillan might find a challenge to match. There’s a real clout to the opening fury of Strombringer and the reedy organ intro and the rumble of bass on theMight Just… makes the hairs stand up and gives a chance for those mouthing the words to belt out the chorus.
He spends time between songs in reminiscences over the period, recollecting the California Jam of ’74 (check the footage of Glenn decked in gleaming white satin suit, pulling the poses and sharing the vocals with David Coverdale) and getting up to mischief with Blackmore. He talks too of “meeting with Jon (Lord) and ‘DC’,” the struggles to get Ritchie on board in rebooting DP Mk III while there’s a tinge of sadness as he speaks of those who will never do the songs again and how he sees his mission as carrying the flag. Of course, he pays tribute to his own band of whom Søren Andersen who has been with ‘Uncle G’ now for a healthy few years and gets his turn on several occasions to show his guitar prowess while Bob Fridzema lashes at his keyboards along with Ash Sheehan’s drum solo that flesh out the You Fool No One medley dramatically.
And from the blue of Manchester, the purple of Glenn, “the sky is red” as we hit the encores of Burn, a reminder that Glenn’s not in the mindset of standing still or wallowing in the heritage act circuit. There’s a new Black Country Communion album in the pipeline (cue the cheers) and he promises to go out in a blaze of glory if he’s the last man standing to be playing these songs. Judging by tonight’s performance, there’s enough wind in the sail for the Hughes ship to sail away for a few more years yet.
As a prelude to the main event, The Damn Truth appear in animal print, glitter and stripes looking very much the rock and roll. part. Silhouetted and dancing in the shadows as the intro music sees Grace Slick sing about white rabbits, they’re an arresting support band and as the hall fills, the applause and engagement swells.
The front three of LeeLa Baum, Tom Shemer and PY Letellier throw shapes, swap places and engage in the sort of posing that will get their pictures in the Rock press. They skid around the stage as the Now Or Nowhere album gets well-mined for their set. The riffs are non stop as the set cleverly showcases several riff monsters. One of their older tunes, Get With You bounces and stomps, sitting neatly with Full On You and the accessibly catchy Only Love. The latter two songs both hold the essential crossover appeal that strikes a chord with those new to the band.
On the other hand, Lonely finds the quartet working out over a with Lee-La channelling the Blues-y soul of the Joplins, and Slicks, the passion and delivery confirming her worthiness of being mentioned in the same Bretah and of her place in the hallowed halls. “I don’t know what tomorrow brings,” they sing on set closer Tomorrow where the guitar intro bears some familiarity to Sweet Child O’ Mine, that sort of chiming figure.
Lee-La is on a high and can’t even stop herself from grooving along to the R’n’B coming over the PA as they break down their kit. “Every time we come to the UK, we fall in love all over again,” she enthuses. Even on a rainy October night in Manchester you can feel the warmth.
Categories: Live Reviews