If I had to name the greatest voices of all time in rock, Glenn Hughes would be on my list – and pretty high up. Well that’s not just me, as he is praised for his unique singing skills by many fans and critics, and has been indeed labelled ‘The Voice of Rock’ at some point.
If I had to name a few busy bodies in the world of rock, that even with all the ups and downs of the music business managed to land dozens of remarkable gigs both solo and in all kinds of bands, again Glenn Hughes name would soar. Besides his solo career, he was in Trapeze, Deep Purple, Hughes/Thrall, Black Sabbath (ok, quasi-Sabbath, mostly a Tony Iommi solo project turned Sabbath for commercial reasons, still an amazing and underrated record) and more recently the Black Country Communion supergroup. Ah, and he did stints with Gary Moore, John Norum from Europe… the list goes on and on.
Well as Black Country Communion recently came to a hiatus for various reasons not relevant here, this sexagenarian gentleman packed his bag and headed down under once again.
After a very competent warm-up performed by local band Massive – totally on my list of bands to check out, and I mean it ! – said gentleman took to the stage… on his own with nothing but an acoustic guitar ! Yes, his first set was entirely solo and entirely acoustic. First song, Trapeze’s Coast to Coast was not a surprise, as it has been in his set for a long time, but its rendition certainly was. He simply shredded his guitar and sung with his unique crystalline voice, and delivered that and a series of other gems that included BCC’s Faithless, some of his solo work, and a heart-touching version of The Moody Blues’ Nights In White Satin – one of the most beautiful ballads of all time and for many, part of the inception of progressive rock – dedicated to this legendary band who, according to him, ‘nurtured’ Trapeze back in the day.
No frills and ready to rock, he called in the other band members – two of them Australians, that had only recently rehearsed the songs – and simply demolished the audience as Deep Purple used to do back in the day. One by one, classic hits were unleashed, going from solo material such as Soul Mover and Imperfection all the way to recent BCC songs such as Black Country. Seminal Deep Purple Mark III’s album Burn was well represented with Might Just Take your Life, Sail Away, Mistreated, and the blockbuster, ground-shaker title track that simply turned the place upside down. Mark IV was solely covered by Gettin’ Tighter, while for my dismay Mark III’s album Stormbringer was altogether ignored…
Highlights go also to his extraordinary respect for the audience, the touching remarks on Jon Lord’s passing, the short impersonation-homage to David Coverdale, his visible happiness for being alive and performing well even after all the drug related issues of the past, and the funny remarks about the several times when he’s been falsely declared dead – one of them when the Village People musician of the same name passed away. On top of it all, he mentioned Ritchie Blackmore as being one of the greatest guitarists of all time… where should I sign off on that with my own blood?
Like wine, some things get better – much better – with age. This is Glenn Hughes for you folks: better musician, better voice, and human being ‘extraordinaire’.