In 70’s rock music ruled young people’s lives, no other music would reach the level of notoriety and spectacle that the great bands of that era achieved. Several English rock acts would conquer the world and become the textbook definition for what classic rock music was all about. Bands such as Led Zeppelin,Black Sabbath, Uriah Heap, Deep Purple and many others made musical history giving the definition of rock n’ roll a whole new meaning. More than 40 years later, many of these bands and their members are still performing their back catalogue to audiences who remember the good old days, when rock music was a force to be reckoned with and for younger fans that may not have even been alive at the time.
Glenn Hughes the legendary bass player of Deep Purple was a member when the band was the most popular rock act in the planet between 1974 and 1976, he played his last show with them on March 15th, 1976 at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre. 41 years later Glenn has decided to return to his roots and tour the Deep Purple songs he wrote with the band all those years ago. Glenn and his band The Classic Deep Purple Show are now touring Australia and New Zealand. He has loved playing for Australian audiences since Deep Purple headlined the very last of the legendary Sunbury Pop Festivals in 75; that weekend a promising young bunch of locals under the name of AC/DC caught his eye and since then Glenn has shared the stage with many Australian musicians including Jimmy Barnes and his current phenomenal keyboardist Lacky Doley who hails from Adelaide.
Glenn brought his classic Deep Purple show to Sydney at the regal State Theatre where some 3000 young and old fans with their faded Deep Purple T-shirts sat down on individual thrones inside a castle like fortress. Hughes & Co.kicked off proceedings with the familiar Lord synth waves of “Stormbringer” and guitarist Jeff Kollman brought the house down with the thunderous Blackmore riff. Glenn’s high falsetto vocals echoed onto the roof of the theatre and his screams were definitely reaching if not surpassing the vocal heights of Ian Gillan in pitch and spirit.
Each member of the band brought their A game channeling the original Deep Purple musicians with excellence. Guitarist Jeff Kollman and drummer Pontus Engborg both had their respective solos but it was keyboardist Lacky Doley who put on an impressive display of improvisation on that venerated bluesy anthem “Mistreated”. Between songs Glenn entertained the audience with stories of what it was like being part of Deep Purple and the amazing journey that they had all those years ago. A heartfelt tribute was given to Jon Lord and Tommy Bolin who both were integral to Deep Purple during Glenn’s time with the band. A stand out item in the setlist was the funky Bolin/Hughes composition “Gettin’ Tighter” from the‘Come Taste The Band’ album, this particular bone shaker really demonstrates Glenn’s great song writing, his ability to fuse heavy and funky music and it certainly stands the test of time very well. He had the audience (who were mostly over 40)singing like they were in their youth again, enjoying every moment so much they felt compelled to break the old decree of 70’s gig etiquette and stood up to play air guitar.
As the concert was wrapping up the band reverentially included a couple of numbers from the classic Deep Purple catalogue of the pre Glenn Hughes era which of course are absolutely MUST PLAY to a loyal crowd of Purple fans like the one that had descended on the State Theatre last Wednesday night, “Smoke on the Water” is of course the most recognizable guitar riff in music history but Glenn also fittingly chose the beast of a headbanger that is “Highway Star”.
As an encore the audience were also treated to “Burn”another very iconic Deep Purple composition on which Glenn Hughes contributed that mesmerizing steamrolling bass groove. Before bidding farewell Glenn told everyone in attendance how honored he was to be playing these songs all these years later and how much he loved Australia and as an old hippie rock star he put up his peace sign and said: “love is the answer and music is the great healer”. Coming out of such a spectacular venue,aroused by the breathtaking music of Deep Purple so deftly honored, the night certainly felt like an amazing experience and one that will live long in the memory.