Before we see the man often dubbed the 'voice of rock', there's the matter of tonight's support, a Black Country band by the name of Stone Broken. With just one album under their collective belt, Stone Broken impress even with a limited range to choose from. Their music is hard and heavy, the vocals throaty and powerful, and they genuinely seem to be having a whale of a time. There's elements of Nickelback or The Answer, big power chords and genuinely catchy songs although there's not a lot of variation within them. They certainly hit it off with the packed house, and I for one will not be disappointed to see them propping up a big Summer bill.
So we get to the main man, the voice of rock, the man knows as... Lenn Hughes? It seems the backdrop is designed for bigger stages, so tonight he performs under a name that is coincidentally a local council member... Good ol' Len Hughes! Anyway, a peek at the set list makes for a mouth watering moment, as it seems that Mr Hughes has basically came here to rock our socks off. Opener 'Flow' (from the recent album) really sets the tone, a blistering ball buster that introduces us to the fact that Glenn Hughes is in the for of his life. It's his last night in the UK, and he delivers a set stuffed full of his greatest hits, with tracks from Hughes/Thrall, Deep Purple, Black Country Communion and of course his solo albums. When 'Muscle & Blood' (Hughes/Thrall) finishes I'm left stunned by the sheer power that Hughes can deliver. It belies belief that this is a 64 year old man who has a double knee replacement a couple of years ago. He may not have the profile of his Purple pal Coverdale, but tonight he shows that vocally he's got him obliterated, especially in the screaming department.
The sound is just about perfect, which to me means it's clear, well mixed and not turned up to eleven just for the sake of it. It's all helped immensely by the top class talent that's backing Hughes, Soren Anderson handles his guitar like an old pro, with some mightily impressive work throughout, and special mention must go to Jay Boe, who plays an actual Hammond organ that is a joy to hear, especially when he's allowed to let loose. Hughes himself wields the bass like a weapon, really banging it out with gusto throughout. The set list is composed entirely of big ass rock songs, with particular highlights being 'Medusa', the first rock song Hughes ever wrote (back in 1970), 'Black Country', (which he changes to 'West Country' to the delight of the crowd) and the classic 'Burn', which closes the set in fine style.
After only having seen Glenn Hughes once with BCC at a festival, I wasn't majorly enthused about tonight. As the final note of 'Burn' fades and the roar of the crown takes over, I can safely say I have a new found respect for the man, as this has seriously been one of the best performances I have ever seen. A true master of the vocal arts, on tonight's evidence Glenn Hughes deserves every plaudit thrown at him.
Review by Alan Holloway