Only fifteen months since his last show at the Robin 2, international rock star and local boy Glenn Hughes is back in his beloved Black Country to promote his first solo album in over eight years.
Forced to cancel his November 2016 UK tour, after co-headliner Living Colour booked a conflicting support slot with Alter Bridge, the ‘Voice of Rock’ has a run of rescheduled UK and European dates underway. Along with him are younger local heroes Stone Broken who deliver a hard rocking opening set tonight, featuring songs from their debut album ‘All in Time’.
Away with ‘Flow’ from the new album ‘Resonate’ Glenn Hughes dressed in his paisley patterned waistcoat and trousers is looking healthy and sounds on great form. Along with Danish Guitarist and producer Søren Andersen, Swedish musicians Pontus Engborg on drums and Jay Boe on the Hammond organ, the band move on with the Hughes/Thrall era ‘Muscle and Blood’ and the funking hard rock of Deep Purple’s ‘Gettin’ Tighter’.
Glenn thanks the packed Robin 2 for coming out to see him, but insists that it is he who has come to see them “I’ve got two new knees since I was last here” he reports, referring to the dual knee-replacement surgery he underwent last January, before launching into the riffy ‘Stumble & Go’ from his latest album.
An early highlight is the classic Trapeze song ‘Medusa’ with an emotional introduction from Hughes. He talks about his mum’s terminal illness and recalls writing this song in her kitchen at the age of 17. His voice (not only for this song but the entire set) is delivered with non-wavering power, conviction and emotion of a true vocal legend. While many old hats remain active in the game, few if any match the same heights of the indomitable ‘Voice of Rock’.
Suffering with a cold Hughes takes time in-between songs to blow his runny nose. “It’s not what you think!” he says, receiving a big laugh from those in the know. “It always happens when I come back from South America”, he continues joking with his captivated audience.
A career spanning set continues with ‘Can’t Stop the Flood’, followed by the Black Country Communion track ‘One Last Soul’ – giving ever increased excitement about the recently recorded fourth album from BCC – before a fantastic rendition of the Deep Purple MK IV classic ‘You Keep on Moving’.
Another up-to-date and relevant title for this show is the rocker ‘My Town’ – again with an incredible and unbelievable vocal range from the sixty five year old – before a late addition, the Deep Purple Hammond organ inspired ‘Might Just Take Your Life’. Jay Boe rocks his instrument with exceptional talent – a la the late great Jon Lord – adding to the audibly stunning mix of material from Hughes and his band tonight.
The title track from the ‘Soul Mover’ album and the inevitably locally appreciated ‘Black Country’ close the set, before a return to stage brings ‘Heavy’ the opener from ‘Resonate’ and the Deep Purple classic ‘Burn’ with Nathan James from Inglorious getting himself in on the act, and with it grinning like a Cheshire cat.
With a hint that he’ll be back again soon with Black Country Communion, Hughes exits to a mass ovation. While I think it’s something most fans want to see, everybody is pretty content with what they have seen and heard tonight. The ‘Voice of Rock’ never disappoints that’s for sure.
Review & Photography: Steve Johnston // Rock Music Photographer