Glenn Hughes @ Robin 2, Bilston – 26 October 2015

A gig on a Monday night in the heart of the Black Country is where you might not expect to find a rock pioneer with the nickname the ‘Voice of Rock’. That is if you don’t know much about the man, for tonight Glenn Hughes has simply come home.

After the passing of Black Country Communion and his short lived California Breed project, Glenn Hughes felt it was the right time to start touring his solo band again. With drummer Pontus Engborg on board but guitarist Søren Andersen under contractual commitments, Hughes was forced to change his lineup, with the only man on his mind for the task being former Dio and Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich.

The set showcases highlights from Glenn’s five-decade career, kicking off with Deep Purple’s ‘Stormbringer’ and ‘Orion’ from his 2005 solo album ‘Soul Mover’. The 64 year old has all the energy and moves of a man half his age, and the voice – wow – the voice is just electric. Along with his pounding bass-lines and screaming vocal comes a clear chemistry with Aldrich, himself a true rock star and exceptionally talented guitarist. The Trapeze funk-rock workout ‘Way Back to the Bone’ gives Aldrich the opportunity to show how adaptive he is, as does the great soulful, slow burner ‘First Step of Love’ from the Hughes/Thrall album.

Relaying a number of stories throughout the show, Hughes recalls memories of those who have passed over, including Ronnie James Dio and Mel Galley to whom he dedicates another Trapeze song ‘Touch My Life’. Embracing and clearly emotional about playing so close to his Black Country childhood home, he pays homage to his parents – this with his mum in the audience for the first time in 10 years.

The set brings on the likes of an extended version of Deep Purple’s ‘Sail Away’ (1974) and Whitesnake’s ‘Good To Be Bad’ (2007), it’s a veritable mish mash of classic rock, for any long-time fan, and there’s plenty of them here tonight. There’s definitely a yelp of delight from many to the start of Purple’s classic ‘Mistreated’ – itself a highlight, featuring a tremendous vocal from Hughes.

‘Can’t Stop the Flood’ followed by the Black Country Communion smasher ‘One Last Soul’ and ‘Soul Mover’ bring the main set to a close. It’s hot and it’s sweaty but the Black Country faithful haven’t had enough yet and “Hughsey” isn’t about to let them down.

First up for the encore is the title track from project Black Country Communion, with everybody in the place ringing out the chorus: “I am a messenger. This is my prophecy. I’m goin’ back. To the Black Country”. And if that isn’t marvellous enough, what a closer Hughes, Aldrich and powerhouse Engborg give them – it’s the Deep Purple masterpiece ‘Burn’, absolutely throttled out, after just short of two hours, it’s a superb finish to an outstanding show.

Hughes promises he’ll return, just as he did when I saw him at the same venue back in 2010. However, based on this outing I hope it’s not so long, and it will be a return of this same lineup. And if he can bring a support equal to the superb Jared James Nichols then it’s certainly not a night to be missed.

Review & Photography: Steve Johnston

Glenn Hughes