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Glenn Hughes review: Classic music from a classic musician makes for a classic night

PUBLISHED: 12:24 22 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:39 28 November 2019

Glenn Hughes performing in Cambridge the night before he headlined The Waterfront in Norwich on November 20, 2019. Picture: Laurence Harvey

Glenn Hughes performing in Cambridge the night before he headlined The Waterfront in Norwich on November 20, 2019. Picture: Laurence Harvey

� 2019 Laurence Harvey

Glenn Hughes delivers a Deep Purple masterclass on a triumphant visit to Norwich on November 20, writes ADAM AIKEN.

Glenn Hughes performing in Cambridge the night before he headlined The Waterfront in Norwich on November 20, 2019. Picture: Laurence HarveyGlenn Hughes performing in Cambridge the night before he headlined The Waterfront in Norwich on November 20, 2019. Picture: Laurence Harvey

He is known as the Voice of Rock - and, boy, does Glenn Hughes live up to that moniker.

Reports had travelled up the A11 of a fantastic performance the night before in Cambridge, and from the opening notes of Stormbringer to the end of Highway Star we join Hughes on a brilliant trip down memory lane.

The evening, billed as Glenn Hughes Performs Classic Deep Purple, gives us the chance to hear material from the early days of that trailblazing band, performed by one of the key players from that era.

The satisfying, funky groove of Sail Away is an early highlight, but in truth it's a consistently high-quality set and the music never falters.

Glenn Hughes performing in Cambridge the night before he headlined The Waterfront in Norwich on November 20, 2019. Picture: Laurence HarveyGlenn Hughes performing in Cambridge the night before he headlined The Waterfront in Norwich on November 20, 2019. Picture: Laurence Harvey

What grates a little bit is the long drum solo we get halfway through the evening. Although Ash Sheehan's talent is indisputable and drum-solo fans are no doubt mightily impressed by his variation and stamina, it slows down the pace of the set unnecessarily.

But the brilliance of the rest of the show makes that just a small gripe, and we're soon back in the groove.

The Waterfront is a venue that all too often, for some reason, sees bands unable to get the sound mix right, but tonight Hughes and his pals show exactly how it should be done.

The whole thing is crystal clear and every member of the band - completed by guitarist Soren Andersen and Vince DiCola (who, incidentally, scored the soundtracks for films including Rocky IV) on the keys - can be heard clearly without anyone dominating. It provides the perfect backdrop to bassist Hughes's remarkable voice. On several occasions, he mesmerises the whole place with his astonishing falsetto, and the emotion he delivers throughout the evening is palpable.

Hughes pays tribute to his late bandmate Tommy Bolin, who joined Purple for one album, replacing Ritchie Blackmore, in 1975 before succumbing to his decadent lifestyle just a year later.

"Tommy lives within me," Hughes tell us before launching into Gettin' Tighter, which he co-wrote with Bolin. He adds that he's played this one in every solo Glenn Hughes show since Bolin died in December 1976. It's a cracking rendition and a great reminder that Purple's back catalogue is full of gems such as this as well as the big, well-known anthems.

Close your eyes during Mistreated, meanwhile, and you could be in a smoky backstreet blues bar - and this is another occasion when we get to hear Hughes's astonishing vocal range.

Unsurprisingly, it's the aforementioned big anthems that round off the evening. Smoke on the Water brings the main set to a close before Burn joins Highway Star as the encore selection.

The music may be more than four decades old but Hughes sounds as fresh as ever and he's loving every minute of it.

"I'm smiling. I can't help it," the 68-year-old tells us at one point. So are we and we can't help it, either.

- For more Norwich music check out our dedicated page every Thursday in the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News or follow Enjoy Music More on Facebook and Twitter

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