Classic Deep Purple had arrived; it was along time coming and definitely worth the wait.
The Waterfront Hall in Belfast would host the opening night of the UK Tour, Usually a venue more in keeping with the likes of Classical music or the likes of Josh Groban more than the voice of Rock himself, one Mr Glenn Hughes. Tonight though, it would house one of the finest vocal displays seen on this shore in a very long time. The Dead Sea Skulls, a Punk/Rock band from Birmingham would open tonight’s proceedings.
An explosive three piece with an enigmatic and passionate drummer in Ashley Sheehan who stood behind his drum kit thrashing those skins like a man possessed with all he’s got trying to pull this Belfast crowd into the set song by song. A tight unit with a killer vibe this three piece slammed their way through a frantic 45-minute set like they were headlining, with a mix of high octane, energetic and highly addictive that have you singing along from the off. Sumptuous bass lines, slick guitar work and meshed together by the mercurial drums that shook the very ground we stood on. An excellent introduction to Belfast made for a highly memorable performance and a great start to the evening.
Around 8:45 the lights dimmed once again, as the band take their places Glenn makes his way onto centre stage and the room erupts with applause. The guys rip their way across three classic Deep Purple numbers before Glenn takes to the mic to interact with the crowd, as promised in a recent interview he is a grateful man, feeling blessed by being here once again sharing what he does with a group of friends equally as passionate about their love of music. As a tribute to the late great Tommy Bolan Glenn plays a song they wrote together ‘Getting Tighter’ a Funk-Rock explosion and as Hughes slams that bass the note resonates around the room, the guitars build before the songs kicks in full swing, a glorious track with the Hammond Organ wailing and a funky backbone that has the crowd on their feet.
A glorious drum solo of breathtaking heights followed by a quick bass solo from the man himself has the feeling of a musical free for all of the highest order. The sound is sublime as Soren Andersen’s wailing guitar takes you back 50 years, the Marshall stacks behind him throwing out classic tones. The musicianship is first class as they stroll down memory lane with the Belfast crowd.
The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for two of the biggest classics, ‘Smoke On The Water’, which had people leaving their seats in droves to join the boys upfront at the stage as they gather to pay homage to the church of Glenn, rightly so as he extends into ‘Georgia On My Mind’ with a vocal display to take your breath away. Followed by ‘Highway Star’ where Hughes lost the bass and covered the length and breadth of the stage with fans clambering to get a shake of the hand as he walks past. The night is brought to a close with ‘Burn’ and the place goes wild.
A magnificent evening of Classic Rock delivered by one of the finest voices in the business makes for one hell of a show, if you were on the fence about catching Classic Deep Purple Live, don’t be. This show is an absolute must. Hughes is a revelation.
Review & Photography: Mark McGrogan