Glenn Hughes is as good now as he's ever been.
Glenn Hughes taking the stage in Leeds was notable for a variety of reasons, including the unusual setting of a church that has been converted into a venue – but the main thing of note was the former Deep Purple legend delivered a performance for the ages.
First up were hungry young openers Stone Broken, who tore through the lion's share of material from their impressive debut album 'All In Time', with the likes of 'Better', 'This Life' and the excellent 'Not Your Enemy' thundering around the impressive church interior, with the circular lighting rig and smoke machine making a visual spectacle to match the music. While they performed with enthusiasm, my fear was their loud sonic assault might be a bit too hard and heavy for a Glenn Hughes show. However, nothing could have been further from the truth, as the Voice Of Rock had come to do just that... and Rock hard.
Opening proceedings with 'Flow' from his stunning new album 'Resonate', Hughes' tall, slender frame dominated the centre of the stage, while the stained glass window behind him seemed to act as a testament to his god-like status in the Rock world. 'Muscle And Blood' from the classic 'Hughes/Thrall' album was well delivered and equally well received, before Hughes and his band blew the roof off with an amazing version of Deep Purple's 'Gettin' Tighter'. The addition of Jay Boe on Hammond Organ (not keyboards, a proper Hammond) made a huge difference to the sound, and guitarist Søren Andersen, along with drummer Pontus Engborg, who have been with Hughes for years, performed superbly.
Another new track, 'Stumble And Go' worked extremely well and shows Hughes is writing material more vibrant and powerful now than perhaps any other stage in his career. He then dusted off an old gem in the form of Trapeze's 'Medusa' (which got a new lease of life from the re-recording by Black Country Communion) and the old favourite sounded timeless. As impressive as the opening salvo was, what made things even more remarkable was his near perfect vocals, despite his obvious need to blow his nose between each song, due to a cold he picked up on the road. As if that wasn't a big enough obstacle, Hughes informed us that his mother had passed away only an hour or so before the show. He had been with her prior to coming to Leeds as she had been unwell and he explained the last thing she said to him was to promise he wouldn't cancel any of his shows
With a cheer of appreciation, he blasted through an immense 'Can't Stop The Flood' and a sizzling 'One Last Soul' before slowing the pace a little with 'You Keep On Moving', which culminated in an astonishing vocal solo which proved Hughes is peerless among singers from his own era... and beyond.
'Might Just Take Your Life' made a welcome appearance thanks to the band having a Hammond to utilise, and 'Soul Mover' sounded as heavy and groove filled as I've ever heard it. 'Black Country' closed the show and Hughes then actually thanked the highly appreciative crowd for being there and for making a difficult night much easier for him.
The raucously demanded encore featured 'Heavy' which is surely destined to become a live staple, and closed with an explosive version of 'Burn'. I've seen Hughes live many times with many line ups, but this ranks as the best I've ever witnessed. He finished the night by again thanking everyone in attendance and saying it was his duty to give back to people. From what I saw, and from what others in the crowd said, he couldn't have given anymore. Glenn Hughes is as good now as he's ever been, and long may it continue.