Glenn Hughes was Getting Tighter at the Waterfront Hall Oct02

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Glenn Hughes was Getting Tighter at the Waterfront Hall

Gig Review: Glenn Hughes was Getting Tighter at the Waterfront Hall Belfast

On a pleasant but cool evening a steady stream of rockers and metallers of all types and all ages flowed into the Waterfront Hall for a very special evening indeed. Tonight the legendary Glen Hughes was playing, not only that but this was a special event with Glenn playing Deep Purple! An opportunity definitely not to be missed.

The tickets were originally standing but on arrival everyone was told it was now seated. This was slightly ominous. A rock gig with everyone seated? It has been done before and many of the iconic greats played to purely seated auditoriums, but it still felt off with most people being used to at least a fair sized standing area.

The support act for the night were Dead Sea Skulls, a Birmingham based band with a real peaky blinder, gypsy blues rock sound that immediately caught everyone’s attention. A three piece group that had a sound that filled the auditorium tight to the back and what energy they had. The lead singer/drummer took the Jerry Lee Lewis approach and was standing the whole time creating blinding vocals and thunderous drum beats the whole time. The bassist and guitarist were just as active and the smiles on their faces said it all. The vast majority of people there had no idea who these guys were when they walked on, but by god, they knew who they were by the time they walked off.

Lets be honest, those who bought tickets were diehard Deep Purple and Glenn Hughes fans, there to see a legend. There was an assumption there would be a support act, but no idea who it was. The place was seated – and enthusing a seated audience into the normal reactions of standing is a very uphill struggle. Dead Sea Skulls were immediately on the backfoot but what a sprint forward they took. Full of energy, interaction with the audience, the lead singer jumping off stage to walk round and even getting a couple of kids fully involved drumming for the band. They got the crowd clapping and standing, shouting and singing. There was even a point where the bassist was manhandled into keeping the bass drum beat going while the lead singer ran about the stage leading the audience in a singalong, in what seemed a totally impromptu off script moment. They were incredible, they played their hearts out and the crowd loved them for it.

Next was the one and only legend himself, Glenn Hughes. On the band came and to absolute adulation Glenn Hughes walked up to the mic, as he swung his bass round, said hello to Belfast and landed straight into “Stormbringer”. The audience loved it. This was a night to remember as a former member of Deep Purple played Deep Purple on a special tour of reminiscing, nostalgia and a love filled performance. On he went with his band into “Might Just Take You Away” and “Sail Away”, each song filled with emotion, unconditional love and joy as the audience found themselves in what felt more like a religious experience, with people of all different ages and dress styles here and there unable to control themselves and had to stand up and rock out a little as if the spirit of Deep Purple possessed them.

This was no “lets hear some Deep Purple hits” or see some tribute act performance. What added so much weight to the evening was who was delivering the performance. Glenn Hughes may be hitting the mid 60s but the emotional weight he gave each song, delivered with an incredible vocal talent that was not off by even a milli-note, hammered home a very unique experience for everyone there.

Glenn took moments here and there to talk to the audience, none more important to him than when he discussed Tommy Bolan, and told everyone that the next song was for him and that he promised to play this particular song every time he is on stage. The song? “Getting Tighter” and the delivery Glenn gave resonated with everyone there. This segued into a drum solo and a resoundingly incredible heavy sounding Bass solo from Glenn. The whole package was a thing of expressive beauty.

“You Keep on Moving” flowed into a Keyboard solo before pumping back into “You Fool No One” as it naturally slipped into a fantastic guitar solo from Soren Anderson and a beautiful bit of blues mastery with “Haigh Ball Shooter” before reprising “You Fool No One” to deliver a tour de force of an experience.

Glenn moved forward on the stage, almost leaning over the edge to thank everyone there and let everyone know his deep love for everyone there and that is was a pleasure to be on stage to perform for them. Saying “Music is the healer” he also emphasised “You didn’t come to see Glenn Hughes, Glenn Hughes came to see you”. He was very humble, open and warm throughout.

On into the classic “Mistreated” before THAT song. Yup, everyone knew it was coming, just not when and just as people were wondering if Glenn would do it, he dropped in “Smoke on the Water” and everyone went wild. The courteous understanding of seated tickets that most attendees to any show adhere to was ripped right up and people just moved forward right to the stage. The EventSec staff were a little taken aback but took the invasion of the floor in good faith and for the experience of the show, it paid off for win-win for everyone. This perfectly slipped into a cover of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia On My Mind” much to everyone’s joy to finish off the set.

Of course everyone was calling for more as they were completely enjoying themselves now that the awkward rigidity of seats was no more of anyone’s concern. And Glenn did not disappoint with an incredible rendition of “Highway Star” and “Burn” to perfectly cap off the whole show.

Overall, Dead Sea Skulls were a fantastic support act for such a legendary act as Glenn Hughes. Glenn himself was on top form with a voice a 20 year old could only dream off. He hit every note perfectly and worked the stage with ease and pure professionalism. Throughout there were standing ovations as everyone wanted to show how much they appreciated his performance. It was a great start to his tour throughout the UK and if you get the chance you need to go. Glenn Hughes playing Deep Purple is a very special experience, so get your tickets now – this is an opportunity you may never get again.

Review by Ivor Whitten, Happy Metal Geek

Photos by Darren McVeigh, Metal Planet Music