October 24, 2023

A fascinating show, one band playing monster tracks from 50 years ago, the other performing top quality material only a year old – but they share the same enthusiasm for classic rock, the same belief in “well-being through music”, and both featuring absolutely majestic singers. For me, this was sort of a double-header, I love’em both!

All the fantastic photos are courtesy of Haluk Gurer and Andrew Ellis

The Damn Truth hit the stage to the stirring sounds of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit, and it does set the scene for wonderful retro-rock, whether new or old. And in Lee-La Baum, a vocalist who comfortably slips into Janis Joplin’s or Grace Slick’s shoes, she can howl and belt it out with the best of them!

After the intro, TDT launch into perhaps their best known song This Is Who We Are Now, it got a lot of UK radio air-play last year – and deservedly so, it’s an absolute belter. Sadly it suffered from the all-too-common affliction of poor sound set-up for support bands and Tom Shemer’s pyrotechnics on guitar were all but lost. Even Lee-La struggled to be heard clearly, whereas the bass mix was way, way too high…

******

Why is it, in this digital age of “technical excellence” that sound set-ups are so often still so sloppy for support bands? It’s not fair on anyone, least of all the up and coming bands that need a decent platform on which to be heard. It wasn’t the venue, because the sound was crystal clear for Glenn, and I doubt The Damn Truth had much control over the set-up, but having seen them as headliners only two months ago the difference in sound quality as a support band was painfully obvious.

Anyway, on with the show….

The Damn Truth’s set was obviously shorter than their headlining shows, but no less powerful and fulfilling for that – packed full of energy, melody, warmth, and so much passion. But above all, these are just great songs, hugely tuneful, hugely rocky, delivered with real verve. Full On You has a simple riff followed by a massive chorus, and the crowd were clearly mightily impressed!

Lonely is another crowd-pleaser, it’s sort of bluesy with balls, a slow stomper with arena-like hooklines, Lee-La giving it her best Janis Joplin impression – which, let me assure you, is very, very impressive. She softens the tone (a little) with Only Love, another gorgeously tuneful song in the best traditions of rock ballads and another scorching solo from Tom – this guy is simply a fantastic guitarist, right up there with the best.

Their whole set is really strong, classic hard rock with lots of bluesy, melodic edges, lots of variety in pace, mood and style, epitomised by the closer Tomorrow. A combination of great riffs, superb melodic vocals, and a huge, huge, sing-along chorus – it’s just good-time rock’n’roll at its very, very best, a completely compelling live show.

The Damn Truth are a really tight-knit foursome, Lee-La’s heroics are perfectly counter-balanced by Tom’s soaring, swooping solos and PY and Dave’s absolutely powerhouse rhythms. I love this band, they simply look and sound like four guys having a really great time playing together and the “Deep Purple” crowd was hugely impressed!

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The Man

And so to the main course…Glenn Hughes simply has no right to look and sound as good as he so obviously is! He’s got a band around him who are no mere understudies, guitarist Soren Andersen has worked with Glen for several years now but, like everyone else tonight, can’t keep a smile off his face as he delivers the guitar lines for these old classics with consummate skill. Add to this the astounding drumming of Ash Sheehan and the sumptuous keys of Bob Fridzema and you get to see and hear a proper full-on classic rock band!

Soren strutting his stuff

The current tour is majoring on the Burn album being 50 years old, so there’s a fair bit of material off this timeless classic. Almost perversely though, Glenn kicks off with ‘Stormbringer’ from the same era before launching into Might Just Take Your Life and the marvellous Sail Away from Burn. This last is a particular crowd favourite, with a scorching guitar intro and Glenn’s vocals being quite marvellously undiminished through the ravages of time!

He enjoys quite a bit of banter tonight, being something of a raconteur in his tales of high jinks with Ritchie Blackmore, with a wicked impression of “DC” that draws laughs from the crowd – claiming that he was only 5 years old when Purple recorded Burn!

Glenn is a West Midlands boy and clearly still proud of his roots, to the point of sounding passably like an early-ish R. Plant esq. Lots of highly-pitched wails, sustained chorus lines, rock’n’roll howls, it’s uncanny how smooth his vocal chords still are!

This was a full-on band!

Next up was a medley of You Fool No-one and High Ball Shooter, introduced and finished off with more superb guitar work from our man Soren, with a humungous drum solo in the middle. I have to confess, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of drum solos, they normally bore me rigid – but Ash’s extended percussive pyrotechnics, complete with audience participation, was something new, easily the most flamboyant version I’ve ever witnessed.

Ash banging the cans

This was followed by the mighty Mistreated, Glenn recalling its humble origins being strummed by Ritchie in his kitchen. It’s a huge crowd favourite performed with power, panache and not a little passion. It started slowly, expertly re-worked by these craftsmen, and built to a suitably extended bluesy finale.

Glen introduced Getting Tighter as a tribute to his late, lamented “brother” Tommy Bolin, who sadly passed away in 1976 after just the one album (Come Taste The Band) with Purple. He concluded the main set with You Keep On Moving, again describing how it was written by David Coverdale and how the two are still great buddies in daily touch with each other.

*****

For their encore, the band ripped into Highway Star, an electric, spine-tingling, beast of a track, lapped up by the adoring crowd – and then as a fitting finale we had the title track Burn. An ageless performance, energy crackling from the stage leaving the crowd breathless but hugely appreciative.

All in all GH is a living legend, widely known as “The Voice of Rock”, and this truly was an unforgettable night where so many great songs and wonderful memories were shared. Glenn’s enthusiasm, warmth and sheer energy was hard to credit for “one of mature years” – but the best of it all was his obvious love for fellow musicians, old and new. Long may he continue to prosper!

GH in “love-in” mode!