Glenn Hughes – ASB Theatre October 3, 2017


Just four months after appearing at the same venue with a tribute to Cream, former Deep Purple bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes returns to pay homage to his old band and bandmates.

There was a strange vibe in the air as fans waited for Hughes and his band to appear at Auckland’s ASB Theatre. On one hand, there was a continent that clearly came to rock out and have a good time. On the other hand, it had been a day of tragedy, with the massacre in Las Vegas and the death of rocker Tom Petty hanging in the air.

Hughes’ performance reflected both attitudes.

Taking the stage just after 8pm, Glenn Hughes was looking better than a 66-year-old survivor of 45 years of rock & roll excesses has any right to. He did have to cut his show short in Christchurch a week ago due to dehydration, but seemed in fine form tonight.

Hughes was joined by three other musicians, guitarist Jeff Kollma, Lachy Doley on organ and drummer Pontus Engborg. The quartet got right down to business, kicking off with the title track to Deep Purple’s 1974 album, Stormbringer, the first to feature Hughes.

While the three other musicians may not have been old enough to know this music when it was made in the 70s, it’s obvious that Hughes has schooled these guys on the finer points of 70s hard rock.

Guitarist Kollma had Ritchie Blackmore’s riffs down pat, along with a few of his own, and keyboard player Lachy Doley combined the showmanship of Keith Emerson with the virtuosity of the late, great Jon Lord.

The events of the day clearly weighed on Glenn Hughes who referred to the death of his friend and repeatedly reminding the audience that “love is the answer and music is the healer”.

The two hour set showed off the best and worst aspects of 70s hard rock. There were plenty of sturdy riffs and Hughes’ impressive voice was sounding strong. The band played well together, although I could have done without some of the solos. I still have nightmares of extended drum solos from back in the day, and they were flashing back here.

The majority of the material stemmed from the three Purple albums Hughes played on in the mid-70s…Stormbringer, Burn and Come Taste The Band, and while all three records have their moments, this was not Deep Purple at its finest.

This became apparent when Hughes and company ripped into Smoke On The Water and Highway Star…two pre-Hughes classics. The room really came alive as fans stood and played air guitar along with the band.

The show wrapped with Burn, the song I was waiting to hear. Hughes did not disappoint, giving the song his all and making the night a triumph.

Tom Petty’s death made us all realize that we need to appreciate these classic rockers while we can. Hughes, who is the same age as Petty was, was facing his own mortality but is determined to continue rocking as long as he can. He promised to return next year. If he does…I’ll be there.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Ivan Karczewski:

Glenn Hughes set list:

  1. Stormbringer
  2. Might Just Take Your Life
  3. Sail Away
  4. Mistreated
  5. You Fool No One
  6. This Time Around
  7. Holy Man
  8. Getting’ Tighter
  9. You Keep On Moving
  10. Smoke On The Water/Georgia On My Mind
  11. Highway Star
  12. Burn