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Glenn Hughes @ The Robin, Bilston (28/9/10)

posted 25 Jul 2011, 14:56 by Paul Woodward
I’d been really looking forward to this gig especially on the tide of recent excitement about Glenn’s new band Black Country Communion. Glenn’s current output and live shows have seen Glenn stretching his musical abilities and going off the rock track and getting a bit funky!

To be honest Glenn’s more recent musical direction hasn’t really filled me with excitement and had this show not been billed as a return to rock, I probably wouldn’t have gone. That is in no way any disrespect to a legendary singer that I’m a massive fan and supporter of - just a case of personal musical taste. But tonight was all about the ROCK!

It was great to see a massive turnout for Glenn for his only date in his beloved homeland of the Black Country - which I also believe is his longest UK tour in many years! Been Black Country born and bred myself, it’s nice to have someone who has a real passion and love for the area and its people. This was reflected in his back drop which states - Built to Last - Glenn Hughes - Made in the Black Country!

The support band was Scott McKeon, a three piece indie rock band. Personally it was nap time for me, as musicians they were faultless and obviously very good. I know the drummer seemed to be getting good reactions but this type of NME friendly indie rock bores the living shite outta me. The band only played five songs, but halfway through the set I knew my Oasis/Charlatans/Arctic Monkey’s loving mate would have thought these guys were the second coming. The band did get good reactions from the crowd and to be honest, I was probably in the minority who was inside screaming “YES!” when the singer announced the last song.

Performance-wise there’s not a lot to say, they played their instruments basically. I know that style of low key and restricted performance is prevalent in the indie rock scene, and their mates and audience would probably have took the piss out of them if they even dared to let rip and ROCK! These guys would probably crap their pants if they ever saw midlands rockers Toxic Federation perform. The only song titles I picked up were “Can’t Take No More”, “Broken Man” & “What I’ve Become”. The audience gave this band two thumbs up; I give them a quick mumble of “I knew I should have inflated my travel pillow before I got here - ahhhhhh pfffffttttt”.

Right Glenn Hughes was time to ROCK! All the band took to the stage to huge cheers and applause from the crowd and Hughes emerged with a huge smile on his face and the band kicked into the Hughes/Thrall track “Muscle & Blood”. It definitely reassured all in attendance that this set was going to be the return to rock that Hughes had promised. Hughes stated after this song it was “Good to be home!” Glenn’s band for this tour is Soren Andersen (Guitar), Anders Olinder (Keyboards) & Pontus Engborg (Drums).

With Hughes having no new solo record out at the moment, it was going to be anybody’s guess to what may be amongst the set list, all we really knew is there wasn’t going to be any BCC stuff, obviously! So we got to start off with “Touch My Love” a hugely melodic track which was featured on the Phenomena project album “Psycho Fantasy”, “Orion” from Soul Mover, Deep Purple’s “Sail Away”, Trapeze’s “Medusa” ( for those who don’t know Trapeze was Glenn’s first band before joining Purple). All the songs were delivered in a full-on rock show style; Glenn is a natural born performer and one of the most entertaining front men I’ve ever seen. Hughes spent the whole night bouncing round the stage and rocking out like there was no tomorrow. He is also very expressional in his stage act and never afraid to perform, which I absolutely love, far better than singers who stick their hands in their pockets and grunt into a microphone!

Obviously, Hughes was probably the one people were drawn too given his natural charisma, but the whole band put on a show too. With the exception of keyboardist Anders Olinder who came across quite shy and laid back. Whilst he may not have been jumping around, his contribution to the band’s sound and performance were faultless and essential. The drummer Pontus Engborg as Glenn told us he did indeed beat the crap out of the drum kit. His flair and performance helped make sure this was a full on ROCK-N-ROLL show. I’m sure Soren Andersen will have his own fan club after this tour as he is a fantastic guitar player, but he also has a confidence and swagger about his performance and style that went down really well with not just the music but the audience too. Glenn was obviously big fans of these guys and throughout the night showered praise on all of them.

My highlight of the set came during the middle of the performance - “You Kill Me” from The Way It Is album. An absolutely storming performance from the band, and it truly was Glenn in full on rock mode; the song just grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and demanded me and those around me to ROCK! We then got “Can’t Stop the Flood” from Building the Machine before Glenn sneaked in a couple of funky tunes “Crave” from FUNK and “Don’t Let Me Bleed” from Soul Mover. He apologised to the crowd before doing “Don’t Let Me Bleed”, but he just needed to do this one to help him recharge every night, to be honest I don’t think the crowd cared they loved these songs just as much as the others.

There was a little bit of a serious moment when Hughes played and dedicated “Keepin’ Time” to Mel Galley. He also took this moment to remember and acknowledge many people who have passed away in the past couple of years, not just famous but personal friends of his own too, he also mentioned the scarf he was wearing was Kevin Dubrow’s…..R.I.P. We then got “Steepin’ On” from music for the divine & “Soul Mover” to wrap up a fantastic rocking set, which left the crowd baying for more, “Hughesy, Hughesy, Hughesy!!!”

Hughes is naturally very funny and was amusing throughout the night; he also comes across as a very deep and emotional person who personally endears me to him as it makes him more real and relatable. Also whilst he puts on a great show he never tries to be a rock star and he talks, treats and interacts with the audience like we’re all his friends. He shares plenty of banter and humour with us and is constantly pointing and acknowledging members of the audience with a huge smile on his face.

Hughes also talked a lot in between the songs but never to the detriment of the flow of the music. He mentions his love of the area and its people where he spent his youth and his formative musical years. Sadly, he said his Mom and Dad couldn’t be there tonight. He told us that he was from a working class background like most people here and that his mom and dad had to buy his first guitars on the knock. It’s great to have someone from round here so openly proud and unashamed of the area, its people and most of our backgrounds - he’s proud to be one of us! Given the reputation of the area over the years, it can get a little disheartening when people turn their nose up at the area and stereotype us all as scumbags regardless of who we are individually but just because of where we live. So for someone as famous and in the spotlight as Glenn Hughes to stand and shout “I’m from the Black Country and I’m proud of IT!” is truly endearing and heartwarming. Not just to myself but to everyone who was born, raised and living in the Black Country.

During the set, he would frequently slip into a Black Country accent and his impression of Jason Bonham and his story of naming Black Country Communion was truly hilarious. He also humorously introduced us to his PA Tolle (If it isn’t that he was calling him troll!) on a few occasions when he needed a towel or a bottle of water. There was a great moment when Glenn sighed mid set and said “It’s good to breathe again” and someone in the audience shouted “It’s the Black Country air”! Given his obvious love of the area Glenn also mentioned people asked why he chose to live in LA, and he tells them all he wishes he could take everyone in the black country out to LA. He also said it brings him back down to earth round here like when your popping to the shop and you look at someone and - slips into black country accent - “They say - What the fook you looking at!” and he humorously sighed! Glenn asked us if we liked the sound tonight and pointed out his amps which are Laney a local firm, who he sates he’s always used which just proves his loyalty and support to local businesses.

So after a short but appropriately noisy intermission the band return for one final blast of rock returning to the stage to play “Addiction” & Deep Purple’s “Burn” which the band all let rip on, especially Soren whose swagger and confidence brings that famous Purple riff to big dirty life! An absolutely fantastic show and highly entertaining from one of the true greats of Rock, I so can’t wait for Black Country Communion to hit the road now!

Although tonight was about Hughes solo, he did mention BCC on a couple of occasions. He thanked everyone who may have brought the album and made it the UK’s number one rock album. He also said that the band was his homage to the area and this band was for US and that the band would be hitting the road next year. I’m hoping that this means the band will always play a gig here as obviously everyone knows (and if you didn’t you do now) that Birmingham is not part of the Black Country (they wish!). I’ve heard rumblings of a Christmas gig that may happen in the Black Country which would be BCC’s first official gig in the UK! So stop moaning if you’re not local Glenn’s said this OUR band, so tough shit! I know where I want this gig to happen so fingers crossed…….see you all there…..I’ll be in my favourite spot… last time. “I am a messenger, this is my prophecy, and I’m going back to the Black Country”