In the mid-seventies there were three colossi of UK rock, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple. They dominated the earth for millions of years and their descendants can still be seen in the wild, mainly at Download festival every year.
Tonight, we concentrate on Deep Purple because in 1974 they suffered a seismic shift in their line-up, long time vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover left the band, they were controversially replaced by hairy Northern sex God David Coverdale and the bassist from Trapeze Glenn Hughes. Fans were (and still are) divided, would this turn the rock behemoth that was Purple into a dreaded funk band?
Their apprehension would have been allayed with the release of Burn (1974) a fine album indeed full of super Ritchie Blackmore solos and memorable tunes yet with an imperceptible change in their sound. Hughes contributed joint vocal duties and a looser more flexible bass guitar sound, they followed this at the end of the year with the equally strong Sormbringer .
In late 1975 this line up managed to salvage enough material for the lacklustre album Come taste the band, which proved to be their last for a while and the band slowly disintegrated.
Blackmore eventually returned with Rainbow and since then Glenn has played with everyone from Black Sabbath to The Dead Daisies, a much in demand musician with a great history behind him, you might think his age might have slowed him down, as we shall see this proved no barrier.
The headbangers are ready to rock, albeit with slightly less hair than back in the day
Before Glenn though are The Damn Truth, a ridiculously energetic support band that are led by charismatic frontwoman Lee La Baum who is the owner of one hell of voice, she gets the crowd well whipped up, sounding at times like Janis Joplin on steroids. Immediately prior to their entrance the sound system plays the old Jefferson Airplane hit White Rabbit and the band collectively celebrate that marvelous line Feed your head, feed your head.
Playing all their own material they won many people over with their impassioned set.
Hughes eventually appears and at 71 he’s still got more hair than my wife ( I’m just jealous, I had hair once), he’s still got an extraordinary high vocal range, every bit the entertainer he works the crowd, recalling anecdotes and with obvious joy plays his heart out, we get Stormbringer, Might just take your life and an incredible version of Mistreated in which guitarist Soren Andersen takes proceedings to another level with some incredible lead guitar work.
There’s the inevitable drum solo from Ash Sheehan which gives us ample time to nip out for a four-course meal, a glass of wine and a guided tour of Nottingham from the top deck of a double decker bus and have a fag.
Highway Star and Burn finish off a great gig, time to revisit those Deep Purple albums methinks.
By John Haylock