Artist: Glenn Hughes, The Damn Truth
Venue: Manchester, Academy 2
Date: 29 October 2023
"Taking to the stage like a returning hero, he launched into the ‘Stormbringer’ title track, belying his seventy-two years and sounding exactly as he did during his Purple heyday."
I have no affection at all for the Academy 2 venue in Manchester. After two visits earlier in 2023 that resulted in unpleasant experiences due to the shows clearly being oversold, I vowed never to return again. The attraction of Glenn Hughes playing Deep Purple Mk III and IV classics led me to change my mind, but now I am adamant it will be my last time.
Though familiar with the name, I was unfamiliar with The Damn Truth’s recorded output. They had received glowing reviews in the press for the live shows, so I was keen to check them out for myself. When I took my place in the photo pit, the room was barely a third full. This seemed to bother the band very little as they stormed through opener ‘This Is Who We Are Now’ as if they were in a stadium in front of thousands. The stage presence and energy levels of all four band members was off the charts from the off and the spectacle gave the songs an extra identity. Lee-la Baum has a Janis Joplin wail and her impact was instant. Tom Shemer (guitar) and PY Letellier (bass) were in constant motion, throwing shapes and interacting at every opportunity and even though he was hidden slightly in the shadows, drummer Dave Traina was also non-stop. ‘Full On You’ and ‘Too Late’ had something of a Bluesy swagger, full of seventies attitude and bravado and I was disappointed I had to move to the back of the now packed room after my three song allocation, as being up so close to the action is the perfect way to take in the whole The Damn Truth experience. The forty-minute, eight song set went by in the blink of an eye and, based on the reception they received, they were clearly a big hit.
I struggled to make my way out again, so that I could take my place in the pit for the Glenn Hughes set. Even though the room was packed, I was astonished to see a huge queue of people still waiting to get in. My Spidey senses started to tingle. It was clearly obvious that not everyone would be able to get in, to watch the show in comfort.
After spending a number of years fronting The Dead Daisies, Glenn Hughes has resumed his solo career to pay tribute to the Deep Purple years that resulted in the albums ‘Burn’, ‘Stormbringer’ and ‘Come Taste The Band’. Taking to the stage like a returning hero, he launched into the ‘Stormbringer’ title track, belying his seventy-two years and sounding exactly he did during his Purple heyday. The band (Soren Andersen on guitar, Ash Sheehan on drums and Bob Fridzema on keyboards) were incredibly tight, reproducing that iconic sound, it seemed, with ease. ‘Might Just Take Your Life’ and ‘Sail Away’ followed, both extended slightly to showcase some high quality musicianship. Unfortunately that was when my enjoyment came to an end. I left the photo pit once more and walked round to the other side of the building and up the stairs, only to find people stood outside on the landing unable to get into the room. Though encouraged to try, those just inside the doors had nowhere to go to make any more space. Some tried to watch through the little windows in the doors, whilst some, including myself, decided to leave.
I have a big issue with this particular venue (as well as the main Academy building). It is great that artists are selling out shows, but event organisers need to keep the safety and well-being of those paying for tickets at the front of their mind. I am in no way claustrophobic, yet I was uneasy during the end of The Damn Truth set and extremely disappointed when I could not get back in to watch Glenn Hughes complete his. You know it is too full when you can’t even lift up your hand to scratch your nose. The Damn Truth were fantastic and so was the twenty minutes I saw of Glenn Hughes. I hope those that managed to catch the full show had a great time, but I won’t be back again….and I mean it this time.
Review & Photos: Dave Bott