No blue police boxes were to be seen, but plenty of vintage rock sounds were in evidence.
Hughes is currently on a lengthy world tour reprising classic Deep Purple music from their Mark III and IV era – a line up which had Glenn not just covering bass, but also vocal duties along with David Coverdale. Drummer Ian Paice, keyboard maestro Jon Lord and six-string king Ritchie Blackmore made a line up that many consider the best, and which later saw Blackmore replaced by the much-missed Tommy Bolin.
Tonight’s set opened with Stormbringer from the eponymous album, followed by a selection including Might Just Take Your Life and the funk-infused Getting Tighter culled from other ’74 and ’75 albums. This saw the band taking every opportunity to show off their talents, constantly underpinned by Hughes’ hard-hitting, melodic bass, topped by vocals that showed no passing of the passage of time.
The Tardis must have landed in his larynx, as he scored bullseye hitting notes across the octaves. When he gave Mistreated a thoroughgoing workout, you could tell he was enjoying the ability to make the most of his talents and please the grateful throng. Smoke on the Water is an anthem, and while familiarity risks breeding an element of guitar shop parody, tonight’s treatment was both respectful and playful enough to have the crowded Leeds University Union happily rocking.
A finale of Burn and then Highway Star meant the evening finished on a peak. It had been a demonstration of why Hughes is known as ‘the voice of rock’ and he was warm in his appreciation for a Yorkshire audience, telling us about the strength he had taken from the audience appreciation when he played in Leeds last, the night that he heard that his mother had died.
With a recent announcement of extended dates for the tour in the Spring, if you missed this night, you would do well to track down a ticket for one of the new gigs.