Glenn Hughes was playing Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, CA, on Friday September 8, and to get that stage suitably warm for tour mate Yngwie Malmsteen, the Voice of Rock sent out a WhatsApp to draft his Black Country Communion bandmate Joe Bonamassa on electric guitar for trio of Deep Purple classics.
This being Los Angeles, and a Friday night, Hughes went all in and what-the-heck just went and got Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to play with them, too. Why not, right?
The more the merrier, and Smith looked like he really enjoyed the big hits on Highway Star and Burn, even going so far as to – gently – knock Ash Sheehan’s kit over as the occasion got the better of him.
The signs were there that Hughes might have some guest company onstage. Bonamassa hinted at some action for one of the most famous Gibson Les Pauls in his collection at Nerdville, posing on Instagram with his Bolin ‘Burst – so-called because the single-cut with the starred-and-barred pickguard was once owned by Tommy Bolin.
Some might wonder if a Fender Stratocaster would have been a deeper shade of purple, in keeping with Ritchie Blackmore’s weapon of choice – and surely JoBo has one or two of them lying around at home – but the Bolin ‘Burst was the perfect choice for such an occasion, having served time in Deep Purple when Bolin played in the British rock institution after replacing the outgoing Blackmore in ’75 and ushering in the MkIV lineup.
The Bolin ‘Burst is also the ideal instrument for stretching the epic blues of Mistreated into a 15-minute jam, with a little call and response between Bonamassa on the ‘Burst and Hughes on bass guitar, and for dialing in the firepower for Burn and Highway Star. Besides, Søren Andersen, Hughes' regular guitarist, was on-hand with the Strat.
Hughes’ co-headlining run with Malmsteen is billed the Classic Deep Purple Live Tour and is packed with MkIII and IV cuts, which seems to indicate a change of heart from rock icon. Speaking to Bass Player in 2021, he expressed some amount of regret at his decision to leave Trapeze and join Deep Purple.
“In retrospect, I really should never have left Trapeze. With no disrespect at all meant towards Deep Purple, there’s not much swagger going on in that band,” he said. “It wasn’t a great role for me as far as the bass player that I am goes. Songs like Burn are very straight and strict, you know. That’s the way I feel these days – truly. Leaving Trapeze has been the torment of my life, but I had to let it go.”
It didn’t look that way on Friday night. Burn with JoBo on lead, Smith smashing the drums? That looked like enormous fun. You can check out Mistreated, Burn and Highway Star above thanks to Brian James on YouTube.