Situated on the South East tip of the United Kingdom this lovely venue with far reaching views across the English Channel has to be one of the most scenic places I have ever watched a gig. With ample bars and a restaurant, and to top it all off a really nice chap named OLIIE has a vinyl lovers record stall within the venue…. MUSIC’S NOT DEAD…. is the name of the stall and just adds to the feel and vibe of the whole experience.
First band on was “DEAD SEA SKULLS” a quirky fun multi-talented outfit that raised the roof off the DE LA WARR.
Consisting of ASHLEY SHEEHAN / vocals, drums
NICK CRUTCHLEY / guitar
JAMES CRUTCHLEY / BASS
With the tiny drum kit placed at the front of the stage and no drum stool it soon became apparent that ASHLEY was going to be playing standing whilst singing at the same time. Hailing from Birmingham this band display showmanship beyond their years. With ASHLEY being a hyped-up, crazy drummer with an instant rapport with the audience.
Songs such as TURNING AWAY, THE REMEDY, RIDING HIGH and the catchy I WANNA BUY A ROLEX played with a style ranging from 70s rock through to high octane punk. On one particular song, part of the drum kit was passed to an audience member who banged out the rhythm while the bad members carried on regardless. Bass player JAMES with his mane of black hair was always lurking in the background whilst his brother NICK was supplying the sleazy riffs with a style that reminds me of RICH ROBINSON from THE BLACK CROWES. Not many support bands can boast to receiving a standing ovation in a seated venue but this fine outfit achieved it with ease.
When it was first announced that the man with the golden voice was going to be playing Bexhill many people’s Christmases all came at once. GLENN HUGHES is a living legend, a true man of many tales and a career of twists and turns.
Promising to play a set of classic of DEEP PURPLE songs this was gearing up to be a great spectacle. This was the first date of his UK tour and any nerves never appeared not for a minute. Bathed in simple blue light against a GLENN HUGHES backdrop we get an intro tape of a radio crackling and tuning itself through different frequencies playing PURPLE songs. Then the opening riff of STORMBRINGER comes blasting from the amps. From the off GLENN HUGHES is captivating.
he is every inch the rock star with his low strung bass and fancy clothes topped off with the dark sunglasses, and of course that voice, even the man himself admits he doesn’t understand where it comes from but believe me it send shivers down your back, I am pretty sure they heard it over the water in France. The songs were flowing like a who’s who of classics with MIGHT JUST TAKE YOUR LIFE, being played with a sensitivity to the late great JON LORD with the organ sound being spot on, and a heartfelt…. It’s good to be home from HUGHES…. a lovely touch.
This is the sort of show where you don’t need help with a set list because any rocker knows each song inside out. Another fine addition to the show is HUGHES giving the audience little snippets of stories like when BLACKMORE first played the riff in his kitchen to the song MISTREATED so that became the introduction to a monster version that simply left my jaw on the floor, a beautiful dramatic power blues song that was worth the entry money alone.. The centre piece for the show is without doubt YOU FOOL NO ONE with that insane IAN PAICE inspired cowbell drum beat that morphed into a 10 minute rock, funk, blues, jam session that climaxed in a drum solo that again was so dynamic it received another standing ovation ( I kid you not ).
The penny drops because ASHLEY SHEEHAN from the opening act is actually GLENN HUGHES official drummer, he is in fact doing double shift on this tour. As the show progressed it became apparent just how humble a man HUGHES is telling more stories about the much missed TOMMY BOLIN and how he has played GETTIN TIGHTER in nearly every one of his shows since 1976 as he feels the presence of the guitarist when he does so.
With the band operating as a four piece it was refreshing that the guitarist and keyboardist played the parts with respect to the originals and complemented the front man perfectly. So without giving too much away to anyone who has tickets for the tour I won’t give out the full set list, but what I will add is I am seriously considering catching them at another show on this tour. Tonight was a DEEP PURPLE /
GLENN HUGHES fans dream come true and how he ever hit those high notes on GEORGIA ON MY MIND is a mystery and you could have heard a pin drop before the note faded away. What I will add is that both SMOKE ON THE WATER and HIGHWAY STAR were played although HUGHES had no involvement in the original recordings, but what show would be complete with those classics ? Once again, a nice touch from the man to include what the fans want to hear.
So with the house lights finally raised after a set that stretched well beyond one and half hours it was a more than contented thousand plus people that went home. Personally, for me who seems to permanently be reviewing concerts up and down the country, for 2019 this has to be in the top 2 shows. For anyone who has a ticket for the upcoming tour you will not be disappointed and at the same time you will be grateful I didn’t give you the full set list because you can’t beat a few surprises.
Review by Steve Bruty
Photography by Darren Smith