I knew very little about Jared James Nichols prior to the gig, so a quick bit of research in the pub beforehand was required.
It transpires that this Wisconsin kid is just twenty six years old but is already cementing his place in the annals of Rock N’ Roll history thanks to his debut release ‘Live at the Viper Room’ and his first full length studio album, ‘Old Glory & The Wild Revival’ – which only came out earlier this month.
Johnny Main: Photos by Carlan Braid
If you add a series of successful tours supporting the likes of ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd into the mix, then his addition to the Glenn Hughes UK tour bill isn’t without merit, and as the house lights dim and the music playing over the PA cuts out, there’s warm applause from the healthy crowd who’ve turned out to see him play his first ever gig in Glasgow.
A cursory welcome is given from Nichols who quickly introduces Erik Sandin on bass guitar and Dennis Holm on drums before they lay into the first number, ‘Blackfoot’, which takes a few people by surprise at the volume – it’s going to be a loud night!
‘Crazy’ slowed the pace slightly but still retained a heavy guitar riff from Nichols while Holm punched out the slow and powerful beat. Nichols’ guitar punctuated the vocal lines well and as the guitar solo came in, the pace quickened and got those down in front of the stage nodding along.
Not scared to add a few covers into the mix, Nichols announced a cover of the Rick Derringer track ‘Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo’ which got some hollers of approval from the ever building audience. It was a good rendition of the song, albeit with a slightly raggedy solo from Nichols – but then that’s the charm of live music, isn’t it?
“Are there any blues fans in tonight?” asks Nichols to a decidedly mixed response before he related a tale of the band going to Mississippi to visit the grave of legendary Delta Blues musician Robert Johnson where they drank some whiskey to remember him by.
A cover of Johnson’s ‘Come On In My Kitchen’ followed, which was another great band performance. The song just exuded power in its simplicity and Nichols, along with the rest of the band, certainly did it justice with Nichol’s guitar solo among his best of the night.
So good was their version, in fact, that I subsequently picked up a copy of the bands current album, ‘Old Glory and the Wild Revival’ on which the track appears, just to hear it again – outstanding.
Another track from his new record, ‘Can You Feel it?’ was up next, and after the intensity of the previous performance, it got the tightly packed crowd nodding along to a fast paced beat from Holm while Sandin lets slip a smile to those in the front row in between throwing his unruly mop of dark hair around.
‘Playing For Keeps’ had the crowd clapping along to the bass drum beat without being asked as Nichols and Sandin indulging in some onstage tomfoolery before the guitar riff flowed freely. This was one of Nichols’ most aggressive performances as he gave it everything.
You can see how much the song means to him as he punished his guitar through the extended solo – most of which was done on his knees with the guitar ready to feedback at any moment only to be brought back from the brink in a terrific example of showmanship.
With time pressing, the band kick into the final number, a rollicking version of Mountain’s ‘Mississippi Queen’ which got the seal of approval from the audience and really was the icing on the cake, and a great way to end their set.
The crowd may have be modest in number when the band first walked out on stage but by the time their set had finished, Nichols and his band had enraptured the crowd and, it seems, gained a whole host of new fans in the process.
Jared James Nichols Set List:
Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo
Come On In My Kitchen
Can You Feel It?
Playing for Keeps
Jared James Nichols Band are:
Jared James Nichols – Vocals/Guitar
Erik Sandin – Bass Guitar
Dennis Holm – Drums
Glenn Hughes has come a long way in his sixty four years. After fronting the British funk rock band Trapeze during the late Sixties and early Seventies, in 1973 he was recruited as bass player in Deep Purple to replace the recently departed Roger Glover, where he continued until the band’s eventual break up in 1976.
From there, Hughes released his first solo album, ‘Play Me Out’ in 1977, before keeping out of the spotlight as he battled an addiction to cocaine. In the early Eighties he resurfaced in a short lived collaboration with ex-Pat Travers guitarist Pat Thrall called Hughes/Thrall, which fell apart as both members were unable to tour to promote their album due to their addiction to drugs.
During the mid-late Eighties, Hughes collaborated with Gary Moore and appeared on the ‘Seventh Star’ solo album by Tony Iommi (though the record company insisted this was released under the Black Sabbath banner, which it eventually was), however he had recurring health problems which began to seriously affect his work.
As the Nineties opened up ahead of him, Hughes had become clean and sober, and collaborated with acts as diverse as KLF and ex-Europe guitarist John Norum as well as embarking on a solo fairly successful career. By 2005, he was back on top form when he released his ‘Soul Mover’ album which was followed by ‘Music for the Divine’ in 2006 and then ‘First Underground Nuclear Kitchen’ in 2008.
Hooking up with drummer Jason Bonham and renowned guitarist Joe Bonamassa in 2009, Hughes formed the much lauded Black Country Communion who released three acclaimed studio albums and saw them tour sporadically, mainly due to their busy individual schedules, however, this wasn’t to last, as Bonamassa eventually quit the band in 2013.
Not to be left high and dry and eager to prove he could still rock, Hughes continued working with Bonham under the California Breed moniker and they released their self titled album in 2013.
With time on his hands, Hughes is more than happy to take to the stage under his own name, with help from ex-Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich and drummer Pontus Engborg, to tour songs from throughout his entire career and it was his stop at The Garage in Glasgow where I caught up with the band mid-way through their UK tour.
There was a huge roar from the packed crowd lights went down and the band finally made their way onstage, with Hughes beaming from ear to ear from the minute he stepped into the limelight. Kicking off their set with the Deep Purple number ‘Stormbringer’, the audience were ecstatic as they sang along while Hughes stalked the stage leaving the showmanship up to Aldrich with a guitar performance that some artists would leave until the end of the show – not the first number!
‘Orion’ from the ‘Soul Mover’ album had Engborg pounding out the solid beat as the crowd roar approval once again. Hughes had an issue with his in-ear monitoring which distracted him slightly but it wasn’t long before he was back on track.
‘Way Back To The Bone’ is the first of a duo of Trapeze numbers had Aldrich leading the way and the audience were happy to clap along and he showed how much fun he was having. Aldrich encouraged the front row to get involved before he and Hughes faced off to the delight of the crowd.
Before the other Trapeze number in the set, ‘Touch My Life’, Hughes talked about his Trapeze cohort, Mel Galley whom Hughes mentioned in the same breath as the likes of George Harrison and Eric Clapton as a gifted guitar player – something that got a huge ovation from the audience. The song itself is another knock out track with Aldrich playing an understated performance letting his guitar do the talking before he unleashed an outstanding guitar solo.
“We’d better get back to some (Deep) Purple songs, eh?” said Hughes during the introduction to ‘Sail Away’ before reminiscing about Ritchie Blackmore writing the basic track at Clearwell Castle.
“God Bless Tommy Bolin” shouted someone in the middle of the audience but the cry went unheard by Hughes. The track itself had a note perfect intro from Aldrich which garnered huge applause and as the song property started it was another chance for the audience to clap and sing along and they did so without any prompting. Engborg was truly mesmerising during the number, and the huge smile on his face told you everything, you needed to know about his night.
A quick nod to Aldrich’s previous role in Whitesnake takes the form of ‘Good To Be Bad’ which is an excuse for Aldrich to fling his Les Paul around in exuberant fashion and I’m sure that Coverdale would be proud of this barnstorming version – it’s just that the audience seemed a bit less keen on the song.
Aldrich stepped up to centre stage for his guitar solo which was dogged by some wag shouting “play some Blackmore stuff!” and his wish came true as the solo segued nicely into another Purple classic – ‘Mistreated’ – which silenced the critics (or should that be moaners) with a sterling version of the track.
So loud are the audience during the choruses that the band surrendered at one point and let the audience finish the chorus for them – you really can’t beat a Glasgow audience can you?
If the “Ritchie Blackmore Fan Club” in the audience weren’t convinced by Aldrich’s abilities on guitar before the song, they were certainly a tad quieter afterwards, and for me, it was a real gem in the band’s set.
Of course, there had to be a couple Black Country Communion songs in the set too, the first of which was ‘One Last Soul’, one of the very first tracks Hughes wrote with Jason Bonham. It gets a somewhat muted response from the audience but it was still a corker of a performance.
The other track, ‘Black Country’ received a much better response and seems to be much more appreciated by the packed crowd judging by the reaction at its conclusion. “I’m going to be doing this until I’m dead – it’s so great” exclaims Hughes to huge applause before adding “I’d play all night if I could!”
Sadly due to time pressures, there wasn’t much time left, so the band readied themselves for the final number of the evening. “I was touring with (Red Hot Chilli Peppers drummer) Chad Smith who suggested playing ‘Burn’ explains Hughes as the audience erupt with delight. “I wasn’t sure” continued Hughes when the audience eventually settled down “but we did it and it went well, so we’ll play it for you now”.
Hughes mentioned that David Coverdale (who is currently on tour with Whitesnake) has given Hughes his blessing to play the track – and my God what a blistering version of the song it is! It’s an inspired way to end the evening and it’s a true crowd pleaser as the band and audience are united in a glorious rendition of a true Purple classic – I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a pair of hands in the house not clapping along and there wasn’t a single person not singing along either.
Hughes said earlier in the evening that he wanted to embrace to his past and he did more than did that. He played a solid set that was filled with new material and lots of elements from Hughes’s rich musical history – now, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia but Hughes proves he’s so much more than just a nostalgia act – he’s a bonafide rock and roller who still has much to offer and the fact he’ll be touring as much as he can from now on can only be seen as a bonus.
Now, when’s he next playing a UK tour because I’ll be queuing up for my tickets as soon as they go on sale.
Glenn Hughes Set List:
Way Back to the Bone
First Step of Love
Touch My Life
Good to Be Bad
Can’t Stop the Flood Jam
One Last Soul
Glenn Hughes Band are:
Glenn Hughes – Vocals/Bass Guitar
Doug Aldrich – Guitar
Pontus Engborg – Drums