@ The Sage Gateshead, September 27 2010

Glenn Hughes must be on course to hoover up every rock gong going in 2010.

The ultimate High Voltage highlight, the driving force behind this year’s ultimate supergroup and now slaying crowds nationwide with a solo show par excellence: in the twilight of his career this rocker’s star has rarely shone brighter.

Hughes has, of course, always boasted one of the finest blues rock voices on the planet. What he’s lacked in the past is focus and sound judgement. Now, having experienced some kind of retro epiphany, the real Hughes has, once again, stepped out of the shadows. His time is now. And it’s about time too.

Fitted snugly into the neat and tidy surroundings of the Sage’s welcoming Hall Two, Hughes seemed right at home. For a while Tyneside was a home from home and for one night only a feeling of familiarity was achieved without any fuss or false platitudes. The crowd on his side and the sides crammed with passionate followers, this gig was never going to fail. That it developed into such a soaring, sensational triumph was, nevertheless, wholly unexpected.

Drawing on gems from Deep Purple, Trapeze and his rockier solo releases Hughes reminded those present that, at various moments during the past 40 years, he has had it all. Four decades on from its ambitious conception, the magical Medusa still sounds like one of the best classic rock tracks you’ll ever hear and this version put the tingle into spine tingling.

But in terms of pure, raw emotion it was impossible to look beyond a truly remarkable rendition of Don’t Let Me Bleed. Epic stuff and delivered from the heart it may well be the standout live track of 2010 – that’ll be another gong there then.

Surrounding himself with a crack team of Scando melodic rock maestros, Hughes never looked or sounded anything less than at ease with himself and his intimate surroundings – unlike his keyboard player Anders Olinder. Refusing to remove his coat and scarf all night, the poor lad looked like he expected to leave at any minute only to play one more song at his leader’s behest. Or maybe he was just chilly.

Whatever, he was good. And in the superb Soren Andersen, Hughes served up a real treat to his own Toon Army – the light fingered guitar hero nailing every last note and peaking on the set closing Burn.

That trademark 70s standard can never have sounded better. Really. Hughes breathed new life into the Purple classic and at 58 he is a rocker reborn. Or reborn again depending on your point of view. Revelling in Black Country Communion’s top spot in the UK rock charts and belting through his back catalogue with gay abandon these are heady times for a true national treasure.

If this is the beginning of the end of a magical musical journey then hitch a lift. It really will be the ride of your life.