@Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House, October 20 2015

Given the Voice Of Rock was in town this was more an opportunity to marvel at three of the most intuitive, instinctive and irrepressibly infectious guitarists on the rock music scene.

Glenn Hughes was billed as the main event and the former Trapeze, Deep Purple and Black Country Communion favourite fully justified his headline status with a stirring set of classic rock standards. 

However, there was no escaping the fact that guitars were the stars. County Durham’s Peter Shoulder kicked it all off with a blues-rich set of soulful solo material before Jared James Nichols ensured his Newcastle debut would be remembered as a trailblazing triumph of modern Southern Rock.

And then there was ‘Deadly’ Dough Aldrich – swapping one Purple-obsessed frontman for another and given the freedom of the Tyne Theatre stage to prove David Coverdale’s loss is Hughes’ considerable gain.

Shoulder is making the most of The Union’s current hiatus to complete a new solo album and tour under his own name later this year. A last-minute addition to Tuesday night’s line-up, it was a pity only a handful of punters witnessed a typically affecting show – wrapped up with a much-missed Winterville classic. Look out for December’s headline show at The Cluny when a full band will be backing a genuine local hero.

Nichols arrived in the UK last week riding high on a wave of critical acclaim for new album Old Glory & The Wild Revival. Flanked by a robust rhythm section and blessed with a sackful of blues-soaked Southern Rock anthems, the imposing American more than justified the hype. A baby Bonamassa? Maybe.

Aldrich had a tough act to follow. But his partnership with Hughes has already paid dividends: a long-standing friendship (the pair were introduced by Ronnie James Dio in the 80s) has blossomed into a seriously impressive professional relationship built to last.

Such is Aldrich’s talent, experience and endearing exuberance that he could comfortably steal the show. And he almost did. Hughes has long since let go of that infamous ego and frequently appeared content to cede the limelight to the man on his right. Aldrich snapped up the opportunity but one solo too many took the edge off another six–string masterclass.

Both Hughes and his latest sidekick were guilty of making far too much of the Purple classic Mistreated: in David Coverdale country there was no faulting a sensational vocal but did it have to go on quite so long?

Brilliant reprising Black Country Communion, tackling Trapeze with ease and in thrilling form on Hughes Thrall’s First Step Of Love, the 64-year-old centre of attention never faltered. Hughes signed off by promising to focus fully on live music for the foreseeable future – a decision met with wild approval by the swaying masses.

  • Image by John Burrows