Yngwie Malmsteen, Glenn Hughes, and Southbound Beretta unleash the burning fury in Hudson Falls

On Friday, August 18, Swedish stratocaster maestro Yngwie Malmsteen and legendary ex-Deep Purple ‘voice of rock’ Glenn Hughes rolled into the Strand Theater in Hudson Falls, New York.

Yngwie Malmsteen at The Strand Theater in Hudson Falls
Yngwie Malmsteen – Photo by Derek Java

A note on the Strand Theater – this was my first time at this venue, a great, small theater with a large balcony and smaller floor, all seated, where a few hundred people can fit.  It was fairly full on this Friday night; if not sold out, it was close.  The near capacity crowd was all-in for a night of vintage heavy with a great co-headline double-bill.  This was the first night of the Malmsteen-Hughes pairing, which is touring across America through the end of September.

The Strand Theater – Photo by Derek Java

The doors opened a bit later than advertised, as first-night soundchecking took some time.  Luckily there’s an Irish pub next door.  The gig started fairly quickly after they let the crowd in – there was a band on before the co-headliners – Southbound Beretta, from Indianapolis, IN.  Young guys, not a southern rock or country band as the name suggests, but full-on, blasting, loud, raw heavy rock.  Motorhead springs to mind.  Two guitars, bass, solid drummer.  One of the guitar player sings, and his voice invokes maybe a cross between Lemmy and Blackfoot’s Rickey Medlocke.  An odd band to see in a seated venue, these guys should be playing loud in a sweaty bar with cheap beer and whiskey.  They had only time for four or five songs, I only caught one song title, “Two For One” (“about a threesome”, said the singer), but it was headshaking stuff.  Tons of energy, lots of headbanging and onstage activity that reminded me of early Metallica or Raven.

Southbound Baretta
Southbound Baretta – Photo by Derek Java

Glenn Hughes played next.  Ageless is a common cliche floated for any 70s-80s rockers who are still treading stages, often well past their expiration dates, but Hughes, 74 this year, truly is.  Still rock-star skinny, full head of hair, and most importantly that legendary voice – unlike many of his peers of the 70s heavy rock vintage, Glenn’s voice is still there, amazing as ever.  This is fairly astounding in light of his storied history of excess.  He, of course, began with the Birmingham, UK trio Trapeze in the early 70s before joining Deep Purple in 1973 as bassist/vocalist with future Whitesnake man David Coverdale as replacements for the departed Ian Gillan and Roger Glover.  As impossible as replacing Gillan would seem, Hughes/Coverdale did it, and in spades, producing 3 classic records (Burn, Stormbringer and Come Taste the Band), before dissolving in 1976. 

By this time, Hughes (by his own admission) was deeply awash in cocaine and other habits, and for the rest of the 70s and all of the 80s, while he produced some sporadic, quality work (some reunion tours with Trapeze, the cult classic Hughes/Thrall record in 1982, some vocals on Gary Moore’s Run for Cover record in 1985, and Black Sabbath’s solid but ill-fated Seventh Star in 1986), these projects were torpedoed by his addictions.  Amazingly, he’s been clean since ‘91, and in recent decades his solo records and other projects (with Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, Black Country Communion, the Dead Daisies and more) have been some of his best ever.

Glenn Hughes
Glenn Hughes – Photo by Derek Java

This tour is to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Deep Purple’s Burn album (which actually came out in early ‘74), but instead of a front-to-back set of that album alone, Hughes played a mix of classics mostly from his era of Deep Purple, kicking off with a pummeling “Stormbringer” into Burn’s “Might Just Take Your Life”.  It was great hearing him sing both the Coverdale and his own parts from these DP classics.  His band is astoundingly good: Søren Andersen (guitar), Ash Sheehan (drums) and Bob Fridzema (keyboards).  Anderson handled the Ritchie Blackmore and Tommy Bolin guitar parts admirably, and while Fridzema’s keyboards maybe could have been mixed louder, Sheehan’s drums were brilliantly hammering, and brought an added vigor to these great tunes. 

And what a set of songs: you can’t go wrong with the funky, stomping “Sail Away”, or the extended “Mistreated”, on which Anderson earned his wage admirably, with Glenn ad-libbing and adding to Coverdale’s straight-blues take on the original.  What a set of pipes on this guy.  And kudos to Hughes for finishing the regular set with a couple of tunes from the underrated, Tommy Bolin-era Come Taste the Band, an enlarged, astoundingly roaring “Gettin’ Tighter” followed by “You Keep on Moving”, truly great renditions.  The lights came on and it appeared to be over, but happily the band strolled back out and encored with the Ian Gillan-era classic “Highway Star” (Hughes handing his bass to a crew member for that one, and hitting every Gillan note as a microphone-toting frontman), before Glenn grabbed his bass again and the band wrapped it up with, of course, “Burn”, a blazing, triumphant version.  Yngwie’s work was cut out for him.

Glenn Hughes
Glenn Hughes and guitarist Soren Andersen – Photo by Derek Java

This writer has not seen Yngwie play live in a long, long time.  His first NYS Capital Region show was in June 1984, he was probably 20, as part of the band Alactrazz, fronted by ex-Rainbow singer Graham Bonnet, at the Palace Theater in Albany opening for Ted Nugent.  Malmsteen dazzled that night, and I snapped up the ‘84 debut Yngwie record ‘Rising Force’ immediately upon release, and that killer mostly-instrumental debut LP was a favorite at the time.  To be honest, after a few years I stopped keeping up with his records – his solo band played some good shows opening for AC/DC and Iron Maiden locally, but by the time he reached headliner status for several area shows, I’d checked out.

This tour is promoted as featuring Yngwie’s ‘greatest hits’, but frankly as he had few actually ‘hits’ (other than “If You Don’t Remember, I’ll Never Forget”, a minor mid-80s radio song, played this night as the set-closer), it was more accurately a career-spanning best-of.  While some may mock the “unleash the fury”, irony-free presentation, you can’t deny how outstanding the Swede is at what he does.  The speed, dexterity and burning intensity of his playing has not abated.  The guy is truly an amazing player.

Yngwie Malmsteen
Yngwie Malmsteen – Photo by Derek Java

If you wanted Yngwie fucking Malmsteen, full-on and roaring, this night did not disappoint.  In recent years he was doing solo shows, him alone, singing and playing live to backing tracks, but (happily) not this tour.  He had a keyboards/bass/drum backing band, all in the corner of stage left.  There was a towering “wall of amps” at the back of the stage, maybe 35-40% of which were actually on.  Yngwie’s band in the old days always featured a singer out front, but now he does the singing, with the keyboardist and bassist backing him up, and he sounded just fine.  The sound itself was crushingly loud, which sometimes made Yngwie’s solos swamped and distorted, and it was clear there were some sound and pedalboard issues throughout the night.

But he played amazingly, looked great for a guy who must be approaching or past 60, clad as you’d expect in black leather pants, black cowboy boots, a black shirt open to the waist and long, jet-black hair and big sideburns.  I mean, you wouldn’t want Yngwie wearing an age-appropriate sweater and corduroys with a neat haircut, would you?  Hell, no.  Note should be made of the hardest-working man on the night, Yngwie’s roadie, who would dutifully switch guitars for the man, often while scooping up the previous guitar, dropped by the boss and feedbacking on the ground, while taping row after row of guitar picks to Yngwie’s mic stand between seemingly every song – every punter in the front rows must have gotten a half-dozen guitar picks, which Malmsteen hurled, flicked and kicked into the crowd all night.

Yngwie Malmsteen
Yngwie Malmsteen – Photo by Derek Java

The setlist covered the whole span of his discography, the only notable omission being the ‘85 Marching Out record, which wasn’t featured at all in the set.  Yngwie spoke to the crowd a few times, but the echo on his microphone made it hard to make out what he was saying.  But chat wasn’t the point – the long set moved fast, from song to song, with as many arpeggios and fugues and neo-classical superheroisms as the day is long.  As a first-album enthusiast, it was great to hear “Now Your Ships are Burned” (Malmsteen handling the vocal admirably), “Far Beyond the Sun” and an absolutely ripping “Evil Eye” in there.  There were also a few covers, the most odd being “Smoke on the Water” – Yngwie has always been a Blackmore devotee, and it was a great version, but a strange choice when you’re co-headlining with an actual member of Deep Purple.  Or maybe it was a perfect choice.  The show was long, loud and unrelenting.  As you’d want, really.

A great show – in a footrace, Yngwie may have won in terms of volume, bombast and merciless intensity, but Glenn had the songs, the vibe, and overall the better set of the night.  All three bands were top-notch though – kudos to the Strand Theater for booking such a great night of heaviness.

Southbound Beretta setlist: Drive, Two for One, Petal to the Metal, Name on a Bullet.

Glenn Hughes setlist: Stormbringer, Might Just Take Your Life, Sail Away, You Fool No One, Mistreated, Gettin’ Tighter, You Keep On Moving, Highway Star, Burn.

Yngwie Malmsteen setlist (approximate): Rising Force, Baroque and Roll, Like an Angel, Relentless Fury, Now Your Ships Are Burned, Wolves at the Door, (Si Vis Pacem) Parabellum, Badinerie, Far Beyond the Sun, The Star-Spangled Banner, Seventh Sign, Tacotta, Evil Eye, Smoke on the Water, Trilogy (Vengeance), Brothers, Fugue, You Don’t Remember, I’ll Never Forget, Black Star.

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