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Yngwie Malmsteen & Glenn Hughes

A double barreled dose of rock history just wrapped up a summer tour with Fort Lauderdale being the next to last stop for Glenn Hughes and Yngwie Malmsteen. Glenn Hughes has been part of several acts over the past 50 years, but he is arguably best known for his time in Deep Purple from 1973 to 1984. This tour was in part to commemorate the 50th anniversary their LP Burn, of which he played bass and co-sang lead vocals with David Coverdale. Local resident and guitar overlord Yngwie Malmsteen co-headlined the trek and touted it for him as a “Greatest Hits” show. It was Friday, September 22 at The Parker Playhouse that South Florida got to witness the magic.

Voxx, a four-piece band out of Tampa, kicked off the show with high energy to get the crowd warmed up. A static-filled radio style transmission later introduced Glenn Hughes and his crew. They promptly blasted into “Stormbringer” and “Might Just Take Your Life.” I was surprised that the house lights never went completely off, but remained on at about 60% power. It was as if Glenn wanted to be able to see his fans.

As the performance went on, his voice seemed crisp. He screamed and hit the high notes like he did decades earlier. As many singers age, their voices tend to lose the range they once enjoyed. The bands then need to compensate by tuning down their instruments to accommodate the new range of the singer. Glenn is one of very few that still hits those highs in his older years. Supporting Glenn on the tour were guitarist Soren Andersen, drummer Ash Sheehan and keyboardist Ed Roth. Soren belted out strong background vocals in addition to his tasty chops during his solos. The musicianship was tight. The foursome ended the set with the hits “Highway Star” and “Burn.”

The crew then cleared the stage and the huge Glenn Hughes banner hanging from the rafters. While doing so, they revealed 56 Marshall amplifier heads sitting atop twenty 4 x 12 Marshall speaker cabinets that spanned the entire width of the stage! The house lights went off, fog filled the stage and blasts of lightning-fast guitar riffs filled the venue. Bassist Emilio Martinez, drummer Kevin Klingenschmid and keyboardist/vocalist Nick Z Marino went to their stations in preparation of the sonic blasting that was about to be unleashed on the audience.

The stage lights came on and the maestro kicked things off with “Rising Force,” followed by “Top Down Foot Down” and “No Rest for the Wicked.” Yngwie has been unstoppable since he threw the guitar world on its ear in the early 80s. He is one of the few pioneers to blend classical orchestration and heavy metal, and he remains the Godfather of neo classical rock.

In between tossing the guitar around his neck, throwing out dozens of picks to his audience, teasing his hair and leaving his guitar strewn on stage for his tech to pick up, he was laying down some of the most intense solos imaginable. His band was right there with him every step of the way with Marino sharing lead vocal duties and trading keyboard runs with Yngwie’s guitar licks on several songs. Emilio Martinez contributed powerful background vocals, tight bass lines and a solid foundation with Kevin keeping the groove moving along with strong double bass chops.

About halfway through his electrifying set, Yngwie broke into “The Star-Spangled Banner” and brought what few people that were sitting down to their feet. His rendition of our national anthem is easily one of the best I’ve ever heard. A few songs later, in a nod to Glenn Hughes former band Deep Purple, the foursome belted out “Smoke on the Water” to sooth those that may have wished Glenn had played it in his set. The boys ended the set with his commercial crossover hit “You Don’t Remember, I’ll Never Forget.”

The band walked off stage momentarily. The guitar tech then brought a nylon string Ovation guitar on a Gracie stand and placed it up front. Yngwie walked back on with his white Strat and started tearing up the acoustic guitar. The rest of the band walked back onstage, and together they proceeded into the acoustical intro of “Black Star.” The show ended a few minutes before midnight, the latest I can remember a concert wrapping up. Both Glenn Hughes and Yngwie Malmsteen delivered memorable performances, and promised to see us again soon, which I definitely hope is the case, as these guys have not lost a drop of their musical genius.

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