Tuesday 28th March 2017
Hammersmith Apollo, London
Thunder are one of those bands that have been far less commercially successful than they should have been. Which only goes to show that there is no justice in this world. From their early beginning in 1989, Thunder rose out of the ashes of Terraplane with their hugely successful debut album 'Back Street Symphony' which earned them a slot on the 1990 Monsters of Rock festival at Donnington. But whilst following albums were successful, the band never got the mainstream attention that they deserved. Which is a shame because they are a class act. However, Thunder did build a loyal fanbase through constant album releases and touring which remain as steadfast and devoted today as any band could wish for. But through the years the mighty Thunder have announced more than once that their current tour would be their last. Thankfully they kept coming back for more.
Having seen the mighty Thunder many times before, the audience knew exactly what they were going to get and, as usual, they weren't disappointed. Going to see Thunder, no matter what the venue, feels like going to see your mates band playing in a local pub. It's a true party atmosphere. The audience all seem to know each other and, more importantly, lead man Danny Bowes interacts with the audience like they are old friends. Gone is the long hair and ripped jeans of yesteryear to be replaced with greying short hair. But Danny is as vibrant and active as ever. Less Daddy dancing and more Danny dancing, he skitters around the stage with all the exuberance and fun of a teenager. Makes everyone else feel young too.
The five bandmates were all dressed in black against a simple but highly effective lighting display. The usually excellent sound at the Eventim Apollo (or the 'Ammy Odeon' as we all really know it) was very muddy which is a shame as the boys are a great sounding band. Thunder is a singers band - Danny's voice is still as strong as it ever was even after nearly 30 years with many of their anthems being terrific singalong songs. Even the writer is known to warble a few bars within the privacy of his own car (thankfully for others a solo experience). As part of the crowd, every voice is lifted in joyous rapture conducted by the ebullient Mr Bowes. But that would also be doing a disservice to the rest of the band. Lefty lead guitarist Luke Morley has always been a favourite with some awesome traditional British Rock solo's and great rock riffs. Thor isn't the god of Thunder, Luke is. But where was his trusty Les Paul? Has anyone seen it? Rhythm guitarist and keyboard player Ben Matthews thankfully played his beautiful black Les Paul so my guitar porn fix was satisfied there. Chris Childs provided the bass line with the charismatic Harry James (Arry, Arry, Arry…) sitting behind the tubs.
The set opened with the opening track of their new album 'Rip It Up' followed by 'The Enemy Inside' from this excellent album. It's one to add to your collection. This sets the scene for the rest of the night with the audience clapping, singing, screaming, jumping up and down as required. Or all of the above at the same time. Then into the 'Classic River of Pain' with the singalong reaching new levels. More beer for my vocal chords please. And earplugs for anyone in earshot of me. Is Luke playing a Strat? 'Resurrection Day' from their 2015 album 'Wonder Days' was well received which shows that they aren't just about their classics although 'Backstreet Symphony' gets a huge cheer as you would expect for the song that made Thunder the beloved band of us devotees. Luke, is that a Flying V? Still no Les Paul. Sigh.
Hit after hit followed with Danny's voice lighting up the dark whilst Luke electrified all - back on the Strat again. Every song has Danny leading the crowd in clapping, or waving or shouting. This is real interactive stuff folks - kids, put down those X-Boxes and come and see some real action. 'Don't Wait For Me' is another of those songs that should carry a Tonsil Health Warning for those attempting to emulate Mr Bowes. What a voice. Luke playing acoustic guitar on 'Love Walked In'. And then the set was brought to a close with the cow bell heralded 'I Love You More Than Rock And Roll'. Every Rock band needs a cow bell.
After a brief interlude the boys reappeared for a three track encore, but this time with the colourfully attired Lynn Jackaman who dueted with Danny on 'She Likes Cocaine'. A great song, it's another reason to pick up the new album. I could have watched that played all night. Closing with the anthemic 'Dirty Love' (what else?) the band sealed a fantastic night at their 'home venue' with photo's and a live Facebook feed. Not something these Monsters of Rock could have imagined all those years ago. And Luke played his Les Paul finally. Crisis over, I can sleep well now. Great songs, great times, I would never miss the opportunity to see them. Come back soon boys, I need another farewell Thunder tour t-shirt to add to the collection…
No One Gets Out Alive
The Enemy Inside
River of Pain
Right From the Start
In Another Life
The Thing I Want
Don't Wait for Me
Rip It Up
Love Walked In
I Love You More Than Rock 'N' Roll
She Likes the Cocaine
Mother (Photos courtesy of Nicola Jane Reading)