Review & photography Ritchie Birnie
There will be no wishy, washy, sitting on the fence, constructive criticism here so if you are looking for one of Britain’s best classic rock bands to be slagged off go elsewhere.
Thunder is MY band( I honestly feel that). I have been with them way back to the Terraplane days. I can even remember them playing a rather crappy kids Saturday TV show back in the very distant past. I reckon there weren’t too many fans( just a bit poppy?) but this was where Thunder came from. The foundation that was set in a real bromance of Danny, Harry and Luke. I was there for their first small gig in Glasgow and backstage after( very drunk and sitting alongside the band signing autographs….don’t ask…..a long story).
From there Myself and a group of friends( Shout out to Davey, Kev and Waggy) made it a mission to follow them the length and breadth of the country. Seeing them in all venues. A lot of the time going to festivals just to see them( walked out on headliners many a time). Thunder became our guaranteed guys get away every year and they were always fun filled and usually encompassed some strange goings on( no names, no pack drill). We were fully fledged members of the Thunder Chanel which meant we would always see them at a meet and greet after every gig( see montage below). My mates would queue in line and I would make for the beer/wine table which the always provided( so guys you didn’t help with us keeping on the straight and narrow).
This continued for many, many a year until that dreaded day in 1999 when it was announced they were to retire. After almost a decade it was over and a little piece of me and my youth died. Sure, they had some festival appearances( I managed to catch them at Sonisphere in 2012 and introduced my 13 year old son to his 1st thunder performance) but the tours were gone, the guys trips finished and a gaping hole in my and many more peoples lives the only thing that was left. But before the tears start lets get happy……..the guys are back.
We saw some interesting stuff with Luke and Danny and The Union brought out a couple of good CDs but sometimes the sum of the parts are not better than the Whole. There was and is something very special about this band. The fact that you have one( if not the) best British live vocalist, Teamed with an outstanding song writer and guitarist with a completely tight rhythm section and solid and rocking 2nd guitarist. Tie this with a band with so much stage presence( large or small) and the fact that these guys love what they do and give 100% every show it moves onto the question that has been asked as long as the band have been going (and I was still discussing this with people after the show tonight)………WHY WERE/ARE THUNDER NOT HUGE?
I don’t know. It baffles me. We have had the silly things like it’s the bands name but that doesn’t cut it. I have never seen the guys give a bad performance( in fact the last time I saw the band do an acoustic set it was in Glasgow at the long defunct Tower records. They were hung-over beyond belief and still played a blinder). All the ingredients were there and no one can say the talent wasn’t. Maybe it was timing. Possibly. If they had been out in the 70s I bet they would be household names. Whatever the reason I hope now is their time. We are seeing a lot of bands now who hark band to rock’s earlier years and they are starting to break so maybe, just maybe.
Just before I go onto the review I can confirm the humbleness of the band. When I asked them why was the time right now to make a comeback. The response was due to the support they received from everyone on the back of their support on the Def Leppard tour in 2013. They said they were taken aback at how positive everyone was, that they were worried no one would be interested anymore. I said we never went away, we were always here and the response was we just didn’t know and cannot take anything for granted……and the best news yet……When asked if they were back for good….yes they are. As long as the support is there. So it is down to us people.
So tonight is an intimate ( very intimate) acoustic promo show for the new( and absolutely fantastic) album Wonder years( Buy it, download it, steal it…..no, that is illegal). Thunder’s first in 6 years. It was a free gig with the guest list made up from fans via the website/facebook page. The guys strolled in the door fresh from a signing session at HMV, threw their jackets off and climbed onto some stools and started.
The guitar starts and we go into the riff that kicked it all off. Backstreet Symphony. This was the 1st song I heard from the band and to this day it is still a classic, whether acoustic or full rocked up version. The crowd sing every word, the belief is there. Thunder are back and we are loving it. After some of Danny’s usual banter we go into a new song. Black water.
Classic thunder. Lazy guitars to start. Solid bass and drums and oh that voice. A great chorus as Luke always manages to pull off. It has an upbeat Bad Company feel. Could be a solid inclusion in future setlists. After being surprised we know most of the words already they go into another new song. Broken is one of Thunder’s slower, love based songs. It gives a free reign to Danny’s vocals and touches on a different view on break ups. The fact that one was not ready for the end and the pain that it brings (I have a feeling Luke has had some issues in this area ha ha).
Now back to what we all know and love. Harking back to one of the most underrated albums, Behind closed doors. River of Pain chugs to life. More lazy assed riffs and a chorus that gets everyone screaming at the top of their lungs. We can feel every emotion Luke put into this song. It also has a beast of a solo which lets Luke rip on the frets. We also get a good old sing along where we are punished by Danny for being a bit too cheeky. We get back to the new album( have I said how good it is?) and resurrection day. I reckon this could be slotted into any of Thunder’s albums. In fact when everyone is singing along you could be mistaken it is not an oldie. Another solid song.
Having seen the setlist prior I know we only have two songs left( yes the tears are welling up). But its Low life in high places next. For me this is a top 5 Thunder song. A slow burner that gives us Danny’s best work and Luke’s best lyrics. This songs story more relevant now than when it was written. The sad world we live in where rich get richer and the poor and unfortunate are bemoaned and cast down. Thank you for this song Luke and its message. I just wish more people would heed it and make a stand……and talking of stand the last song of the evening is Stand up. Another classic from behind closed doors. The crowd is in full voice again( and as of yesterday Thunder confirmed that the Glasgow crowd won the best audience of the acoustic tour). A tongue in cheek song with a message.
And it’s all over. It passed by in the blink of an eye but its another memory in the Thunder bank. As always the guys come out into the crowd and mingle. Signing anything and everything. Giving out plectrums and stories, another reason this is one of the best bands out there. Thank you guys for a brilliant evening. It is so good to see you back and having fun, So good to see Ben fit and healthy and most of all thank you for getting together again. Long may it continue.
And here is my message to you, the masses. If you used to like Thunder and this review has whetted your appetite get out and buy the new album( which hit number 9 in the UK album charts in its 1st week). If you never really checked out Thunder do it now and most of all if you have never seen this band live watch out for the full upcoming UK tour later this year and go see them. I can promise if you go it will not be your last. OK, bias, thunder loving mode switched off( well not really, it doesn’t go away) and back to normality with a cheeky grin and a glint in my eye…….life just got that little bit better.