After going to see THUNDER live for almost three decades I have a first in having take a seat. To find out how I and Danny got on not shaking our booty read on.
Support for the tour but with a very short set was Dan Reed. This was an excellent choice as he brought just himself and a trusty acoustic guitar. This venue is huge, the stage is massive and with just one man to sing and play to the thousands here it could have been daunting but Dan filled this venue with his beautiful voice with ease.
As he set up he looked out to the crowd and asked if Tom Russell was in the house yet. This alone got a cheer. Not many outside Scotland will know that name…or his moniker “The beard of doom” but for me and many others Tom is just as much a part of the rock scene and our past and as the many bands we have seen. Tom has been with me since I was a teenager and I listened in to his Friday Rock show on Radio Clyde straight after Tommy Vance had finished, yes, this man is a legend up here.
After finding out Tom was there he went on to thank him for being a friend and introducing him to Rabbie Burns with a book he gave Dan. As a tribute he opened with “My Love is Like a Red Rose”. What a way to win over an audience.
He followed up with “Only Love” which was dictated to a couple whose anniversary it was. Again this was a lovely touch and as his voice surrounded the venue you could not help but smile. Shortly after the song that many were expecting in “Rainbow Child” was rolled out and after all these years it holds up brilliantly. Just hearing this with acoustic and vocals gave it a whole new breath of fresh air.
Then came the real surprise of tonight as Dan covered “Holy Diver” and as much as I was taken aback at the choice I loved this. The whole crowd were singing their lungs out. I would advise you to search this out on Youtube as it was stunning.
He finished off with “Get to you” and “All My Loving” and for someone who was never a DRN fan tonight changed my perspective. His playing was sublime and his voice held up wonderfully.
It was strange being at a Thunder concert and having to go to a seat but wth the new album titled “Please Remain Seated” I suppose I had no choice(we will see about that). The new album has definitely split the fanbase down the middle. I for one enjoyed the album but having seen Thunder play acoustically many times(and usually the band were very hungover…Tower records, Glasgow) I loved it. I have always jumped at the chance to see and hear songs that I love stripped down and arrangements altered. I may not have enjoyed every track on the album but I am just happy that Thunder are back with us and changing things up.
I suspect many of the naysayers would have rather seen the band come back and just play the classics with no need for new material but Thunder decided if they came back it was on their terms and for that they have to be applauded.
As if to shut up the negative voices the band open with “Love Walked In” with just Luke and Danny on the stage. This was not on the album but with such a beautiful song who could not love this rendition?
Ironically “Stand Up” was next up and as Danny pointed out it was a bit stupid to ask everyone to remain seated and then sing that.
“Future Train” was the first song from the album and had a radically different sound and with the bongos, Spanish guitar and piano this was immense. This hall was built with acoustics in mind and every penny of the ticket price was worth it as it reverberated around the auditorium.
“Girl’s Going out of Her Head” was the first track that I was not sure of on the album, it just went a bit too jazzy for me but is still sounded terrific and from one extreme to another as we slip into “Empty City”. This was just magical, Danny’s voice was incredible and I swear he could sing the phone book. He is undoubtably one of the UKs unsung heroes and he has been a leading singer for decades.
Just to prove my point we get “Better Man” and can anyone write a song like this better than Luke Morley? Time after time he wrote deep and beautiful love songs and that, Danny’s voice and with the band’s sense of fun it was the reason I followed them all over the UK. They were the band I could not believe never broke it massively so I am more than happy to see this venue sold out and finally the band are getting the attention they deserved the first time around.
The encore consists of four songs and the surprise here is “Robert Johnston’s Tombstone” and that heavy blues sound that Thunder do so well. It was followed quickly by “ She’s So Fine” with its album rendition much slower and a little swankier.
“Resurrection Day” was dedicated to Ben Matthews and his battle with cancer but the best was saved till last with “Low Life in High Places”. With a smokey jazz/blues room feel it was perfection. The crowd sang every note and as hard as it seems we did seem to drown Danny out at times. By this time I had given up sitting. I was at the back and in full voice, just like the choir who were behind the white curtain.
Well, Danny managed to make the full show stuck to that seat and how he managed it I have no idea, he was as twitchy as Tourettes sufferer without medication. This was an outstanding show and prior to it I was a bit apprehensive but (he takes a deep breath) this was the second best show I have seen the boys do. Nothing will ever top Monsters of Rock 1990 but this was a very close runner up. To think that Thunder can still perform to such high standards after all these years just goes to prove they were right in coming back and I pray it continues for many more years to come.
Images and words Ritchie Birnie