Just about a year after lockdown started in earnest, fans of Thunder were treated to a return to ‘live’ music with a pre-recorded online stream TV Special and the date has been in my diary since it was announced some weeks ago.
Friday 12th March saw the release of the new album ‘All The Right Noises’ so the timing ensured the weekend was just going to be one long Thunder-fest.
The band started with the opening track and blistering lead single off the new album ‘Last One Out Turn Off The Lights’ and they were immediately into their stride, following it closely with 2 further tracks from the new album, ‘Destruction’, which allowed Luke Morley his first solo of the night and ‘She’s a Millionairess’.
Regular member Ben Matthews was unwell and unavailable for the recording so Rob Harris stood in for him. Harris, who has played with the likes of Gary Numan, Mark Owen and is a member of Jamiroqui, was introduced by Danny Bowes as the man “who saved our bacon”.
The show was recorded on February 26th and members of the band’s fan club, Thunder Channel, were invited to take part in the recording by appearing on a fan wall via Zoom, which would be seen by the band on monitors in the studio. Bowes encouraged the fans to wave, clap and jump around and they duly obliged.
Next up was ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ and by now Thunder were well and truly rocking. Bowes’ voice seems to get better and stronger with age and with the added backing vocals of Julie Maguire and Carly Greene and the ever reliable rhythm section of Harry James & Chris Childs they rocked this old classic.
Despite a senior moment from Danny Bowes when he almost introduced the wrong song, they then swiftly moved into 3 more tracks from the new album with the rocky ‘Going to Sin City’ and ‘Don’t Forget to Live Before You Die’ before they slowed it down with the already critically acclaimed ballad ‘I’ll Be The One’. The first half was completed with a storming version of ‘Serpentine’ from the Wonder Days album.
In keeping with the TV Special format, the guys then took time out to answer questions from their fan club members via Zoom. We learnt amongst other things that Luke always chooses the gig set list and was once left in a sweetshop alone whilst being secretly filmed.
Chris’ favourite TV theme as a child was Thunderbirds and is a secret prog rocker, Harry remembers everyone’s birthday and that Danny has a secret admiration for Gilbert o’ Sullivan and the musical ability of Laurel & Hardy! It was great to see that not only are these guys music legends, but that they still retain that down to earth boyish humour as well.
The music started again with a superb gentle version of ‘A Better Man’ with the band still sat down and Luke Morley opening up with a harmonica before joining in on backing vocals. An acoustic version of another track from the new album, ‘The Smoking Gun’, followed complete with Harry James hitting a cobbler’s anvil with a hammer!
No Thunder gig would be complete without ‘Love Walked In’ and this was another faultless version of a track that I have heard dozens of times and never tire of, before we were bought bang up to date with the latest single from the new album, “You’re Gonna Be My Girl” which has a real Rod Stewart & The Faces vibe about it, but still sounds fresh and new.
We were then into ‘Young Man’ which was the final track from the album for tonight, before a barnstorming finish with fan (and Harry James) favourite ‘Dirty Love’.
Music lovers can’t wait for the return of live music, but if streaming shows are all we have at present, then nobody does it better than Thunder. After over 30 years together and even though they were missing Ben Matthews, this is a band that is still firing on all cylinders. The new album is a return to classic Thunder and hopefully the boys might consider another online show to keep us going until the live shows in 2022.
The new album ‘All The Right Noises’ was released on 12th March 2021
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Reviewed by Howard Whitelaw for MPM