Thunder at York Barbican, UK – 5th February 2019

Posted by Bianca on Tuesday Feb 5, 2019 Under Blues, Rock

Review + Photography by John Hayhurst

Danny Bowes has a Thunderous voice but a less than 50% Rock’n’Roll performance, sat down for 100% of the time, it all fell a little short of the mark in York tonight. We came for Thunder but only witnessed some light drizzle.

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Why do they do it? Classic Rock bands doing introspective reworked acoustic hits, “let’s get back to our roots” tours. Seemingly they believe we are really interested in sitting down and watching a whole hour and a half of normally rocktastic belting tunes reworked into jazz/country former versions of themselves. It isn’t as if we don’t already know what great musicians they all are, but if I want to see Thunder then I want to feel the power of classic electric guitars, bluesy gravel laden vocals only ever bettered by Paul Rodgers, and at the end to have sore voice and hands from the singing and clapping that went on.

The stage is set with several chairs and they are really here to promote their ‘Please Remain Seated’ album released only in January. So, unless you had twigged all that beforehand and truly expected to just hear a run through of the double album you were left perplexed as only Danny Bowes and Luke Morley appeared on stage at the start to run through a crystal-clear acoustic version of ‘Love Walked In’.

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It was nice, but admittedly I would have rather heard one of my favourite Thunder songs with all the power of a full band, in the same way I had heard it at Sheffield Arena a few years ago. That night is still etched in my mind as a classic arena concert by a hard-working British Rock Band, who you felt had finally ‘made it’ to the arena circuit. Backed by radio station Planet Rock, where Danny Bowes is now a frequent presenter, that night in Sheffield we saw Luke Morley kick his legs and jump in the air and Bowes doing his usual sideways rock dance from side to side. Tonight, you were lucky if you could make out Morley, hidden away from the spotlight and Bowes seemed desperate to kick the chair out from under his legs, but had to “remain seated” as that was all part of this ‘event’. He admitted early on that they were all getting used to it, and that tonight would not be a normal Thunder show. Which begs the question “Whose idea was this?”, the record company? Was it way of extracting a bit more cash out of the hardcore Thunder fans, did they think it would be an easy ride doing a few weeks of low production shows across the UK to then get on the line up of several festivals (Ramblin’ Man and Steelhouse, being the main rumours)? They really did not look comfortable sat down.

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Ironically, the next song was ‘Stand Up’ and obviously nobody did! What followed was a deluge of great Thunder tunes reworked into some strange country strum-a-long arrangements and even a jazz bass solo which received a lot of cheers – who’d have thought!

This is all a far cry from the first time I saw Thunder, supporting Poison prior to their opening of ‘Monsters of Rock’ Festival at Castle Donington. That night in a sweaty Nottingham Rock City they blew the roof off and played significantly better than their American headliners. Yes, we’ve all lost hair, energy and added some weight since those hallowed years, but this is not the way to celebrate a milestone of one of Britain’s great Classic Rock bands of the last 30 years. If Mick Jagger can still strut up and down a runway for 90 minutes at over 70 yrs old, Thunder should still be playing their hearts out with vitality and fire, while they still have it. I’m not ready for the pipe and slippers yet, and this was a detour too far down the old folk’s alley for my liking.

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If you like your live music with a bit more energy, wait for the next Thunder album and tour, according to drummer Harry it’s going to be a ROCK album and not like this one. The sooner the better I say.

Setlist:
Love Walked In / Stand Up / Miracle Man / River Of Pain / Future Train / Blown Away / Girl’s Going Out Of Her Head / Higher Ground / Empty City / A Better Man / Fly On The Wall / Just Another Suicide / Bigger Than Both Of Us / Loser / Serpentine / ENCORE: Robert Johnson’s Tombstone / She’s So Fine / Resurrection Day / Low Life In High Places

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