Thunder rip it up at the Eventim (Hammersmith) Apollo on March 28th 2017.
Today, I made sure I stretched my hamstrings and rested a lot. Thunder are in town and, as I had witnessed previously at last year’s Ramblin’ Man, they’ll be giving us a bit of a work out.
Even though the band are now mostly in their 50s, they’re well known for putting on a great live show. Frontman Danny Bowes is like a rock ‘n’ roll Michael Cane who bounces around the stage like a 10 year old boy during a round of musical statues. And just Thunder’s music alone makes it irresistible to move around or punch the air and tonight is no exception. With more stamina than a Nokia 3310 battery, Danny dances, pelts the lyrics out and commands the stage without once forgetting that his audience are there.
But Thunder are more than just a great show. Their latest album Rip It Up climbed to number three in the UK Charts, proving that they hadn’t lost their song writing magic from the early ’90s. It seems like a long time since the days of their debut Backstreet Symphony– even without acknowledging the silver shades of their locks. Eleven albums later, their sound has evolved from the signature ’70s sound they began with and people seem to like it. Thunder are indeed “ripping it up” and doing it with such a velocity that it could give you friction burns.
They are joined tonight by Cats In Space- a modern 70’s style band who promptly warm up the crowd with electronic keyboard riffs and power pop quips. They comfortably fly through their set while the crowd observes moderately – and just as well because we need to save our energy.
Promptly the curtain drops and Thunder thrust their way into “No One Gets Out Alive”. Just as imagined, Rip It Up is built to be played live and feels powerful as the sound echoes around the old Apollo walls. Already, the energy of Danny Bowes is infectious.
But this is not to say that the others members aren’t pulling their weight. Luke Morley swings his guitar around sporadically- even more so during “The Enemy Inside”. Ben Matthews and Chris Childs follow suit by forming masculine poses as the lights drop at the end of every song. Well timed beams, strobes and bright colours are just more examples of what makes their set so atmospheric.
They roll on with a few tracks from previous albums Wonder Days and Behind Closed Doors, blending them in with the new. The solos from Ben and Luke are mesmerizing, especially when they flick their way through “Backstreet Symphony”. Harry James loyally provides the beat from behind his sunglasses, then carefully thuds into “Higher Ground”.
They sound just as good and as well performed as they did 20 years ago. Danny can still hits the high notes and hold the audience in the palm of his hand. When the opening twangs of “Love Walked In” begin, it’s clear how well they’ve perfected their performance. The long pauses in between climaxes and the way they interact with the crowd has something that most live shows are missing- fun. The crowd roars, loving every second of it and it’s no surprise because we feel involved.
The band themselves look like they’re enjoying it too as they dance along to “I Love You More Than Rock ‘n’ Roll”. Danny grabs at his own body and shakes his vulpine-like figure while the rest play in unison. These guys are not planning on slowing down anytime soon.
As they slink into “She Likes The Cocaine”, they introduce a gorgeous vision in green to the stage – Lynne Jackaman. Although just a backing vocal on the Rip It Up track, tonight she overpowers Danny with a rollercoaster of pitch. Although it makes the whole song a little more special having a guest, and even though Lynne is an impressive vocalist, she over sang it quite a bit.
They end on the high note of the classic and catchy “Dirty Love”. Danny pulls his best Black Lace impression and uses everything in his crowd participation arsenal for the last song. Thunder gave it their all tonight and made sure that everyone is having a good time and that’s important. They put every last bit of their strength to entertain us and they do so without even breaking a sweat.