Formed from the ashes of Terraplane (a not very successful Eighties band), Thunder emerged in 1989 and quickly became an overnight sensation – they were virtually the same band but with a different approach and attitude.
Their debut album “Back Street Symphony” went straight into the British top 30 album charts. Hit singles followed and then the band sealed victory by performing a blistering opening set at the Monsters of Rock festival, treating it as a lap of honor and stealing the show from the headliners.
From here on Thunder became something of a UK national treasure. But in 2009 Danny Bowes decided that the band were not getting any bigger and perhaps they were all getting a bit old for this rock & roll thing, so following a final tour and obligatory live album, Thunder were no more.
The trouble with retirement however is boredom, and after two years, in 2011, Thunder were enticed back into the game, initially on exclusive one off dates but then things just progressed from there.
The line-up has been stable now for nearly thirty years with only the bass player changing a few times, although the low notes have been safely in the hands of Chris Childs since 1996. There have been eleven studio albums from the group (two post retirement) plus countless live albums and compilations.
We now reach 2018 and Thunder are bigger and better than ever. No longer a support band playing moderate theatres, they now sell out huge arenas and headline festivals, including recently at the SSE Arena in Wembley, London.
This new live album was taken from one of the biggest concerts Thunder have ever done so far, performed at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff , Wales and played to a rabid full house where the Welsh fans cheered and sang along to every word.
This is not in any way a recording of a greatest hits tour; included in this set are six songs from latest album “Rip It Up” (2016) and four from “Wonder Days” (2015). The rest of the set is made up of classics stretching back to their debut album but they are not exactly a nostalgia band.
The new songs seem to blend in seamlessly with the old. I mean, of course they are Thunder songs so it would be disappointing if they didn’t. Laughably, Danny Bowes in between song banter has not changed in thirty years, but the crowd lap it up so why change it. On the other hand, lead guitarist Luke Morley’s playing just gets better and better and is now in the category of guitar hero. But Thunder are a team and it only all hangs together with all five on stage ‘firing on all six’.
Ben Matthews takes on the role of multi-instrumentalist and is also excellent at working the crowd in the live arena. Chris Childs is a worthy bass player while on drums is Harry James, who brings a lot of humor to the band as well as being one of the most in-demand session percussionists on the circuit.
Mercifully, the traditional final encore has been cut down to just under ten minutes where previously it would often clock in at over double that and Danny Bowes would spend half of that time playing with the crowd. Here you just get ten minutes of solid Thunder rock.
“Stage” is a fine addition to any music collection and in future will be considered one of the classic live albums – an unreserved 5 stars.
Danny Bowes – lead vocals
Luke Morley- guitar
Ben Matthews- guitar and keyboards
Chris Childs- bass guitar
Harry James – drums
No One Gets Out Alive
The Enemy Inside
River Of Pain
Right From The Start
In Another Life
The Thing I Want
Don’t Wait For Me
Rip It Up
Love Walked In
I Love You More Than Rock&Roll
Wonder Days. She likes Cocaine
Note: Written by Mott The Dog whilst sheltering from a storm at Jameson’s The Irish Pub, Soi AR, North Pattaya.