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THUNDER Astoria, London 29 November 2003

Yet another early start at the Astoria (thanks to the club night starting at 10:30pm). Doors opened at 6pm and the support were on stage at 7pm. At least it means not too much time to worry about being able to afford a drink in the Astoria’s bars.

Support tonight is provided by ‘Schism’, having been drafted in to replace ‘Must’ at short notice for the last three shows of the tour. I suppose that gives them some excuse for being downright awful, but I don’t believe they could improve much anyway. ‘Busted’ with swearing (lots of swearing) would be the best way to describe them, and songs with such wonderfully edifying titles as “Christina Sucks and Britney Swallows” say all you need to know about this bunch.

So, onto Danny and his enthusiastic mob! The familiar strains of ACDC trail off having reminded us we are about to be struck by thunder (funny, I always thought you got struck by lightning), and the hometown crew launch straight in to ‘Loser’. This song, from the 2003 release ‘Shooting At The Sun’, is as good as anything Thunder have ever done, and is already a bona-fide live classic that makes a superb set opener. The packed theatre is literally bouncing from the off (suitably encouraged by Danny doing his aerobics on stage), and there must be some concern amongst the building’s insurers.

‘River Of Pain’ is the second of six tracks from the new CD tonight, but doesn’t quite have the same impact as the opener. This is not to say it’s a bad song, just that most people took a rest from the workout knowing what was to come later. ‘Englishman On Holiday’ is the first of some interesting choices from the back catalogue and proof that this wasn’t just the May tour re-run.

Squeezed in between 2 more new tracks, ‘Blown Away’ and the title track, and ready to catch out the folks propping up the building, was ‘Backstreet Symphony’. This naturally inspired the crowd to new heights (of jumping) and Danny to bigger grins. Somewhere amongst all this, Harry flung in a drum solo and further excited the throng with his typically reserved performance!

The truly epic ‘Empty City’, featuring solos galore, was followed by the interestingly named ‘Pimp And The Whore’. I wonder where the inspiration for this one came from? Then it’s full on party mode for the brilliant ‘Moth To The Flame’ and ‘Higher Ground’. The fact that the building is still intact after these is a real credit to the builders. I’ve not seen or heard the Astoria quite like this for some time. Danny slows it down and shows off his vocal prowess with ‘Low Life In High Places’ before the guys close with ‘Just Another Suicide’.

A brief wait before the final new track, ‘Somebody Get Me A Spin Doctor’ kicks off the encore. Still not sure about this track, it seems to be missing something but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Cover time arrives, with ‘Play That Funky Music’ that has been a Thunder crowd-pleaser for a long time and allows Danny to indulge in a bit more high impact exercise. Final cut is the sing-a-long ‘Dirty Love’ with lots of ‘nah, nah, naaahs’ and the traditional men vs. women, stalls vs. circle scream-off.

Once again, they do not perform their best known song (‘Love Walked In’), but this in no way detracts from another great live performance. Many bands could and should take note of the enthusiasm with which Thunder performs. Long may it continue!

Band:

Danny Bowes - Vocals Luke Morley - Lead & Acoustic guitars Ben Matthews - Lead & rhythm guitars, keyboards Chris Childs - Bass guitar Harry James - Drums

Setlist:

Loser - River Of Pain - Englishman On Holiday - Blown Away - Backstreet Symphony - Shooting At The Sun - Empty City - Pimp And The Whore - Moth To The Flame - Higher Ground - Low Life In High Places - Just Another Suicide

Encores:

Somebody Get Me A Spin Doctor - Play That Funky Music - Dirty Love

Review: Ian Pollard


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