Tax the heat were the first up on this all-British bill. The Bristol band have a very smart image with their suits – something you don’t see very often, with Joe Bonamassa being one of the few other acts to dress in a suit on stage. The band have a great Blues-rock sound that does a very good job of getting the crowd warmed up. A great start to the night.
Next up were rockers Reef. As most of their success was in the 90’s they pretty much passed me by, so I really didn’t know anything about them till tonight. Looking like an American Southern rock band (the singer and guitarist in particular due to their beards), they have a great rock sound, and went down fairly well with the crowd, but once they played their big hit “Place your hands” the crowd were soon singing along, and I certainly recognised the song as one I’d heard a lot even though I hadn’t realised they did it. It’s a very good set and Reef are a band well worth checking out.
Finally it was time for Thunder.It’s hard to believe that a band that has been around as long as Thunder and has had their success has taken so long to headline arenas, but that’s the case, with tonight being their second arena headlining date on this short tour. For these arena shows they’ve gone to a lot of effort to put on a show, so have a large video screen behind them on which they show a mix of video footage, crowd shots and shots of the band, although for large parts of the set it’s not used. Additionally a large screen to the side of the stage shows live footage of the band so fans at the back still get to see close-ups of the band rather than just tiny figures in the distance.
The lighting rig too is impressive – most of the time looking like any other but when Ben Matthews plays the keyboard intro to one of the songs, as the rest of the stage fades to darkness, the lighting rig lowers down over his head with lights illuminating him brightly – it looks liek a UFO hovering over his head ready to beam him up.
Moving from medium size venues up to arena’s can be too much for some bands who seem uncomfortable on the larger stage or with the less intimate setting, but Thunder have played enough festivals to take it in their stride and look totally at home, and of course with a frontman like Danny Bowes there was never any danger of them failing to get a great atmosphere going. Watching Danny is like a masterclass in how to front a band and to get the crowd going – he makes a difficult job look so easy and as a result the atmosphere tonight is fantastic.
The band kick off with the title track of the new album, “Wonder days” – the first of six songs from the new album to be played tonight. The new songs go down a storm, but it’s classics like “Backstreet symphony” and “Love walked in” that get the crowd singing along. Tonight’s show really does seem to fly past (always the sign of a great gig), and before long it’s the final song of the set – “I Love You More Than Rock ‘N’ Roll”. Happily though there’s an encore of three songs before the night finally comes to an end.
Thunder really are a fantastic live band – if you’ve never seem them before then go and see them next time they tour.
River of Pain
The Devil Made Me Do It
I’ll Be Waiting
The Thing I Want
When the Music Played
Love Walked In
I Love You More Than Rock ‘N’ Roll
Low Life In High Places