Reviewed by Paul Quinton
Although there’s a brand new ‘Best Of…’ collection in the shops, Thunder as a whole haven’t played any shows around the country in support of it, but Danny Bowes and Luke Morley have scheduled a series of dates in small to medium sized theatres, billed as ‘Unscripted and Unplugged’. Having said that, if you didn’t know it was just going to be Danny and Luke, you might be forgiven for thinking the whole band were going to appear when you walked into the hall, as the stage was pretty well stocked with the Thunder brand, with displays of the ‘Best of’ album, and a screen across the back with the Thunder logo. There were also some easy chairs and two vertical banners forbidding photographs and filming the proceedings. A different look to most shows.
We also had a host for the evening, respected rock writer Mick Wall, although he did give us a bit of a hackneyed introduction, asking ‘Are you ready’ and if there were any Thunder fans in, but his main job was in asking the questions and prompting Danny and Luke into a hugely entertaining evening of music and stories. The opening segment covered the band’s early history, including the days in Terraplane, one of those ‘should have made it’ bands, then onto forming Thunder, having their first album produced by Andy Taylor and the band’s debut appearance at the old Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donnington, broadcast live on Radio 1 (Those were the days!) It’s difficult to go into detail about the spoken part of the evening without dropping some fairly large spoilers, but there was some genuinely priceless stuff, including Danny’s impression of David Coverdale, a discussion on Axl Rose’s hands (Axl was a big fan of the band in the early days, apparently), and a tale or two about Harry James that genuinely brought the house down.
Breaking up the chat were some songs, just Danny’s vocals and Luke’s acoustic guitar. The opener was, as might be expected, ‘Back Street Symphony’, although Danny claimed he didn’t know what song was going to be played at any point during the show until Luke played the opening chords. In the opening half of the show, they also played ‘Low Life In High Places’, in which, despite being seated, Danny still couldn’t help encouraging the usual audience participation, ‘River of Pain’ and ‘A Better Man’.
After a brief break, the second half opened with a lot of the audience still filing back in, but it didn’t take long for everyone to take up where the first half left off, although the talk in the second half covered a couple of more serious topics, including how the band originally broke up, reformed, and broke up again, including another almost throwaway line, inevitable about Harry, that again had the crowd in fits, the possibility of a Bowes solo album, and the plans for a new Thunder album, which we are promised will be a ‘real rock’n’roll’ album, which sounds good. The music included ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ and ‘Like A Satellite’, before Mick Wall read out some questions submitted by the audience, including one Luke told that Danny was apparently aghast at being made public. Suffice to say, if you get the chance, ask him about shopping for swimming gear in New York.
‘Serpentine’ closed the main show, although they did come back for an encore, asking for requests, of which clearly the favourite was ‘Love Walked In’. Allowing for the short break, the chaps had been on stage for nearly two hours, and I really don’t think a single member of a sold out Garrick didn’t feel thoroughly entertained, and that they hadn’t had a great evening. There are more dates on the tour, and if you’re a Thunder fan, or even if you enjoy tales from the rock and roll road, this is a cracking evening out.