With a different opening band for each night of the tour, we’re in for a treat with Massive Wagons tonight. You know when these guys are playing that it will be a fun-filled set. Frontman Barry ‘Baz’ Mills has bundles of energy and is forever running around the stage or jumping all over the place. When he does stand somewhat still it’s to headbang or address the crowd. When he does speak to the crowd, he’s personable and completely honest just adding to the charm that this band has. Halfway through he apologises to the crowd that his voice is not at its best but adds that he doesn’t think that matters as we’re not here to see them and his job is to warm the crowd up. However, I think he could well be wrong about that as there are hardly any empty seats in the arena for their set. Massive Wagons Are well known for the incredible energetic performances they put on and tonight is no exception.
With the room now well and truly warmed up for the show it’s time for Ugly Kid Joe to take over. This is my first time seeing these guys and to say I’m looking forward to seeing them is a bit of an understatement. Kicking things off with “Neighbour” the crowd is straight into singing along. It’s not long before Whitfield Crane has the room clapping along and promising to have every single person on their feet before the set is through. The band as a whole may be less energetic than the last however Crane absolutely knows how to keep his audience captive. From the clapping to the cheering to the arm-waving, he keeps the crowd engaged and part of the show. On top of this, he also gets a massive singalong for a cover of “Cats in the Cradle”. The whole band put on an incredible show despite what looked to be some technical difficulties with the drums. Each member of the band also took their moment in the spotlight too as Crane showcased their talents which included some interesting call and response of guitar riffs! Fulfilling promises for the last song the whole arena gets on their feet for a final sing along with the song we’ve all been waiting for – “Everything About You”. I was expecting great things for this set and it’s fair to say they were met and more as Ugly Kid Joe puts on one hell of a show.
With the lights dimming one last time, the crowd cheers and claps for Thunderto take to the stage. The sound system plays “Thunderstruck” before Danny Bowes and the rest of the band take their places and begin playing “Last One Out Turn Off The Lights”. Bowes has incredible stage presence from the moment the spotlight hits him and never seems to falter. Before playing “Higher Ground”, he takes a moment to make sure the crowd are with him doing some simple call and response. From the noise in the arena its clear that everyone is focused and ready to fully engage with the band and show. Every time the singing is turned back to the crowd, they really project and each word can be heard clear as day. Focusing back on the stage, it’s clearly been put together to create an epic show. The backing screens perfectly complement each song while never fully distracting from the band and the lights help to create a great party atmosphere. As the set continues with hits such as “Resurrection Day” and “The Devil Made Me Do It”, both the band and the crowd seem to be having the best night. While the band has a fantastic back-catalogue of songs, they also have a recently new album, ‘Dopamine’. This means the set is layered with some of these new tracks mixed in such as “One Day We’ll Be Free” and “Unraveling” which are all treated with a warm reception from the crowd. Throughout all of this, Bowes keeps the crowd engaged getting them to sing along and even jokingly criticising them during “Low Life In High Places” for not doing a good enough job and making them sing some more. A Thunder show wouldn’t be complete however if “Love Walked In” and “Backstreet Symphony” wasn’t played live. Luckily the band seem to be very aware of the hits that their fans want to hear. After “Backstreet Symphony ” it would appear as though the night is over however the band have got a few more songs left to satisfy the crowd’s cravings for more. Playing a couple more new tracks with “Last Order” and “Dancing In The Sunshine” the crowd keeps going. There’s only one other song which would be perfect to end the night with a bang and that has to be “Dirty Love”. Ending on such a big song, the fans here tonight can go home happy after seeing Thunder do what they do best.
Having seen these guys play a few years back, I can know clearly remember why this band sticks in your head as such a fantastic live band who never disappoint. Thunder has perfected the formula for putting together a night that you won’t forget in their live show and it’s one you definitely don’t want to miss.
Icons of British hard rock, Thunder, today released their brand new album, ‘Dopamine’, out on BMG.
‘Dopamine’ is Thunder’s first ever double-album, and consists of 16 tracks – something that is resonant with the album’s themes.
Guitarist, songwriter and Thunder co-founder Luke Morley says: “’We didn’t set out to make a double album but as the writing and recording process went on we wandered into some interesting areas and then it became a case of ‘can we afford to leave any of this off?’ In the end we did reduce it from 20 tunes to 16 but it wasn’t an easy choice.”
Satirical and urgent but never downcast, ‘Dopamine’ was inspired by the world’s mass retreat to social media during the pandemic lockdowns, endlessly hunting for the next hit of happy hormones.
“I read a fascinating article by an American psychologist,” says Luke, “who said that social media forces us to become dopamine addicts. We’re validated and liked on social media, which releases the dopamine – and so we get addicted to it. We take more and more selfies in the hope of more and more validation, and the album cover reflects this. People are surrounded by amazing things that they’re missing because they’re so self-obsessed. Of course, you’ll have to get your hands on the physical album to see all of the amazing things
The new album comes at the perfect time for Thunder, whose line-up for the last quarter-century and more has been Luke and Danny Bowes (singer), plus Ben Matthews (guitar and keyboards), Chris Childs (bass) and Harry James (drums).
They’ve been riding a wave of success since their 2015 comeback album Wonder Days, releasing the acclaimed All The Right Noises last year, with Classic Rock speculating that it could be the band’s best album yet.. The record went Top 3 in the UK Albums Chart; a quite incredible feat for a British hard rock band into their 4th decade.
And make no mistake – the last 30 years have been a rollercoaster ride. Thunder had a start in life like few other bands, delivering a killer debut LP with 1990’s Backstreet Symphony and scoring a US record deal with the help of a keen fan, Axl Rose of Guns N’Roses. Songs like ‘Dirty Love’ and ‘Low Life In High Places’ – according to the late radio legend Tommy Vance, “the greatest ever single released by a rock band” – have gone on to enter the British rock canon.
Despite these early triumphs, rewarded with gold awards and one of the most enduring fanbases on the planet, changes in musical fashions and two breakups made Thunder’s progress a rocky road indeed.
All that changed with the current sequence of albums that kicked off seven years ago with Wonder Days. Too vital to be simply labelled veterans, too varied in style to be just another classic rock band.
Thunder are at the very peak of their considerable form, still offering fans doses of ‘Dopamine’ after all these years.
The album is available in CD and double LP vinyl, with exclusive lenticular cover versions available only from the Thunder online store.
Thunder will also embark upon a UK arena tour next month 2022, including a date at London’s OVO Arena Wembley.
Saturday 21st May Glasgow SEC Armadillo
Sunday 22nd May Leeds First Direct Arena
Thursday 26th May Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
Friday 27th May Birmingham Resorts World Arena
Saturday 28th May London OVO Arena Wembley