800 lucky attendees inside the Brooklyn Bowl – a relatively new music venue, restaurant and entertainment complex housed within the O2 Arena – are all winners of a Classic Rock competition, and this evening’s show is being recorded for an exclusive live CD to accompany the February 2015 edition of the magazine. Even better still, no money has changed hands for the opportunity to be present at a little bit of musical history – admission is completely free.
The show is a part of the build-up towards Thunder’s first new studio album in six years. Due early next year, it coincides with a three-date UK tour that kicks off at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on March 12. A sole drawback is the continued absence of Ben Matthews, who two days earlier was given the all-clear following his recent cancer treatment. The band are quietly optimistic that the guitarist/keyboard player will be healthy enough for the upcoming UK dates, but in the meantime Peter Shoulder, frontman of guitarist Luke Morley’s ‘other’ band The Union, does an able job of deputising.
The 90-minute show’s bed-rock is provided by various old favourites (Back Street Symphony, Low Life In High Places, The Devil Made Me Do It, Stand Up, Love Walked In, Dirty Love and Just Another Suicide), but four tracks from the new album are premiered, alongside a clutch of particularly well-chosen covers./o:p
Though unfamiliar at first, The Thing I Want, the first newie of the night, is a typical slice of anthemic Thunder bravado and before too long the audience are singing along with the chorus./o:p
Next up is your correspondent’s favourite from the record (yes, Classic Rock were treated to an exclusive playback a few months ago. Believe us, it’s great!). Black Water is something slightly different for the band but nothing to be alarmed about. Wonder Days, featuring Morley on keyboards, is melodic, anthemic and plain irresistible, while the excellent Resurrection Day also receives an enthusiastic thumbs up./o:p
Danny Bowes’ bluesy voice is uncannily suited to Be Good To Yourself, an Andy Fraser-penned tune that became a Top 40 hit for Frankie Miller in 1977, though it’s less easy to take him seriously as he sings “I’ll kick your face/You’ll soon be seeing double” during The Rocker by Thin Lizzy. A never-played-before encore of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Up Around The Bend (also reworked by Hanoi Rocks, of course) sets the seal on a triumphant night./o:p
Roll on the new year.