A week has passed since the enforced cancellation of a high-profile series of farewell concerts from one of the world's biggest stars, but scheduled for around the same time (and with a lot less hype) was this farewell tour from Thunder, one of Britain's best-loved rock bands. Fortunately all five guys were present and correct to be able to play this tour, and the Manchester Academy was packed out on this very hot summer night. Thunder announced they were to call it a day (for the second, and presumably now, final time) at around the start of the year, causing much disappointment to their loyal band of followers. After my own initial disappointment at the news, I dealt with it by regarding everything they did since 2002 (when they came back from an earlier split) as a bonus, and figuring that after 20 years as a band, they really do not owe us any more. So it was with calm acceptance that I booked tickets for this tour, and given that my own circumstances have changed substantially since then also, I can sort of understand where the band are coming from.
The audience in the Academy were out to have themselves a great time, the atmosphere was charged from first minute to last and when the band emerged (led by bassist Chris Childs) the newly-refurbished venue was in danger of needing another new roof. The set was substantially different to their previous visit only last Autumn, this time they rolled out many of their best-loved songs from across their back catalogue, rather than pushing the 'Bang!' album as they did last year. Surprisingly, it took until relatively late in the set before we got anything from their legendary first album; the fact that this did not affect their reception one jot shows the strength of the band's material. They could play for about four hours and still leave out somebody's favourite song, they have so many good ones. Once again it was singer Danny Bowes who conducted matters supremely well, he could come on and recite the telephone directory and still be cheered to the rafters! He sang well, as always, but to me not quite at the level he was last year, when he was in spine-tingling form. This time he was at around 80% but even at this level he is still a cut above many other rock singers. He will be a massive loss to the scene. The set seemed to be chosen with a party in mind, there was little respite in the form of ballads and instead it was mostly uptempo stuff delivered. My only real quibble was the out-front sound, I was dead centre about 30 metres off the front in a prime position, but even I found it LOUD in this fairly large hall. At times the sound simply bludgeoned the ears, it could have done with being a little less intense I thought, and I'm not having that I'm getting too old for all this (!) - it really was a bit heavy. The sound out front was almost matched by the audience noise however, they were really up for this and even Danny Bowes was forced to concede it was louder than Glasgow the night before!
Support came from the increasingly-popular Scottish band Logan; the venue was filling nicely as they played, and it was gratifying to see them get a good reception from Thunder's infamously partisan crowd. Vocalist Kenny Collins managed to squeeze in a slagging for Kerrang! magazine, winning some loud cheers (including one from your correspondent) - but it was their playing and especially the vocalist's performance, which won over the crowd. The guys are going places, whatever Kerrang! might think!
Good though Logan were, tonight was all about Thunder. Despite the sheer volume, this was a triumphant night, and definitely they are going out with the BANG! suggested by their last album. The rock scene will be the poorer for their demise, but they have given us a whole lot of studio and live material to enjoy in years to come.
On The Radio
Low Life in High Places
Somebody Get Me A Spin Doctor
The Devil Made Me Do It
Love Worth Dying for
River Of Pain
Just Another Suicide (You Wanna Know)
Love Walked In
I Love You More Than Rock 'n' Roll
A Better Man
An Englishman on Holiday