Ladies and gentlemen, Danny Bowes and Luke Morley of Thunder. Two of my rock icons since I first fell down the heavy metal / hard rock rabbit hole all those years ago. It seems like yesterday that I bought Backstreet Symphony, on day one and tracks like She’s So Fine and Dirty Love still get regular appearances on my playlists and I still buy physical versions of their albums as the quality has still not dipped, 32 years since I first saw them support Aerosmith at the cavernous Birmingham NEC. Next it was Donington 1990, the first one that I was allowed to go to and these were the classic line-ups, no multiple stages, just five bands each one a goddamn solid gold rock party. Glorious.
Now here we are in a much smaller intimate venue. This is not a Spinal Tap style appeal becoming ‘more selective’ situation, there is a massive arena tour already pencilled in when this goddamn pandemic hopefully slings its slimy hook. But bands need to tour, they need the oxygen of the road and, from a more cynical point of view, there is a new book to promote, but let’s face it they could have done that with a Classic Rock interview and a few Youtube clips, this is the chance to get up close and personal with a selection of songs and stories from throughout their career, armed only with a pair of microphones and a single acoustic.
Danny Bowes is very funny, hell if you have ever read any interviews you will know that despite the foot on the monitor rock sounds he comes out with (one of the best voices of his generation, no doubt), he never takes himself or his occupation too seriously. It’s that ‘total englishness’ that documentaries like to talk of. The voice might evoke Robert Plant, but the attitude is Keith Moon, without the drugs, obvs. Luke Morley is his perfect foil, sometimes it feels as if they are telepathically pushing the show along, perfect chemistry, Morley does not say too much, often referring to the music side rather than slapstick stories, but tales of his encounters with Robert Palmer and Daryl Hall are worth the price of admission alone. Oh and I should warn you, you will never be able to look at W. Axl Rose the same way after this show and as someone who loves GNR and Thunder, this was definitely a laugh out loud moment. Of which there were many.
And, oh man, the songs. A show that OPENS with Backstreet Symphony? Yep, my lighter would have been aloft. If I smoked. And it was allowed indoors, but you get the point, even though this venue is more used to pantomimes and stand up comedy, the ‘band’ plays like we are the biggest audience in the world and Danny’s vocals are stunning throughout, filling the place with ice cold blues. A Better Man, Love Walked In and one of the new albums highlights The Smoking Gun are all brilliant and it is just a shame that we are all sat down, but hey, the band released an album called Please Remain Seated, so go figure. It does give you the opportunity to just close your eyes and listen to the fantastic sounds though, And of course, it needs to be seated as the songs and the stories are evenly spread out through the set. I just wanted to dance, that’s not a slur on the performance, the complete opposite and made me ready to see the band back on the big stage where no doubt I will be a lot further back than this second row treat.
With 13th album All The Right Noises all set for most rock fans top five as we come to the end of the year, this event was a great reminder of just how long they have been releasing relevant and inventive music, nodding to the classics no doubt, but also with its own personality which shines through with these two metal icons seemingly having the time of their lives. As were we.
Show Reviewed – Exeter Corn Exchange, 17.11.21