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Thunder: Please Remain Seated, Symphony Hall, Birmingham - review

By Ian Harvey | Music | Published:

Roadworks, building sites, scaffolding and even diversions for pedestrians. Getting into Birmingham city centre can be something of a challenge at the moment - and that's putting it politely.

Thunder. Pictures by: Ian Harvey

It was surely just coincidence though that Thunder's stage set at Birmingham's Symphony Hall last night - all scaffolds and white sheeting - looked like nothing more than another building site.

What has been a challenge for some fans, it must be admitted, is Thunder's latest album and tour. The clue is in the name.

Please Remain Seated is a collection of Thunder rock classics re-imagined and re-engineered into a more polite, acoustic-led, unplugged-ish collection, made for toes to be tapped along with, not for head banging to.

Fans are divided - with some embracing the new, temporary, direction; and others howling that already perfect rock nuggets shouldn't be tampered with.

Thunder. Pictures by: Ian Harvey

What became clear last night however, was that the fans at a packed Symphony Hall were more than ready to accept and applaud a change to the Thunder menu that was akin to a fusion meal, the songs spiced up with new flavours of blues, country, gospel and jazz stirred into their DNA.

Singer Danny Bowes, possessor of one of the finest British rock voices of all time, and chief songwriter Luke Morley on an acoustic 12 string, took to the stage alone for Love Walked In, with the rest of the band joining them for the second song, ironically, it was noted by Bowes, called Stand Up.

Things really took off though with the addition of two female backing singers on Miracle Man, with guitarist Ben Matthews moving to keyboard and the song taking on a hymnal, gospel quality.

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A keyboard-led A Better Man, was simply gorgeous and Chris Child's walking bassline on Girl's Going Out of Her Head took that song into jazzy realms.

Thunder. Pictures by: Ian Harvey

Robert Johnson's Tombstone was turned into a bit of a hoedown, while Fly On The Wall, a song which might normally be a bit of an also ran in a full electric Thunder show was given the space to spread its wings and shine.

Not so successful were Loser and She's So Fine, which just felt too plodding and pedestrian to these ears.

Driving away after the concert, back through all those roadworks, I was determined to do two things; play my copy of Please Remain Seated again and enjoy the delicate sound of Thunder - then play my favourite original Thunder albums again . . . Loud . . . Very loud.

Ian Harvey

By Ian Harvey
@IanHarvey_Star

Shropshire Star Internet Editor based at the head office in Ketley, Telford

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