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Thunder and Reef at Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham - Review

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by Andy Coleman (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
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Never too old to rock
Four of Thunder's first five songs at this major show were from the band's recently released album, Wonder Days. My first thought was that the veteran outfit were either daft or supremely confident about their new material.

It turned out to be the latter and Thunder were right to trust their instincts. After 25 years in the business and ten studio albums they are at last headlining arenas, kicking off their second such date in Birmingham with the title track of their new release.

This was followed by River of Pain, from third album Behind Closed Doors, then newies Black Water, Resurrection Day and Broken, all from the just released record. It helps that Thunder have a passionate fan base and from the way the crowd was singing along it was obvious most were familiar with the new songs. But the tunes and melodies are so catchy the tracks are immediately accessible to those who don't own Wonder Days.

Thunder, Review, Barclaycard Arena Birmingham, Danny Bowes, Wonder Days, Reef
On stage: Thunder at Birmingham's Barclaycard Arena, March 13, 2015

Two more new songs, the Stonesy The Thing I Want and the nostalgic When The Music Played, accompanied by projected pictures of significant events and people of the 1970s, were aired during the show.

Predictably, though, the biggest cheers from the impressively large crowd, were reserved for the favourites from Thunder's 1990 debut Backstreet Symphony. The title track, Love Walked In and the double whammy encore closer Higher Ground and Dirty Love were greeted like old friends.

Other highlights included The Devil Made Me Do It from 2006's Robert Johnson's Tombstone and set closer I Love You More Than Rock 'n' Rock with vocalist Danny Bowes persuading everyone to bounce up and down and sing along.

Thunder, Review, Barclaycard Arena Birmingham, Danny Bowes, Wonder Days, Reef
Great form: Danny Bowes in Birmingham

Danny was on great form throughout – he was obviously delighted to be headlining an arena show but also relieved to be on stage with guitarist Ben Matthews who, he announced, had beaten cancer.

Drummer Harry James and bassist Chris Childs laid down a solid backbeat, while lead guitarist Luke Morley revelled in his time in the spotlight for his solos, especially during the epic Empty City.

Thunder, Review, Barclaycard Arena Birmingham, Danny Bowes, Wonder Days, Reef
Solo: Thunder's Luke Morley in the spotlight

No expense was spared to make this a spectacular show, with an impressive lighting rig that ascended and descended above the stage. It's a pity it was not used during support band Reef's 45 minute set – at times it was so dark you could hardly see the band.

What we could make out was that singer Gary Stringer and bassist Jack Bessant seemed to be auditioning for ZZ Top, such was the bushiness of their beards!

Thunder, Reef, Review, Barclaycard Arena Birmingham, Danny Bowes, Wonder Days, Reef
ZZ Top auditions?: Reef's Gary Stringer and Jack Bessant on stage in Birmingham

The band now has some youthful zest thanks to the addition of guitarist Jesse Wood, son of Rolling Stone Ronnie and husband of Fearne Cotton. Although fairly static on stage he let his guitar do the talking and impressed on the likes of Come Back Brighter, Place Your Hands and new song Lone Rider.

An evening of vintage rock from two bands who still have a lot of fresh material to offer.

Wonder Days
River of Pain
Black Water
Resurrection Day
The Devil Made Me Do It
Empty City
Backstreet Symphony
I'll Be Waiting
The Thing I Want
When The Music Played
Love Walked In
I Love You More Than Rock 'n' Roll
Low Life In High Places
Higher Ground
Dirty Love
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Why? Wonder gig from band promoting their new Wonder Days album
When: Touring until March 14, 2015, then June 24 at Download
Where: Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham
Cost: £31.65
Your Comment
Just a quickie - River of Pain isn't from the new album, it's from the third album Behind Closed Doors.
by batsn (score: 0|3) 2500 days ago
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