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Thunder at Symphony Hall, 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
Event:
Fans urged to 'Please Remain Seated'
The last time I saw Thunder in concert was in March 2015, when they rocked the roof off Birmingham's cavernous Barclaycard Arena (review here). Following the release of their latest album, Please Remain Seated, things are now very different and they've moved into the plusher, some would say more civilised, surroundings of the city's Symphony Hall.

Thunder, Danny Bowes, Symphony Hall Birmingham, Please Remain Seated, Luke Morley, Ben Matthews, Chris Childs, Harry James
Seated: Thunder on stage at Birmingham's Symphony Hall


The album features some of the band's favourite tracks, re-recorded in various styles which are thought to be better suited to a seated rendition. So the band remain on stools throughout the nearly two-hour show. The audience is told they don't have to stay seated but they do until two standing ovations at the end.

There are two possible problems with this format. The songs have to be strong to survive the stripped back treatment and the vocals are pushed to the fore so must be perfectly executed. We needn't have worried. Thunder have an enviable repertoire of great tracks and vocalist Danny Bowes was in fine form, his voice soaring and more than a match for Symphony Hall's famous acoustics.

Thunder, Danny Bowes, Symphony Hall Birmingham, Please Remain Seated, Luke Morley, Ben Matthews, Chris Childs, Harry James


However, after the first song, a lean Love Walked In, just voice and Luke Morley's guitar, Danny said what we were all thinking: "This is weird you're sitting, we're sitting. We've spent 30 years trying to get people out of their seats and on their feet."

The irony of the next song, Stand Up, played with a rockabilly vibe, did not go unnoticed.

The addition of backing singers Lara Smiles and Emily Lynn gave another dimension to the songs, as did the appearance of guest keyboardist Sam Tanner who shone on Girls Going Out Of Her Head and Future Train. Sam was occasionally joined on keys by guitarist Ben Matthews, who seemed more at home towards the back of the stage than awkwardly perched on a stool at the front.

When Luke Morley swapped his acoustic for an electric guitar, on Empty City, for example, it felt more like classic Thunder, especially with Harry James bashing away at his drum kit and Chris Childs providing a funky bassline.

Thunder, Danny Bowes, Symphony Hall Birmingham, Please Remain Seated, Luke Morley, Ben Matthews, Chris Childs, Harry James
Soaring: Danny Bowes in fine form


Danny recommended some 'seat jiggling' during a boogie-some Bigger Than Both Of Us but, by the end of the show, the likes of Serpentine and She's So Fine just made everybody want to get up and dance.

Thunder are gigging in Germany during March and April, then they play a full electric set at the Steelhouse Festival in Ebbw Vale in July.

Thunder, Danny Bowes, Symphony Hall Birmingham, Please Remain Seated, Luke Morley, Ben Matthews, Chris Childs, Harry James
(pic: Jason Joyce)


Setlist

Love Walked In
Stand Up
Miracle Man
River Of Pain
Future Train
Blown Away
Girl's Going Out of Her Head
Higher Ground
Empty City
A Better Man
Fly on the Wall
Just Another Suicide
Bigger Than Both of Us
Loser
Serpentine

Encore:

Robert Johnson's Tombstone
She's So Fine
Resurrection Day
Low Life In High Places
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Why? Thunder tracks revisited
When: February 12, 2019, then touring Germany in March and April
Phone: 0121 780 3333
Where: Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Cost: 31.50 - 41.50 plus fees
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