It was the final night in London of a 3 date tour for Thunder, playing to a crowd that was delighted to see them live. With a new album, the band sounding better than ever and the welcome return of Ben Matthews for the live dates, everything felt right in the world once again.
Playing some of their biggest shows to date, Tax The Heat were clearly enjoying the experience as they launched into ‘Millionaire’, kicking off the evening with an excellent set from them. Playing some of their most popular songs, even those that hadn’t seen the band before were getting into the music, and ‘Devil’s Daughter’ saw the band put on an energetic performance as they moved around the stage. With singer Alex Veale telling those there that playing the Apollo was something he had wanted to do since he was ten years old, you could understand when he shouted out “Hello Hammersmith” to an appreciative crowd. Tax The Heat never fail to deliver live and tonight was no exception as ‘Highway Home’ sounded massive and ‘Caroline’ with its great harmonies was a delight to watch. ‘Fed To The Lions’ was made for this size of venue as the band formed a circle round the drums for its monster guitar ending. Finishing the set with ‘Nowhere Street’ which had an impressive blues guitar break before the song rose into a crescendo of sound, and after a brilliant opening set, Alex couldn’t have said it any better when he left the stage with the final words of “thanks for making dreams come true”.
It’s hard to believe that the advert which brought Reef to the attention of many people was 20 years ago. With the band taking to stage, they sounded on excellent form as ‘Just Feel Love’ opened the set and it was obvious there were a lot of Reef fans in the audience as they sang along to all the songs including ‘Come Back Brighter’, ‘Stone For Your Love’ and ‘Consideration’. With excellent vocals from Gary Stringer, as he danced and weaved around the stage and guitarist Jesse Wood slotting in well with the band, this was a powerful set. With Gary asking the crowd “are you looking forward to Thunder?” in that lovely west country accent, this brought a huge cheer but first they wanted to hear more of Reef as they were playing an epic set. Playing the hugely popular ‘Place You Hands’, the crowd was moving and singing along in unison and the set continued with the brilliant ‘Summer’s In Bloom’ and ‘New Bird’. It was then back to that memorable moment when ‘Naked’ blasted out through the speakers with that unforgettable guitar intro. As the words “I’ll blow you away” were sung, Reef did exactly that with their live version of this. Ending with ‘Yer Old’, everyone there had been treated to an excellent set from them.
With Planet Rock being played in between the bands, it was a nice gesture to the radio station whose listeners had voted Thunder Best British Band in this year’s Rocks Awards. As a montage of photographs from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s were shown on the screen and with many of the audience being of the age where the majority of the images were recognised, when the word “Thunder” flashed up in red, the band took to the stage to a massive cheer. Starting with ‘Wonder Days’ from their latest album, the band were sounding incredible. With the vocals of Danny Bowes better than they have ever been, you knew from the opening notes you were in for a special night. It was a mixture of old and new classic Thunder as the guitars and drums pounded the venue on ‘River Of Pain’, ‘Black Water’ and ‘Resurrection Day’. No other band does a power ballad anywhere near as well as Thunder do and so it was a brilliant ‘Broken’ that was up next. With Danny telling the crowd “I need to see you, but more importantly I need to hear you at my age”, he made an already delighted crowd cheer even more loudly after every song, and ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ was no exception. As a picture of young looking Harry James went up on the screen that was on the cover of a truly classic album (and reminded everyone there we’ve all aged a bit since then!) it was ‘Backstreet Symphony’ that brought the house down at that point, as everyone sung along to every word. Mentioning they had returned a few times now, when Danny said “..And now we are back”, the crowd couldn’t have cheered any louder. Thunder were definitely back and were putting on an electric performance, with Danny gracing the stage with some rock star moves. ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ and ‘The Thing I Want’ were sounding immense and when an acoustic guitar was brought on the stage, you could feel a ripple of anticipation as the opening notes of ‘When Love Walked’ were played by Luke Morley, before the rest of the band joined in and the Apollo just erupted. Ending with ‘I Love You More Than Rock ‘N’ Roll’, Thunder were most definitely back with a bang. Still there was more to come with an encore of ‘Low Life In High Places’, Danny getting the crowd to sing the words “Low Life In High Places” in the longest notes possible and not to think or breathe so they were “in the zone”, and it was a proud moment when London was announced to be the best to do this over their 3 nights. ‘Higher Ground’ heated things up a little bit more as those upstairs were stood up at this point and going wild. Then with Luke mimicking with his guitar what Danny said about the smelly, cheating, pie-eating woman who had inspired the final song, ‘Dirty Love’ blew the roof off and the entire borough of Hammersmith must have heard the cheer. It was a euphoric crowd that streamed on to the streets after the show, having seen a truly amazing set from Thunder.