THUNDER – Gagarin 205, Athens, Greece – 19 May 2018
Support – Kingdragon and SL Theory
Review and Pictures: Nicky Barker
(For the majority of the U.S. Thunder are a little or unknown entity…They’re a hard rock band from London, England that were formed in 1989 by former Terraplane members, vocalist Danny Bowes, guitarist Luke Morley and drummer, Gary “Harry” James. Their first album ‘Backstreet Symphony’, released in 1990 was a critical success and instantly gained them a loyal following. Since then they’ve released a further 10 very successful studio albums, the last of which was 2017’s ‘Rip It Up’. This summer the band are playing at Download Festival, Donington and an already sold out show at Caerphilly Castle, Wales.)
Danny Bowes (vocals)
Luke Morley (guitar)
Dean Howard for Ben Matthews (guitar/keys)
Chris Childs (bass)
Gary ‘Harry’ James (drums)
Tonight, after a 29 year career Thunder were to play their first ever gig in Athens, Greece. The excitement of the crowd was obvious. Opening the show to the aptly titled AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” with the crowd chanting ‘Thunder’, the band burst on stage with their first song ‘Wonder Days‘. The crowd sang along to every word, on occasions drowning out singer, Danny Bowes. This continued into ‘River of Pain‘ and ‘Resurrection Day‘.
Danny fell silent at the end of ‘Low Life In High Places‘ and let the crowd finish the song as he listened. He then proceeded to say “that was shit!” This was all in good humour as he continued his banter with the crowd, who were given a couple more attempts at finishing the song ‘in tune’. Chanting “Thunder, Thunder”, Danny told the crowd “he hadn’t finished yet” and proceeded to finish the song in his usual pitch perfect fashion.
Danny’s voice is sublime and easily one of the best rock singers in the business. He is also a great showman with boundless energy. The band’s guitarist Ben Matthews was replaced on this evening by Dean Howard of T’pau and Cats in Space. Ben’s absence was announced a couple of days before the gig when Thunder reported Ben had broken his collar bone in a “little accident” and that he was a “Silly Billy”. Dean however, did a sterling job as did the great Luke Morley who put his heart and soul into every single note. Chris Childs on bass contributed his usual thumb plucking brilliance.
Gary “Harry” James, in his trademark dark glasses, was barely visible behind his huge drum kit. “Harry” (who recently departed another British gem of a band, Magnum) is one of the best loved drummers on the European rock circuit. He plays with real passion and at 57 years old still produces a thunderous sound!
Tonight’s set was filled with a ton of crowd pleasing favourites such as “Higher Ground”, “The Devil Made Me Do It“, “The Only Thing I Want” and of course the amazing ballad from ‘Backstreet Symphony‘, “Love Walked In“
The crowd at this gig were absolutely brilliant, there was a real camaraderie felt in the room. During the final song of the evening ‘Dirty Love‘, rather than the usual mosh pit, a spontaneous conga broke out with lots of clapping and cheering as it snaked through the room. This was definitely the best crowd I have ever experienced in my many years as a gig goer. All in all a fantastic gig, and one of, if not THE favourite, Thunder gigs I have been to. I am pretty sure after that response Thunder will be back soon.
River of pain
Low Life in High Places
The Only Thing I Want
The Devil Made Me Do It
Love Walked In
I Love You More Than Rock n Roll
*EDITOR’S NOTE: Thunder are a British band that have had almost zero recognition in the U.S. They’ve been around since the late 80’s, are wildly popular across the U.K. and the rest of Europe, have released 11 albums and usually play a limited gig schedule mixed in with European Festivals. Earlier this year they performed on the 2018 Monsters of Rock Cruise, giving hope that they might venture further toward U.S. shores… Because if they don’t I’m going to start hounding the shit out of them and their management BECAUSE I’M A HUGE FAN OF THEIRS AND ONLY GOT TO SEE THEM ONCE AT THE ULSTER HALL IN BELFAST NORTHERN IRELAND IN 1990….!!!!!!
The evening kicked off with the first of two support bands, KingDragon; a four piece, Greek melodic hard n heavy band formed in 2006. They have a strong melodic sound with a mixture of influences from the 80’s and the 90’s. I really enjoyed their short set. As did the crowd who gave them a great reception.
The second band of the evening were SL Theory. A heavy-prog rock band from Athens, with ten members. All of which were on stage. The lead singer Mike Karasoulis had a very strong stage presence and did a very good job of warming the crowd up ready for the main act.