Our Andy loves Thunder and hates christmas. Here are his personal thoughts on the band’s Christmas gig in Wolves
Say what you like about these (most) yearly Thunder Christmas shows, but you could never accuse them of just trotting out the hits. Not once, in our wildest thoughts did we expect to see Danny Bowes wrapping his formidable voice around “Lido Shuffle” by Boz Scaggs tonight, but yet, in the second set tonight, here we are. They do it well too.
And actually, these Christmas gigs have become a kind of byword for the band to play things they might not ordinarily do, which to be totally honest, is why I come to them. It certainly isn’t for the flashing Santa hats, the dodgy jumpers or some bloke in full Father Christmas uniform flanked by his elves.
If that’s your bag good luck to you, but as one of the many people for whom this isn’t the most wonderful time of the year, I can only judge this as any other gig, not some feast of festive fun.
However more outlandish the costumes get each time, the format stays the same. They come out, play a 45 minute or so acoustic set, and then in the words of the inimitable Bowes, “go for a wee wee then jump up and down a bit.”
Both sets, though, benefit and at the same time suffer from Thunder’s commendable desire to do different stuff. And whilst acoustically that entirely works on “Blue Eyed Girl” (“it was on one of our EP’s but clearly none of you bought it, as nobody was singing” deadpans the singer), “The Rain” and a wonderful “The Thrill Of It All”, then whether it is quite necessary to include two Beatles covers and “Big Yellow Taxi” as well then MV isn’t so sure.
In between, they play their current single “Christmas Day” and its b-side, a reworked go at their classic “Love Walked In” and the absolute highlight, a take on “Don’t Say That” that is equal parts Elvis and Chas and Dave.
Knockabout and entertaining for the most part, there is though, the feeling that the whole thing revolves around the “jumping up and down”. The plugged in set. The Thunder set, if you will.
Again, to their credit, they don’t stick to the script. “Loser” is a brilliant starter, “Laughing On Judgement Day” isn’t one they play every time, neither is the funky “Everybody’s Laughing”, and the two from “Rip It Up”, the blusey brooder “In Another Life” (which always reminds us of Alannah Myles “Black Velvet” but we digress) and “The Chosen One” (played for the first time here) show that album’s quality.
For our money and being totally honest, there are too many covers. “21st Century Boy” is a belting song, of course, as are “Who Are You?” and “Gimme Shelter” but do I want to hear those or three rarely played Thunder songs? Well, Thunder are in my top five bands ever, so I’ll leave that there.
The crowd goes mad for “Don’t Stop Me Now” but the two Thunder copper bottomed classics “Castles In The Sand” which sees Luke Morley’s guitar mesh with keyboard man Tim Oliver superbly and the closing She’s So Fine” are better than anything Queen ever did.
There is a welcome reappearance for “Englishman On Holiday” in the encore before Heather Findlay provides a striking and excellent performance in “Fairytale Of New York” and they end with that Wizzard song and the Santa hats bob about in unison.
Thunder have always been – and will always be – one of my all time favourite bands. Some of the finest gigs I’ve ever seen were in here watching them and watching them will always be a treat and something I’ll always do. Will I come to a Christmas show again? I’ve been to three others before this and that might be enough. Notwithstanding my personal feelings on the season , I just prefer Thunder when they are being Thunder and not filling half their set with the songs of other inferior – in my opinion anyway – bands.