Of all the things I’d envisaged when hearing that Dan Reed was supporting tonight, an acoustic cover of “Holy Diver”, if I am honest, was a million miles down the list. But there it is, and very good it was too. More usual perhaps, were some of the other highlights here in Reed’s entertaining 40 minutes. “Champion” is a fine example of the recent work of Dan Reed Network – the main vehicle for his talents, but it is “Rainbow Child” that, as always, stands out. “Sing along if you know it,” he jokes. “Man, I’m so lonely up here….”. In reality, he’s amongst friends, because as ever, there’s a real warmth about Reed. “Stronger Than Steel” really works in this setting and it remains a glorious ballad of which DR is rightly proud. “Brave New World” deals with the more pressing situation that is the fate of the human race, no pressure there, then. But it says much for his versatility that he can end things a-Capella and “All My Lovin’” comes over just as well, and there is something compelling at work here.


“So, what d’ya reckon then?” asks Thunder’s singer (and never is that word more apt in rock n roll than here) Danny Bowes as he finishes “Robert Johnson’s Tombstone”. “different, but good?”

The cheer around a packed Symphony Hall suggests Birmingham agrees. In honesty it would be difficult not to.

He’s right too, the boy Bowes. It is different. This isn’t a show that’s going to end with “Dirty Love” or “I Love You More Than Rock N Roll”, the clue is in the title of both the tour and the accompanying album: “Please Remain Seated”.

This is a predominantly acoustic gig, and its more of a performance, perhaps than the visceral excitement of an electric Thunder gig, but really – like the album in truth – its far better than you dared hope.

Right from the moment Bowes and his trusty sidekick for all these years, Luke Morley, appear to do “Love Walked In” it is actually as plain as you like that the band are getting as much from this as the audience. They just look pleased, no make that delighted, throughout.

The rest of the band appear – they are also ably backed by a pair of backing singers including Emily Lynn and a keyboard player to beef up the sound – for “Stand Up” (“irony of ironies” smiles Bowes) before “Miracle Man”. This, surely, is the song which has benefitted most from its reworking, and it sounds magnificent here.

It is interesting actually, that whilst some of the songs do sound radically different in this setting – “Girl’s Going Out Of Her Head” for example takes on a jazz feel – then “Higher Ground” is one of a clutch that sound basically the same, just acoustic. What they have in common, though, is they all work.

It is also fair to say, that this is not a greatest hits set really. “Better Man” is superb, but it is possibly the last two that steal the show. “Loser” becomes the reflective, bleak thing you always wanted it to be, but “Serpentine” is both sleazy as you like and a real crescendo of a finish as “seat jiggling and arm waving” becomes a thing.

In the encore they merrily just set about showing what a fantastic catalogue they have. “She’s So Fine”. 30 years old and fresh as a daisy, a wonderfully uplifting “Resurrection Day” which proves they’ve still got it even on their later stuff and “Low Life In High Places”. Surely as relevant now as back then is given a radical reworking, involving a choir, but crucially a spectacular solo from Morley – not his first tonight either.

This is to celebrate their 30 years. And they’ve done it in style. Where a lot of bands would have done one of those album shows and played “Backstreet Symphony” in full, Thunder have done it their way, but brought everyone else along too.

Please Remain Seated: an excellent way to remain interesting into your fourth decade.

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