Live Review: Thunder / Kris Barras Band – Wembley Arena, London 28.05.2022

Jon Pigram

By Adrian Peel photos by Jon Pigram

One of the UK’s most underrated hard rock bands – though packing out much of Wembley Arena more than 30 years after they first got together is a pretty impressive feat – Thunder brought their UK tour to a close with a setlist that lay heavily towards their latest album, Dopamine.

Solid support came from Kris Barras Band, who delivered an explosive set that included These Voices, Planet Rock’s most played song in April, and 90s rockers Ugly Kid Joe, whose most well-received tunes were Cats in the Cradle and the still-very catchy Everything About You. A cover of Motorhead‘s Ace of Spades was a great way to finish.

After the refrain of ‘Thunder’ from AC/DC‘s Thunderstruck had echoed around the arena, a large black curtain came down revealing Thunder – the five official members of the band (a line-up that’s been intact since 1996) augmented by a keyboard player and two female backing singers – behind it.

Opening with Last One Out Turn off the Lights, off 2021’s All the Right Noises, the energetic group got the proceedings off to a fine start with this Zeppelin-esque rocker. “You seem noisy!” said likeable frontman Danny Bowes, addressing the crowd after the second track of the evening The Western Sky, “show me!”

He then got the appreciative audience singing ahead of Higher Ground, the first song of the night to come from Thunder’s stunning debut album, 1990s’s Backstreet Symphony. It wouldn’t be the last.

Danny, whose powerful rock voice sounds better than ever, introduced guitarist Ben Matthews, hailing him as the “comeback kid” and adding, “He’s had two bouts of cancer and he’s still here!” He then noted, “This song wasn’t written about him but it should have been” before launching into Resurrection Day from 2015’s Wonder Days.

“Here’s an oldie but a goodie,” announced Danny, before Low Life in High Places, the only tune to feature from Thunder’s second album, Laughing on Judgement Day. Huge cheers greeted timeless power ballad Love Walked In and Backstreet Symphony, the last song before the encore.

The encore consisted of two tracks off the new album (Last Orders and the excellent Dancing in the Sunshine) and Dirty Love, an outstanding classic rock number unravaged by age and one which certainly has a strong claim to being Thunder’s signature tune.

I know it’s a common complaint but if I had one gripe about tonight’s gig it was that there were a few too many songs from the new album and not all of them quite hit the heights of more familiar material from the past – meaning there was no room for the likes of I Love You More Than Rock ‘n’ Roll and River of Pain – but I’m still incredibly glad that I finally got to see them. Long may Thunder, a very well-oiled machine boasting extremely talented musicians, continue to do what they do! 

Previous Live Review: YONAKA / July Jones - The Academy Greenroom, Dublin 26,05,2022
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