||GLASGOW LOVES THUNDER AND CATS IN SPACE MORE THAN ROCK'N'ROLL
Thunder/Cats In Space: The Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow
Wednesday 22nd March
Words: Johnny Main, Pictures: Carlan Braid
Formed from the wreckage of Terraplane in 1989, Thunder launched themselves onto the scene with the classic 'Backstreet Symphony' album in 1990.
Featuring the classic rock voice of Danny Bowes, chief songwriter and guitar genius Luke Morley and, of course, the comedic talents and metronomic beats from drummer Garry 'Harry' James, the bands career spread over nearly twenty years and included a clutch of well received albums including 'Laughing On Judgement Day' (1992), 'The Thrill Of It All' (1996) and 'Giving The Game Away' (1999).
Then out of the blue in 2009 they announced their decision to split and their subsequent farewell tour saw them selling out venues across the UK, culminating in a show at London's Hammersmith Apollo which was recorded for a DVD as a testament of how great the band were live.
Fast forward a couple of years and they initially reformed for an appearance at 2011s High Voltage Festival but it was clear they still had a huge following so more gigs followed supporting Whitesnake and Journey in 2013 as well as performing at Download and Wacken Festivals before the band reformed properly to record their first new album in over seven years, 'The Wonder Days'.
The album was lauded by fans and critics as a return to form and their latest album, 'Rip It Up', which was released last month, has again has found favour from all corners. To back up the album the band are currently undertaking a UK tour which, yet again sees them selling out venues up and down the country and we caught up with them in Glasgow, where they were joined by the formidable Cats In Space.
It's been six long months since I last saw Cats In Space live (when they played a show in Glasgow with Space Elevator), so another look at them was well overdue. The brainchild of Greg Hart, who has penned songs for Donna Summer, Cher and Asia, he's moulded a band around him with each one of the band members hugely talented in their own right.
The Glasgow audience was unusually tardy, however, with the band unfortunately playing to a lot of empty seats – so those milling around the bar (or not even in the venue yet) certainly missed a first class show from a band who didn't put a foot wrong throughout their forty minute set – bar an over-exuberant bass player, Jeff Brown, who managed to pull his battery pack off early in the set, to laughter instead of help from guitarist Dean Howard and frontman Paul Manzi.
Effortlessly working through their debut album, 'Too Many Gods', the band put on a supreme show from the excellent vocal harmonies during 'Last Man Standing' to where it all began for the band, their very first single, 'Mr Heartache'. Manzi doesn't say much in-between the songs and Hart, when not trading guitar solos or harmonies with Howard encourages the audience to get involved and it's not an entirely fruitless task – especially for a small group down towards the front who are on their feet dancing away for most of the set.
It's not all from their debut album, however, as we're offered a tantalising peak at what's still to come form them with album number two, which is due for release later this year Manzi informs us, in the shape of brand new song, 'The Mad Hatter's Tea Party' which gets a good reaction from the audience, despite their unfamiliarity with it.
Without a doubt, though, the highlight of their set has to be 'The Greatest Story Never Told'. Brown steps up for the opening verse before Manzi takes over and the track ends with both of them sharing the vocals, but once the slow section is negotiated, the band puts the pedal to the Metal as the song really takes off with Hart and Howard playing the exceptional guitar solos during the faster rockier part. The greatest song they ever wrote – so far, yes!
Cats In Space really are everything you want them to be – fun, entertaining, musically gifted and well worth the effort to go and see – so for all those who were in the bar or turned up late, you missed a sensational opening act.
Cats In Space Setlist:
Too Many Gods
Only in Vegas
Last Man Standing
The Mad Hatter's Tea Party
The Greatest Story Never Told
Five Minute Celebrity
Cats In Space are:
Paul Manzi – Vocals/Guitars
Greg Hart – Guitars/Vocals
Dean Howard – Guitars/Vocals
Jeff Brown – Bass Guitar/Vocals
Andy Stewart – Keyboards
Steevi Bacon – Drums
As the lights finally went down to herald the start of Thunder's set, there was an air of anticipation which was helped along by their intro music, Kool & The Gang's 'Jungle Boogie', which had the audience on their feet in this all seated venue before the band even took to the stage. When they did finally appear, it was in a burst of enthusiasm that's the mark of Thunder shows, with frontman Danny Bowes coming on last to a euphoric response.
The smile on guitarist Ben Matthew's face told it's own story, and it remained there for the rest of the evening, as the two-and-a-half thousand punters went absolutely nuts for the best part of ninety minutes in a whistle stop run through Thunder's twenty-eight year career.
Their 'Backstreet Symphony' debut was plundered with five tracks including the boisterous title track and the show stealer that always was (and still is), 'Don't Wait For Me', which saw Bowes egging the audience to get louder and louder before he fully unleashes towards the end, only to be upstaged at the final hurdle by guitarist Luke Morley and his incredible talent.
"Here's one we all know!" asserted Bowes before 'Love Walked In' and he wasn't wrong either as the Glasgow choir were in full voice to carry the song along. It's still a breathtaking song after all these years, and it saw James egging the audience to get louder and louder from behind his drum kit before the climactic finish. It's a song that never fails to impress, and here there seemed to be hardly a dry eye in the house.
Bringing things right up to date, their current release, 'Rip It Up', was showcased with five tracks, and this material is just as strong as anything they've produced before. 'Right From The Start' gave everyone a breather from the hectic pace early on, well except for Morley with that exceptional guitar solo while later on, 'In Another Life' let some of the audience have a quick seat whilst others took the opportunity to dance away to the slow and slinky number.
The response to the encore was almost deafening as they finally did re-appear onstage. Kicking off the encore with 'Wonder Days', a modern day Thunder classic, the evening closed off with a rip roaring version of an old Thunder classic, the ubiquitous 'Dirty Love', and as the band retreated to the dressing room they were no doubt aware that their audience would be going home with huge smiles on their faces after a real master-class in how to put together a rock'n'roll show.
No One Gets Out Alive
River of Pain
Right From the Start
In Another Life
The Thing I Want
Don't Wait for Me
Rip It Up
Love Walked In
I Love You More Than Rock'N'Roll
There's Always A Loser
Danny Bowes – Lead Vocals
Luke Morley – Guitar
Ben Matthews – Guitar
Chris Childs – Bass Guitar
Harry James – Drums