Among the most popular and enduring British hard rock bands of the past 25 years, Thunder are to launch two previously unreleased live albums on January 26 via earMUSIC.
The first of the pair, Live At Islington Academy, captures the South London based band during the touring cycle of their eighth studio album Robert Johnson’s Tombstone. The quintet had already completed a lengthy circuit of the UK in promotion of the record when they were contacted by Planet Rock Radio (UK) about the possibility of performing a set before a live audience at the station’s first annual Christmas Bash. As fun lovers of the most devoted kind, how could Thunder possibly say no?
A mere 800 lucky fans got the opportunity to see Thunder perform at the Planet Rock Christmas Party on December 19, 2006. Hosted by Rob Birnie and Mark Jeeves, the event was a massive success as the band offered up a storming, surprise performance dominated by golden classics such as “River Of Pain,” “Low Life In High Places,” “You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down,” “Love Walked In,” “Backstreet Symphony,” and “I Love You More Than Rock ‘N’ Roll,” followed by a hot, sweaty encore of the hit single “Dirty Love.”
“From what I recall, no one in the audience seemed to have a clue that we would attend the party, let alone play, so they were all pretty shocked when we stepped on to the stage,” says frontman Danny Bowes. “It was boiling hot inside the venue, and also freezing outside, and we worked them pretty hard. They looked pretty hot and sweaty when it was done. I reckon a fair few of the crowd must have caught colds on the way home.”
The second live album, Live At Leeds, was a more official affair, recorded nine years later on March 3, 2015, as part of a three-date arena tour in support of Wonder Days, one of the finest studio records of Thunder’s career. In the pages of Classic Rock magazine, the late, great journalist Malcolm Dome declared Wonder Days” a massive reminder that class is both timeless and incandescent.”
The resulting tour was shorter than the group’s traditional treks as it marked the first steps of public rehabilitation for Ben Matthews, the rhythm guitarist and keyboardist who was in recovery from throat cancer. Unsurprisingly, these shows were emotionally charged for both band and audience.
“My overriding memory of that night at the First Direct Arena in Leeds was mainly the look on Benny’s face when the audience reacted to him being back,” grins guitarist Luke Morley, who describes a first spell of his band stepping up to headline arenas in their homeland at last as “very satisfying.”
A 16-song set delivered a hatful of hits and no less than six numbers from Wonder Days, namely its title cut, “Black Water,” “Resurrection Day,” “Broken,” “The Thing I Want,” and “When The Music Played.”
Both concerts, Live At Islington Academy and Live At Leeds, stood as further evidence of Thunder’s prowess as live entertainers. And now at last you can re-live the experience.
On January 26, both concerts will become available on CD, vinyl, as well as digital download and streaming. Pre-order Live At Leeds here and pre-order Live At Islington here. Also be sure to hit our archives for an interview with Thunder’s Luke Morely discussing the band’s double album Dopamine.
Follow us @ThePureRockShop on Facebook and Instagram for more local show coverage including Trans-Siberian Orchestra later this week as well as shows from Steelheart, Lynch Mob and Quiet Riot to ring in the New Year in nearby Ohio at the new Epic Live in Ashtabula. In January, you’ll find us in Key West’s at the Third-Annual Rokisland Festival, in March, we’ll be on the Monsters of Rock Cruise, and in May, you’ll find us at the M3 Rock Festival in Baltimore.
News posted on 12/11/2023.