Gig review: UNPLUGGED AND UNSCRIPTED: AN EVENING WITH DANNY AND LUKE (Thunder) – Alban Arena, St Albans, 9 October 2019

It’s been a busy year already for Thunder with their ‘Please Remain Seated’ tour and the launch of a career spanning greatest hits album, not to mention a recent club show at the Garage in London, recently reviewed on this site.

However,  maintaining their punishing schedule singer Danny Bowes and guitarist and chief songwriter Luke Morley went out on this tour of the provinces, pitched somewhere between acoustic gig, book show launch and chat show appearance.


With, as you may be able to tell, photography strictly banned during the show, they were seated in leather armchairs emblazoned with their names, with famous journalist Mick Wall acting as the host and steering the conversation.

Indeed the first half of the evening trod very similar ground to his recent interview with the pair in Classic Rock, as he took them chronologically through their first decade, from Thunder’s rise to prominence in the wake of the dissolution of their previous band Terraplane.

All their reminiscences were delivered with their trademark sharp South London wit and Mick was swiftly taken down a peg or two if the questions became too fawning, while the two sparked each other off in the way only those who have been friends for nearly 50 years can.

We are used to this from Danny, not only with his cheeky stage persona, alternatively encouraging fans and taking the mickey from the stage, but also having done similar shows with bandmate Ben Matthews a few years back. However Luke was a revelation, actually the more talkative of the two as he delivered his tales in a sonorous voice with dry humour.

The evening though would have been incomplete without some musical accompaniment so in between questions Luke would pick up his guitar and the pair played stripped down versions of Thunder classics, beginning with the title track from ‘Backstreet Symphony’, stunningly different from the original and with Luke’s vocal harmonies behind the peerless Danny showing he is an underappreciated singer.

Fortunately the equally fine sophomore ‘Laughing On Judgement Day’ was well represented with ‘Low Life In High Places’, a rare chance to hear ‘Does It Feel Like Love’ and before the interval ice creams, ‘A Better Man’ which was the nearest to the original.


The second half of the set was in a similar format, but the line of questioning covered not only the subsequent phases of their career, but some more general anecdotes, none funnier than the tale of drummer Harry James and a drunken high wire operator, even if I am sure it was also aired at the Danny and Ben shows.

The musical interludes were varied with a Thunder classic I’d forgotten all about in ‘Amy’s On The Run’, and an interesting tale that it was about someone undergoing gender reassignment. If that backed up Mick’s bold earlier assertion that Luke was in the class of John Lennon as a lyricist about serious topics, ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’…well, not so much.

After an exquisite rendition of ‘Like A Satellite’, Mick belatedly then asked some of the questions the audience had been invited to submit,  though these were of the quickfire and light-hearted variety, Danny being a particular target for his Little Mix T-shirt at Download and whether he planned to make a fitness video.

At that point,  seemingly spontaneously, he answered nature’s call, at which point in almost panto-like fashion Mick lifted a finger and in from the wings came a third member of the Terraplane/Thunder triumvirate in Harry himself, for a chat and to tease his singer behind his back, before they ended with ‘Serpentine’, the audience clapping out a rhythm.

However there was time for an encore with perhaps Thunder’s classic song in ‘Love Walked In’- a perfect illustration of the two sides of the band – the sheer emotion and quality of the song and Danny’s voice, allied to their impish humour as Harry tried to undermine proceedings.

It was a suitably fun end to an enjoyable evening: I’ve seen Thunder innumerable times, but this was a real insight into what has made them tick over the past 30 years.

Review and photos by Andy Nathan

David Randall plays a selection of new and classic rock in his weekly show first broadcast 14 June 2020 including reference to the Feature series “2020 Vision”.

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