Thunder / Cats In Space - Hammersmith Apollo, London (UK) - 28 March 2017
Cats In Space always remind me of a Rock opera due to their obvious influences from Queen. Apparently singer Paul Manzi was experiencing chest pains this evening but I have to say hats off to him as I would not have known unless I was told. This was their first time at Hammersmith apparently, however, they certainly looked like they belonged in this well-known venue and certainly rose to the occasion. I personally prefer their Rockier material and they delivered a selection of hard and soft tonight, presumably to suit all tastes of the audience.
Thunder showed a lot of confidence in their new material and did three numbers from the new album early in the set, including 'No One Gets Out Alive' as an opener and two more towards the end. The new material came over very well with the audience and in particular 'Right From The Start' was a great showcase for Danny Bowes' voice which is soulful with an exquisite Bluesy crack. You've either got it or you haven't, you can't learn it in school and Bowes has it is spades. With a beautiful mellow solo from Luke Morley to close, there's no doubting the class of the material on offer. However, it is with old favourite 'Back Street Symphony' that the crowd really woke up, waved their hands, sang and performed on cue. Bowes relished the role of conductor tonight and he was very clear and direct in what he expected from the crowd and they loved it! He got them to increase intensity with the smallest gesture and they raised the roof!
However, it was the truly beautiful 'Don't Wait For Me' and 'Love Walked In' that took the prize tonight. The crowd sang along to the stunning A Capella verses and there was some masterful Bluesy playing from Morley who mainlined artists such as Muddy Waters and betrayed years of practice and worship in front of the altar of the Blues. Bowes makes the crowd wait for a good minute or two for the final "don't wait for me... goodbye" but fortunately he killed it and it was by no means an anti climax. In fact, it was a spine tingling delivery full of emotion. He essentially summoned all the energy of the crowd and reflected it back in an unforgettable moment that would have been worth the ticket price alone. He then withdrew to leave Morley to riff away with his head back in passion and the rest of the band to punctuate and underline the drama with a staccato military band beat to the climax.
An equally great version of 'Love Walked In' was delivered and the greatness of the composition reminded us all that these guys really could do this till they are ninety because, like all great music, their material transcends boundaries and this song could be played in almost any genre. Grand drama over, it was time to enjoy the rest of the show and we got party songs 'I Love You More Than Rock 'N' Roll' and 'Dirty Love'. There was also a cameo appearance from Lynne Jackaman bringing a sixties vibe to 'She Likes The Cocaine'. Sadly, from where I was, it was hard to hear her, which was a shame, but it was a nice bit of diversity in the show.
Thunder really have reached the absolute definition of Classic Rock. It's time to relax and enjoy living legend status and definitely not time to hang up their gear for good.