FOR some time Thunder have been the go to band for AOR music, with a back catalogue that stirs many a heart of those that recall their halcyon days of the band ass chart masters. And, they are still churning out albums chock full of songs with their trademark sound.
Before Thunder took the stage on Friday (March 31st) there was the small matter of local heroes Trucker Diablo. However, whoever in their wisdom thought it was a good idea to open the doors as late as 8pm and then have the Big Truck start at 8:15 seems to have missed a trick.
That meant that Trucker were playing their first few tracks to a Mandella Hall that was at best half full as the queue for the sold-out show was snaking well beyond the length of the QUB Students' Union.
Undaunted Trucker Diablo ripped through an all-too brief slot. Raucous and melodic with more hooks than a fisherman on crack songs such as 'Party Like It's The End of the World' and 'Drive' for those already familiar were quick to join in.
'Drink Beer, Destroy' may have been a little too fast paced for the older audience members, but it was greeted by the Trucker fans as the anthem to excess that it is.
Concluding with 'Rebel' the Big truck is rolling well; and with a new album and UK festival dates it is clear that this rock 'n' roll 'Juggernaut' is going to crush all in its path.
The last time Thunder played in Belfast they were openers in the cavernous SSE Arena, and were denied the full PA and light show. Still that night they nearly stole all the plaudits.
With new album 'Rip It Up' receiving plaudits the band took the bold step of opening with two tracks from it, namely 'No One Gets Out Alive' and 'The Enemy Inside'.
With it being the last night of this leg of the tour to support 'Rip It Up' Danny Bowes make a point of encouraging ever louder responses from the crowd, through spoken words and gestures.
While this worked well for the first half of the show, it did become a little predictable and tiresome after a while to a crowd that was devoted to the band anyway. It was not needed in Belfast. The welcome was warm enough.
That aside there is no doubting the quality of the band's performance and the strength of the set.
Of course, the biggest roars were for the likes of 'Backstreet Symphony', Love Walked In' and closer 'Dirty Love', but that is not the whole story. The band have real presence in the live setting.
Danny's voice is as strong as ever, resonant and with a sweet tone like the finest of honey. Luke Morley's work on the guitar was as strong as ever. His solo slot had enough chops, runs and style that many a shredder would envy.
What, however, is clear that this is a band, not a collection of individuals. They have been together long enough to be comfortable on stage and the moves are not so much choreographed but instinctive awareness of what needs to be done to entertain.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Jamie Hunter