For a band that last played the Download Festival back in 2009 as part of their farewell tour, Thunder are doing pretty well on the gig front these days and the Saturday teatime slot this year was no exception. Playing the 2nd stage rather than the tent this year shows just what a British rock treasure these 5 lads/old men are as the vista of raised arms and bouncing bodies stretches as far as you can see.

As the the intro tape of AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ fades out to the chants of “THUN-DER!” the band stride on stage with a short jam, based around the start of ‘Loser’ (or is ‘Loser’ based around that?) they hit the ground running by throwing themselves straight into Dirty Love, followed by a raucous rendition of ‘River of Pain’, a double hitting opener that’s so good you can’t help but wonder where Thunder can possibly go next.

One of the benefits of having been around for just shy of 25 years (that’ll be another tour then) is the extensive back catalogue you can pull from – I know I wouldn’t like to pick such a relatively short set from that library of songs – and so we are treated to a flawless ‘Higher Ground’, with guitarist Luke Morley leaping around on stage and leaving this reviewer astounded at such a opening triumvirate of awesomeness.

After a short reprieve the familiar sounds of ‘Backstreet Symphony’, the title track from Thunder’s most successful album, begin to ring out and the party continues, singer Danny Bowes’ voice never wavering. It is at this point, you have to hand it to Andy Copping, he has put together an excellent mix this year of the new (or should that be “nu”?) and classic bands, with every band I watched there was a constant feeling of excitement and elation throughout the audience born out of no other reason than the fact that (insert band name here) was in front of them.

After ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’, the band play the song everyone has turned up to hear – ‘Love Walked In’ which instigates so much singing from the audience that, if it wasn’t already sunny, the clouds themselves would have been shifted by the force coming from below and then it’s over.

With smiles all over the faces of both band and audience, there is one final hurrah of ‘I Love You More Than Rock N Roll’ before the drumsticks and plectrums are thrown and everyone in attendance agrees what an awesome Saturday night this is turning into.

Thunder – Facebook Page

Download Festival –  Official Website