Thunderhead at Staines

Thunderhead – the locally-based classic rock quartet, visited Staines in Surrey last night for their very first performance.

The band, with Keith Elford on vocals and guitar, Doug Lipinski on lead guitar, John Hiles on drums and Nick Potter on bass have been writing and rehearsing hard in the months leading up to this concert.

The chosen venue for the inaugural show was the Star in Kingston Road – the newly decorated and freshly invigorated public house (once the North Star) – which now has the svelte and swish look of a cocktail bar about it. The drinks were excellent, the staff were wonderful and the place looked spacious and welcoming.

Thunderhead - snarling chords and squeezed guitar licks...

Thunderhead – snarling chords and squeezed guitar licks…

Thunderhead promised to bring us some rarely played covers – but they started sensibly with an accurate representation of “Free Fallin” (Tom Petty, 1989) – this was very well received by the enthusiastic crowd.

Some other numbers – we perhaps expected them from the ex-Blue Fuses and ex-Zapped! players – also went down well… These included ‘Layla’ (Derek and the Dominos) and “Comfortably Numb” (someone near us said, “I love this one by the Scissor Sisters …”

But for us the stand-out number was “Rocky Mountain Way” (Joe Walsh, 1973) from ‘The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get’ with those snarling chords and squeezed guitar licks.

Of course, this version did not have any honky-tonk piano – but it still had all the tense attitude of those curled lip vocals, and all the dirty demeanour of the original song.

And we enjoyed the soulful nuances of “Because the Night” (Springsteen / Smith) and the gritty cynicism of “Money for Nothing”.

And of course, we were also treated to “Doctor Doctor” – introduced as the only publicly recognized song by the British hard rock band UFO – (it’s true) and played (at the time) by Michael Schenker on guitar and Phil Mogg on vocals. Both Doug (Thunderhead lead guitar) and Keith (Thunderhead vocals) rose to the occasion – they did not let this really great song down.

And special mention must go to John for his excellent drum work on “Radar Love” (Golden Earing) – now it’s not often you hear that song these days!

Passionate acoustic strumming from Keith, combined with tight drum-work and enthusiastically efficient bass-playing – all added to the overall quality of the sound. And, as expected, the work from lead-guitarist – Doug – was exquisite.

Energetic and powerfully re-created treasures from the history of rock – with supremely efficient guitars and vocals, so smoky, they made us choke.

Words and pictures by: @neilmach © 2014


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