Luke Morley @Newcastle Riverside, January 28 2024
Rock and roll rarely disappoints when it comes to delivering truly affecting tales of triumph in the face of adversity.
It’s time to add the second coming of Luke Morley as a solo artist to that celebrated tome of touching narratives.
In truth, this fabulous tour, and the sparkling album it supports, might never have seen the light of day had life ticked along as normal.
When Danny Bowes suffered a serious head injury in 2022, it came as the proverbial bolt out of the blue.
Thunder, the band he’s fronted with such joy from day one, was immediately put on hold and his wingman Morley was left in an unaccustomed state of limbo.
One of the UK’s most talented and prolific songwriters suddenly found himself facing an unexpected career crossroads.
Thunder had been all consuming since the band reunited in 2011 but now what?
Songs From The Blue Room. That’s what.
Morley had always wanted to follow up 2001’s solo triumph El Gringo Retro but never found the time.
Albeit in difficult circumstances, now was the time.
Songs From The Blue Room was released to critical acclaim last summer — comfortably securing a spot inside Rushonrock’s Best Of 2023 — and there was an immediate clamour for live shows.
Initially reticent, Morley relented. And this delightful mix of Saturday night blues, soul and Americana proved Songs From The Blue Room deserves a live stage.
Flanked by Thunder bassman Chris Childs and a like-minded band of rock and roll brothers, Morley looked right at home centre stage at the Riverside.
I Wanna See The Light, Killed By Cobain and Errol Flynn — three of the new record’s outstanding cuts — were enhanced by classy contributions from Sam Tanner (keys) and Dean Howard (guitars).
Morley delighted in retelling the history of pre-Thunder project Terraplane and the coming together of a London-based supergroup that ultimately bombed.
Howard could — and probably should — have been invited to join the band but somehow missed out. It was a lucky escape.
As Morley, Bowes and co. toughed it out with Terraplane, Howard took a job with T’Pau. Good move.
“I turned on Top Of The Pops one Thursday night to cheer myself up and there was Dean at number one,” recalled Morley. “Turns out he was doing alright!”
Howard and T’Pau spent five weeks at number one with the iconic China In Your Hand but Morley’s time would come.
Rebranded as Thunder and produced by North Tyneside’s Andy Taylor, the ex-Terraplaners finally hit their stride. The rest is history.
A Better Man, from 1992’s Laughing On Judgement Day, might have been the only Thunder song performed here but it was the best pick. Bar none. Morley has rarely written a more emotive ballad.
Taking his time to thank fans for their support of Bowes and name checking Taylor before launching into celebratory set closer Lola, Thunder’s accomplished six-stringer ensured this night that was never meant to happen was, in fact, a heart-warming night to remember.