Live at Oporto, Leeds 26th Feb 2020
It has to be noted that Oporto in Leeds is a black hole for bands. Unless they are local, I have never seen their tiny gig room full. I don’t think it’s on Leeds gig-goers’ radars and I feel sympathy for any touring band that books in there. Thumper had the honour of playing to less than twenty people, less than support band, The Astrids, who, being local, had their friends there. It is dispiriting for a band and whilst I could see Thumper’s attack and charm, they didn’t have an excited crowd to bounce off. Given the YouTube footage of them, they must have found that a bit of a shock.
The band ploughed on, indulging themselves with perching on the stage edge, on speakers, even leaving a guitar on the floor and turning it up to play itself. Their brand of classic pop-punk was proudly on display, with every second song having a big hook and their gift for melody shining through the volume and ferocity. With six members on stage, it was crowded but the two drummers kept up a serious speedy groove and the bass added propulsion. The wall of three guitars is a little unusual and alternating parts meant there was always a rhythm guitar or two, and someone playing a hook or some angular figure. Chief engineer of interesting guitar noises was Alan, with his ginger dreadlocks.
I was surprised they have an hour of material (and it doesn’t wear thin) but then, they are happy to extend a groove when its a good one. One of their USPs is their front man, Oisin. Not only does he have a modern version of the Bono mullet, but the shares the confidence and strut of U2’s front man from back in the day. The act was one of buzzsaw pop melodies, punk attack and the feel of bands like Ash and Green Day. It’s a great formula and who doesn’t like a three chord pop thrash played at maximum volume? Tied up with the sense of a band willing to have a good time and a couple of confident frontmen, Thumper are a travelling good time.
There was no danger of a moshpit, but if they’d played somewhere where the regulars actually checked the listings, the place would have been busy. The legs and heads of those present were shaking and a few were drawn in from the bar – add a normal sized crowd and things would easily get nicely lairy.