For the snarky set, it’s easy to mock the world of tribute bands and the tribute fans. That is, until the snarky set has had enough to drink and happens to find themselves at, say, a Hells Belles (AC/DC) or Appetite for Destruction (G ‘n’ R) show. Headbanging ensues, horns are held high and memories of high school keg parties are as fresh as the day you stole the Appetite cassette from so-and-so’s red Ford pickup at the Strawberry Festival Hall.
A devil’s advocate might say that the musicians giving tribute often perform better than the original artists. Makes sense. I’ve heard bands play the crud out of Metallica’s Master of Puppets; Metallica hasn’t done that in 15 years, at least. Undoubtedly, there are Bob Dylan tributeers out there who have a pretty low bar to reach these days. However, it’s one thing to cover a band’s tune and quite another to mimic the band: the look, the patter, the winks and nods to legendary past performances. That’s what Thunder Road does.
The shoes they’ve chosen to fill are The Boss’s, and they fill them with New Jersey-born Josh Tanner performing as Bruce Springsteen. The San Diego-based group began playing because Springsteen and the E Street Band haven’t performed in their part of the world in nearly 30 years. Thunder Road includes 1977 UM School of Law grad John Farmer on lead guitar. Apparently he has remedied the dangerous lack of “Tenth Avenue Freezeout” covers for the legions of diehards in San Diego. Although the band focuses on the oldies and goodies, they cover some newer material as well.
After watching a few YouTube clips of the Thunder in action, one can see that Tanner has the moves down. He shakes his hips like Bruce. He holds his Tele neck in the air like Bruce, and most importantly, he sounds like Bruce. The likelihood of The Boss playing Missoula in the next 30 years is slim, may as well check out the next best thing.
WHO: Thunder Road, Bruce Springsteen tribute band
WHAT: Pre-Homecoming concert
WHERE: The Dennison Theatre on the University of Montana campus
WHEN: Fri., Sept. 14, at 8 PM
HOW MUCH: $20, tickets available at Griztix outlets