The story of The Darkness, led by charismatic frontman Justin Hawkins is one which has been told a million times before. A tale of glory and excess followed by rehab, crashing, burning and then some. However, it’s easy to forget amongst this that for a number of years in between, The Darkness were the biggest band in the UK. Since their reunion in 2011, the band have remained trouble-free and this year released sixth album ‘Easter Is Cancelled’.
It is from their latest release that the entirety of the first set consists. A bold move, considering the record has been out for less than six months, but they initially pull it off. The opening ‘Rock & Roll Deserves To Die’ sees the band enter the stage dressed all in white with frontman Hawkins singing the first verse from side of stage, before making the kind of grandiose entrance he is renowned for and leaps onto the stage to join his bandmates. ‘How Can I Lose Your Love’ and ‘Live ‘Til I Die’ which follow are classic Darkness, with the band losing none of their classic rock sheen.
It is from the self-induglent dirge of ‘Deck Chair’ that only the most dedicated of Darkness fans do not begin to lose interest. ‘Heavy Metal Lover’ is a bizarre ride of a song, which inexplicably features animated cows on the backdrop, before breaking into metal interludes and ending with guitarist Dan Hawkins going full Fred Durst rap-rock and taking the lead on one final mindfuck. By the time the band complete the album with the tame ‘We Are The Guitar Men’, which is performed by Justin Hawkins solo, he is almost drowned out by the bored voices talking over him.
Following a swift costume change, bassist Frankie Poullain enters the stage and commences the second set by beating a cowbell (obviously) as the rest of the band join him (with Justin Hawkins in a festive red catsuit) for a rousing ‘One Way Ticket’. In playing a set of hits, this is where The Darkness are truly at home, and early singles ‘Love Is Only A Feeling’ and ‘Givin’ Up’ remain as fresh as ever, with the latter sounding even meatier sixteen years after its release with the Hawkins brothers swapping solos at will as the crowd howls back the insanely catchy refrain of “givin’ up, givin’ up, givin’ a fuck”. The evening takes one final bizarre twist when the band take it upon themselves to perform a hair metal cover of Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’ interspersed with ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, which could definitely have been avoided.
The Darkness finish strongly with the main weapons in their arsenal. ‘Get Your Hands Off My Woman’ is played at a million miles an hour and frontman Hawkins is in his element, prancing round the stage before completing a headstand on the drum riser and clapping his legs together. Ending on ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’, the crowd goes absolutely berserk and the band respond in kind, delivering a performance of their biggest hit with the respect it deserves.
It, of course, wouldn’t be a Darkness gig in December without a rendition of their festive classic ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)’, and the band deliver in kind. The festive atmosphere threatens to be spoiled by Justin Hawkins’ diva-esque demands for everyone to put away their phones, individually calling out audience members and refusing to start the song until they comply, but when the song finally starts, it truly feels like Christmas has arrived in Glasgow.
The Darkness as a live entity is a whirwind through the good, the bizarre and the nonsensical. Frontman Justin Hawkins still demands attention like always, with the rest of his band happy to play a supporting cast, and while the self-indulgence threatens to derail the show at points this evening, there are plenty of highlights and hits to send punters home happy.
Photo gallery of the gig is in the link below. All photos courtesy of Stewart Fullerton Photography:
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