I saw The Darkness and it was great. But how I do I know? Well . . . because I was there. (One for the fans who have seen them live)
Slightly strange for a guy’s blog called the Mad Movie Ranter to be doing a music review. But hey let’s change things up. The review is a little late but alas, I suffered from the dreaded wintery man flu.
Full of cold and a mental week of work, the thought of seeing the Darkness was the last thing on my mind. A warm bed and Horlicks was more ideal (Lame. At 24?! I know). But I had bought the tickets months ago and my friends were already on the way to pick me up.
So glad I shook myself up. Absolutely brilliant. Perfect flu cure. Took a couple of days to get my hearing back. Good fun and a great laugh. The rock gods from Lowestoft are back and on fire. Conveniently, the lads were back at our local venue in Northampton, The Roadmender. A great venue that has had the pleasure of hosting such talents as Jamie T, Hadouken and The Wombats. (Probably not doing them justice with those examples, but first ones that came to mind. Make of that what you will).
Unfortunately missed one of the warm up acts, The River 68s but was able to listen to LostAlone. One to look out. Very good. They’ve been touring since 2007 with two albums already out there but if the new album is anything to go by with the new material that was performed, it should be pretty decent. Check out the single, Hostages.
As soon as the Lowestoft legends graced the stage, the tunes were unleashed and the chaos began. We were awarded with two sets – one covering a number of hits from the second and third albums respectively; some of my favourites One Way Ticket, She’s Just a Girl, Eddie and the incredible Radiohead cover, Street Spirit (Fade Out).
This was all before the legendary second set. That second set in which they would perform from start to finish in all its rock glory, PERMISSION TO LAND. Always will be their stand out album. Mixed reviews came thick and fast on One Way Ticket to Hell . . . and Back. But forever a grower and guilty pleasure for me. Come on, Dinner Lady Arms? A TUNE! Unfortunately, the band were not taking requests, gutted. But none the same, to hear PERMISSION TO LAND in its full live uncensored amp-induced, bass-floor-vibrating awesomeness was enough to suffice. I would list the hits but the whole album is incredible. Most notably Black Shuck, BLACK SHUCK, Get Your Hands off My Woman and I Believe in a Thing Called Love.
The big build ups between the sets were hilarious. From Ed Graham’s hugely anticipated drum solo (hint, hint) to the majestic summoning of the triangle, it was like something out of This is Spinal Tap. Cheap joke, maybe but funny all the same. What may have been drawn out slightly, (although I think the band were trying to catch a breath), was the listing of the number of awards and record sales. Egotistical? Showing off? Absolutely. But you can’t help but think did they really achieve all this? It hurts when people say it must be a fall from grace to be at the Roadmender.
The Darkness are back, alive and kicking. Their lyrics and songs were never going to change the world but their rifts were rocking and the lyrics hysterical. Growing on Me, for example, being a song about herpes. Something I didn’t realise, naively singing out in public, until I was in my 20s. Give me a break they were out in 2003. 2003? That’s right. That long ago already.
It was great to see them back together. You could tell they were having fun. Dan Hawkins and Frankie Poullain nailing those rifts to perfection (Bows, “We’re not worthy”) and as for Mr Justin Hawkins. An entertainer to the end. At one point he made the bouncer carry on his shoulders and walk around the audience while playing a guitar solo. He’s not afraid to banter with the fans and the crowd pumped.
Some would say twat, I say hilarious but Hawkins does not hold back, most notably on his views on new music. He really doesn’t like Bastille (which I admit I do. Rhythm of the Night is a great cover, but overplayed) and poor old Ellie Goulding. Hawkin’s impression was too good, not to smile. Apparently, new music is bad acoustics, a tap of a drum and weird accents. Apparently.
Hawkins may be a menace to work with, which past endeavours led to the band’s inevitable split, but one thing that can’t be knocked is his showmanship, energy and that voice. How can that tattooed, six foot lanky nutter from Lowestoft with his Dickensian villain moustache have such a powerful voice that runs in the vein of the great that is Freddie Mercury? Brilliant. Showing it off at every instance, goading the audience into mimicking him, only for us to fall short. Believe me, I tried.
And of course, the finale. How could they not finish it with Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End) with a big old Christmas tree with an angel on top, wearing the face mask of the bass player, Richie Edwards, who replaced Frankie Poullian for One Way Ticket. Nice tribute. Oh and of course, a fat bald bloke throwing presents in a fairy dress, whilst the band rocked out in their Christmas clobber. Christmas well and truly in flow. A great show, good night, not even the six foot knob head in his Crocodile Dundee hat obstructing my view and trying to mosh with me could spoil it. (Wherever I stand, I get the six foot arse! I’m only five foot. A bloody hobbit. And the hat? You’re inside. TAKE IT OFF. RANT OVER! But like I said, didn’t spoil it, nope).
One (one bit too snazzy for a rock review) can only hope they will return shortly with a possible new fourth album? Rumour are circulating and a new single has been released, The Horn. We shall see but get your hands on some tickets motherrrfffuuucckeeeeerrrs (in operatic testicle-squeezing high pitchness).