I have family there. Hmmm…
Perfectly formed of course. Made by our friend Jamie for other fans to enjoy.
Fans of the greatest original multi platinum selling rock and roll outfit ‘The Darkness’ will travel and traverse the world over to get 90 minutes of pure “pants shitting” ecstasy. Interviewing several fans on the final night of the ‘Blast of our Kind Tour” of the USA leg, Jamie “Pyjamas” digs deep into the psyche of fans, asking the hard questions like, “how many times have you seen The Darkness” and gets a wildly varied array of answers from “never” to “twenty”. Digging deeper still, “Pyjamas” gains the trust of these super fans, who, without hesitation, tell her, where they live and their last names. Some have crashed open their piggy banks, called in a sick day, driven 24 hours with no sleep, all to see the rock and roll space vaudevillian act of the century. Dressed in slick new custom made threads and wielding pure rock force second to none, The Darkness live show cannot be understated. It is, without any doubt, the greatest live act ever, anyplace, any time. The fans can attest to this magnificence, and eagerly await entry to what will be one of, if not the greatest nights of their lives.
De La Soul have a new album out – ‘and the Anonymous Nobody’ – which should be good news for anyone, quite frankly.
Even lovelier news for Darkness fans is that Justin Hawkins features on the track ‘Lord Intended’ – it’s stupendous. Soaring all over the place, guitars and vocals – a gorgeous display of a song.
This is from De La Soul’s YouTube channel, and you can buy it on iTunes etc. Personally I’d get the whole album, because De La Soul are quite superb.
Venues are often places we rush in and out of with little thought of the story behind the place in which we spend a few hours listening, waiting, moshing, watching, laughing, rocking and generally having a good time. (Ok.. there are some ‘hope they stop playing soon’ gigs as well. Best not talk about those nights.) We look around to locate the important stuff like stage, toilet, bar and merch stall. Do we really care all that much about the place, or notice much? Probably not. One venue in Norwich, however, is a place worth investigating.
OPEN Norwich, on the corner of Bank Plain and London Street, was for many years a branch of Barclays bank. Old School in the extreme, it had high domed ceilings of white and gold plasterwork. The presence of cashier desks, glass and corporate logos was made insignificant by the splendour and size of the place – it was worth going in just for a look, and it was probably in some visitor guidebook, too.
In 2003, the building was bought by the Lind Trust, who established a Youth Forum. A need had been identified – the SOS bus facility (a seriously excellent thing) was available at weekends to support young people, but there was nothing during the week and that needed to be addressed. Two years later, charity status was awarded and in 2009 the current OPEN Youth Trust was formed. Every single penny of profit made goes to youth charities. OPEN provides early intervention of all kinds to over 4,000 youngsters using the drop-in facilities, supporting the next generation from ages 7-25.
OPEN hosts every sort of event you can imagine – art exhibits, musical workshops, shows of all sorts by young people, boxing, quizzes, lectures, book launches, drop in centre, recording facilities, dance studio, conferences, Body Art conventions, life skills courses, adult education, Christmas markets (a first this year) and awards nights. It is also registered as an exam centre. Several more new things are in the pipeline for next year, too. When I visited there was a weeklong dance workshop for kids going on. There’s a café, a climbing wall, ICT facilities and a wealth of access to advice and support. The vaults are also still in use – secure storage is a steady income.
Regular music events began back in March 2012, in a main hall holding 1400, with the more intimate and rather nice Club room holding 300. The range of music is pretty varied – London Grammar, Belle and Sebastian, Craig Charles’ funk night, jazz, Machinehead and a Queen Extravaganza. This month, The Darkness are welcomed – the fastest selling gig the venue has seen. Rick Lennox saw The Darkness in 2000 at The Barfly with 150 people, loved them, and has wanted to put them on ever since. It’s only days away…
At the time The Darkness’ tour was being mooted and promoters were ringing round venues for free diary dates, OPEN had a booking for the preferred Saturday night so Monday was arranged – the other booking then fell through, much to Rick’s annoyance – too late to change by then. Whilst tour itineraries are being finalised, the venues will hold dates as long as possible and chase if another enquiry comes in, but confirmation from the promoter can come in as early as the next day, so things can move very quickly. Dates for official announcements from the band and ticket sales are confirmed for release after the information goes on the band’s website. After that, the venue tech team will have liaised with the band’s production team, marketing will have sent the artwork and any posters, and the venue will have made sure as far as humanly possible that everyone knows where they should buy their tickets from.
OPEN itself is hired by the promoter, Live Nation, so there is no contract direct with the band. Rick is there to communicate, problem solve and make sure that everything runs smoothly (ie not letting Justin see the balconies). Which isn’t always as easy as it sounds…
This isn’t just an excellent venue. It’s a force for good in an increasingly bleak world for the young. If you’re there for The Darkness next week, stop, look around and think. Every venue has a story – some are helping the future happen, not just the now.
Many thanks are due to Rick Lennox and Hayley Gerrard at OPEN Norwich, whose help and time was much appreciated. Have a look at some photos they provided – it’s an amazing building!
Here we are – Christmas song in its original format. 😀
Those most excellent rockers The Darkness are offering you live streaming, party potential and a huuuuge prize just for sending in photos. It’s 1.30 am UK time (a few hours away) but if you miss it you have 5 days to see it.
Let’s hit the link and get down with masters of marvellously mucky rock regalers 😀
Whilst your attention is caught, can we interest you in some Darkness VIP tickets? Includes Meet and Greet, Q&A and soundcheck entry at US, Australia and UK gigs. Enter the code ‘optimumimpact’ at checkout for 25% discount. Well worth it. Trust me. Everyone who’s been so far is very very pleased with their purchase!
Here’s footage from the periscope stream I did – sorry there’s not more but my phone decided to eat the rest of it. The quality isn’t the best, and I’m trying to watch the game as well as stream it, but you’ll get the general idea! It’s not much help when the sun is reflecting off the screen so I can’t see what I’m actually filming, either. Anyway, enjoy. That goalie ain’t bad, you know…
Not content with including their fans’ vocals on the above track, The Darkness drafted in a few very lucky fans to make the video go with extra wiggles and plenty of groove. Watch the lads get upstaged a tad 🙂
The arrival of a new album from The Darkness will always bring something unexpected, no matter how much has been heard, seen live or written about it. It creates a little aura of mystery around the package that arrives on the doormat. As this is the first album produced by Dan Hawkins, it’s even more of an enigma. What have they done? How have they done it? Where’s the air guitar? WHAT THE… cor blimey, will you just listen to THIS…
There’s plenty of that last statement to go round. Open Fire (read more), and I can say that it fits in this album perfectly. Last Of Our Kind is a jigsaw – distinct and different pieces of a carefully fitted whole. Layered tracks – blended subtleties vying with bright rippling counterpoints, ridden by the usual virtuoso solos – are often driven by deep, heavy rhythms so solid you could break a chunk off and eat them. Some songs have gone over the wall of sound and are more of a 3D model of it. 70’s influences add to that sublety of contrast, especially where vocals belie the words. There’s no particular order to what follows:
Barbarian has oft been discussed. An East Anglian history lesson, it is crammed full of blood stirring primal war screams and dastardly deeds,probably destined to be a cult fan favourite forevermore. Open Fire is also much cherished already, offering just about everything the diehard craves with an alternative weave providing extra earworm potential.
The two most identifiably Darkness tracks (to the world outside fandom) are the current release – Hammer And Tongs (would it have been even more Darkness to spell it Tongues?) and Mudslide. The first is a joyful bouncy romp about the finer things in life, sexy in TD’s innocent yet earthy way. It’s a belter live, too. ‘Mudslide’, in comparison, is TD’s other forte – crazy, dirty rock to mosh your way round the room too. Or fall off your office chair to whilst headbanging. Ahem. You might almost expect to hear a ‘woof’ at the end.
Last of Our Kind is something that’s had unprecedented fan input, both with vocals and with a video that has yet to be seen. It deals with the inevitability of some kind of defeat but always fighting your defiant hardest – Darkness to a T. A comment on the vagaries of the music industry, perhaps? A choral, uplifting anthem to suit many of life’s situations, anyway. It’s Frankie Poullain’s favourite, if that helps…
Further on, Roaring Waters‘ soft vocals deceptively deliver some pretty brutal lyrics over a hard musical throb. Don’t be lulled – it’s metal, not a wander through some nice sharp riffs. In complete contrast, Wheels Of The Machine is the closest The Darkness have come yet to a straight love song, but with a hint of trademark fearful doubt in it. Brightness pulses through rockily dreamy almost ballad. That brightness shared with Sarah O’Sarah, which spangles at the beginning and continues with that pop singalong good time feel hook. Watch out for those lyrics again, though. Well–honed anxiety bubbles through a dogged determination to carry on in the face of perceived pending disaster. Ending on a plaintive note, it leaves a feeling that defeat has been snatched from the jaws of love victory, despite everything – it’ll get you, if it’s played live acoustically.
Conquerors – the last track – is sung by Frankie. It’s a very welcome surprise
for fans of the coolest pirate bassist on the planet. The persuading and arm twisting done to accomplish this was very much well worth it. Frankie’s soft speaking voice gives no hint of the throaty vocals on this track – a little growl and a sting of contempt thrown in for good measure. It’s as slow and serious as a rock ballad, but heaven help you if you’re ever the cause of these words. Whatever has been conquered may or may not of been worth holding on to, maybe? It’s all in the delivery. Nailed.
Finally, here’s the glory. In one song, The Darkness combined Abba, Queen and pure heavy rock to produce an almost elegiac masterpiece. Flicking from tempo to tempo, between genres so fast they blur, Mighty Wings is stupendously flamboyant yet tightly controlled – not a note of any kind is wasted on the operatic flight through octaves. ‘Soaring’ doesn’t cut it – satellite technology is needed to catch the outer reaches of Justin’s vocals. Whatever his voice has been eating, it works. Effortlesserer than usual, by far.
This is an album with a concept – stories of pillage and plunder instantly to the fore. This ain’t no re-enactment, though. Pain is the main impression, whether ancient or modern, physical or mental, real or feared, communal or deeply intimate. It’s the reactions to it that vary wildly in treatment and timbre. The Darkness go much deeper than ever they have into emotional crises and cris du coeur, with a hefty dose of death and sex to round it out. Mixed with outrageous riffs and balanced with Mudslides, they still manage to uplift and encourage. Neat trick. Listen attentively, because as the band have said, they’re the ‘gift that keeps on giving’. Delve as much as you like, there are little discoveries to be made from all angles and at odd times. Everyone has a relationship with certain songs, so there a whole lot of new couplings to be formed over the next few weeks.
There is a certain amount of frisson gained from being a Darkness fan, as the unexpected (good or otherwise) happens at regular enough intervals to be normal. The tension of waiting for the next one to arrive causes a somewhat masochistic pleasure on occasion. There’s no need to beat yourself up unless you really want to… Last Of Our Kind is a very good Darkness album indeed. Better than both Hot Cakes and One Way Ticket… in terms of depth and breadth, never mind style and delivery. There’s so much to explore and say about it that 1000 words is not enough – you can paint your own picture of what it suggests to you.
There are few bands who offer solace, social commentary and sober reflection all at once, but Pop Will Eat Itself manage to do so with polished aplomb with their new album Anti-Nasty League.
Solace is maybe an odd choice of word, but it comes to me in several forms. There is the comfort of intelligently vocalised shared views with which to identify. There’s a power current of gloriously blended chaotic sound which will strip away your tensions and affirm your belief in right. Not least, there’s the welcome visit from long admired musicians who believe in what they say and how they say it.
Whatever the society Nasty you dislike most, PWEI combat it in this album with humour sly and dry. Lyrics with a needle sharp point may leave you breathless, but they will make you consider whether you already agree or not. ’21st Century Civil War’ sets the tone with an anthemic list of bigotries and elitisms guaranteed to stir the blood. ‘They Can’t Take (What You Won’t Let ‘Em Have)’ continues the message for a crowd that will be moshing within seconds. ‘Middle East Street Party’s dig at the puppet masters of corporate globalisation is perfectly aimed and balanced. ‘Watch The Bitch Blow’ from the EP will leave you in little doubt of political leanings. You’re assaulted by sound as much as the lyrical target is assaulted by beautifully worded disdainful contempt – always a strength.
The words are backed by the relentless synergetic communion of samples and instruments – as relentless as the sentiments ‘Digital Meltdown’ is head banging heaven, whilst Mental Pollution becomes hypnotic in the treatment of the vocals. Here and there those vocals lend a calm surreal counterpoint to the music – ‘(War Inside) My Stupid Head’ and poignancy to ‘Set Sail for Death’. ‘Sacrifice and Pain’ has a Kinks/Small Faces influence, with an intro that made me smile – that’s as near as you’ll get to a PWEI ballad. ‘King Kisser’ is the one that struck me most for its change of mood, and if you want a brilliantly evil song for an earworm, ‘Director’s Cut’ is going to do all sorts of things to your memory banks.
PWEI, for the uninitiated, have a history of the highest calibre, which has morphed and turned over the years from 80’s pop grebo to combine more genres and influences, lives and experiences, technology and reality. They’ve never been purely political, but always keenly relevant to music and issues.
So… drown yourself in politics, observations, and fathoms of sound, and retune your social crusade soul. You’ll have fun while the bits of you shrivelled by the world finally die and drop off.
And come to some gigs this month. They are WELL worth it.
This statement released in the last few minutes from The Darkness:
“…sad to say our fantastic drummer Emily Dolan Davies is leaving for new projects, and so we part ways with fond farewells. Emily played a huge part in the recording of our new album ‘Last of Our Kind’ and makes a final appearance in the video for our single ‘Open Fire’ which is coming to a screen near you soon … Good luck Emily!”
Indeed, good luck.
And… new drummer search starts/has started/is in progress/nearly over. Delete as applicable, I don’t know which is truest.
The Darkness have today released their first single from the album Last Of Our Kind, due out on 1st June this year. The recent issue of ‘Barbarian’ was described as an ‘amuse-bouche’ which indeed it is. It has whetted untold appetites in different ways, to the detriment of several thousand pairs of undercrackers and a few chairs.
None of that quite prepared us for ‘Open Fire‘, though. A 13 second burst of intro at the weekend created a buzz loud enough to set off alarms at Monsanto’s head office. All Culty and jangly, it promised very many things of the whole.
We’re delivered a bit of an epic musicmeld. Guitars weave over and under each other, both driving and sparkling across the surface of dark rhythms to provide a classic and more alternative rock synergy. One moment there’s a little bit of indie, the next, adding full on glam, and then, the rockest of solos – it works. They sit and create together like the oldest of friends, giving and taking prominence. Bursts of bright riff fireworks explode every now and again, setting up and enhancing searchlight strength solos. These vocals are not those of Darkness stereotype, though there are moments of finely controlled rock scream. They are lower, different to the extent that Justin’s involvement was questioned, but it is undoubtedly him. The breadth of range and ease with which Justin sings drips versatility and hints at still more unknown vocal powers to come on this album.
We have what looks like a love song – who doesn’t want a hug on a sheepskin rug before an open fire? – but listen. It’s not light and sequins and glass slippers. It’s desperately but willingly holding on to what you have, in the face of what there is without it, and knowing that even that last bastion could destroy you. Opening fire on a heart already damaged almost to oblivion might give bliss, mercy or horror. Take your pick, depending on your mood.
The Darkness do ‘almost love songs’ very well. Just look out for the bite.
When all was revealed today, there was the obligatory ‘shhh, listening hard’ silence – for a few seconds. Impossible to keep up. First the foot, then the air guitar (what’s it called when you sing it, not airplay it?), first chorus joined in (badly), the odd WAAAAH when deemed necessary, and a full throated warble of any available chorus note and lyric after that. By the end of the first 4 minute round, I was exhausted, because I haven’t mentioned the dancing. You can’t help dance to this. It’s infectious, as Darkness songs so often are, but containing many more infections. It’ll getcha, one way or another. Embracing the darkness is quite easy.
A final note, on Emily Dolan Davies – she has captured the hearts and loyalty of fans during the Eire tour just finished. The Darkness were wise not to replace Ed Graham with like for like, for many reasons – it just wouldn’t have been ‘right’. Emily has a different influence within the Darkness sphere and a different place with the fans. Memories remain intact with us, and the present and future is emerging to shine in her own unshadowed light.
Talk about Manic Monday… Today saw the release of The Darkness’ new single ‘Barbarian’. Vikings, legends, battle and gore are all in it, with an animated comic book video drawn by Nick Roche and animated by Phillis. Pause it frame by frame to scan the detail for fan and band references, or just to chuckle at the gloriously serious ridiculousness of it all. It’s The Darkness video at its best. Make sure all your friends see it too, or this week will be a lot duller.
Those of you who ordered a calendar will know that the project met with unsurmountable difficulties out of our control, and has been postponed until the end of this year.
I can announce that despite this, there were some very generous offers from fans to donate the money that had already been paid for orders. Thank you wholeheartedly for being so kind. The total given was £240.50. It was split equally between Teenage Cancer Trust and The Sophie Lancaster Foundation and paid over.
Refunds have also been made and left the bank, so all is in PayPal’s hands if you haven’t had yours yet.
Many thanks again for everyone’s support, donations, and the preorders I’ve already had for the 2016 calendar!
Pre-orders are now being taken for this long anticipated, gorgeous Calendar – created by fans, for fans. Here’s a preview of the awesomeness…
To pay simply click on the links to PayPal in the pricing information below. Pay the amount shown for your location in GBP using the ‘Send to a Friend’ function and the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure the following details are in the message box:
- Email Subject: Calendar Order
- Full postal address
- Paypal receipt ID
- How many you want!
This will ensure that ALL the money goes towards costs and the charities – Teenage Cancer Trust and The Sophie Lancaster Foundation. Thanks to all those who have contributed, helped, listened and encouraged, and to The Darkness (as always!) because they rock in so many ways. If you’d like more than one, please enquire about the postage costs as the weight bandings are different in each location.
Please email any queries to email@example.com.
The excitement starts here!
TOUR ANNOUNCEMENT – THE DARKNESS IRELAND 2015 – ACCESS ALL EIRE:
That’s right – we’re taking off to the green lands of wonderful Ireland, the place where a lot of the material for our forthcoming album was written or completed. We’re doing intimate venues to cater for our hardcore fans so contact your local venue directly to obtain tickets as they will sell very fast. – most tickets will go on sale today / tomorrow.
Fri 6th March – Spirit Store Dundalk
Sat 7th March – Nerve Centre Derry
Sun 8th March – Whelans Dublin
Fri 13th March – Monroes Live Galway
Sat 14th March – Dolans Warehouse Limerick
Sun 15th March – Bridge House Tullamore
The Darkness today announced via Classic Rock that their new drummer, replacing founding member Ed Graham, is to be Emily Dolan Davies.
Emily has a long drumming career already in the bag, starting to gig at the age of 11. She began professionally in 2008, and seems not to have left the road for very long since then. Her varied CV shows that she has played a huge range of styles with a similarly diverse set of artists – Bono, Brian Ferry, Flood, Tony Kaye, Damien Hirst, Tricky, Emilia Mitiku, Cher Lloyd, Janet Devlin, Becky Hill and Tom Bailey.
The last few years have been incredibly busy touring and recording – let’s hope that it stays that way with The Darkness!
Welcome in, Emily. We look forward to hearing and seeing you soon.
For more Emily Dolan Davies information, videos and audio, see these links:
This deserves more exposure!
Once upon a Christmas 2004, a 2005 calendar featuring The Darkness was released. Ten years ago. Coincidentally, Optimum Impact was formed ten years ago too, and I think we were on our third issue by then. I decided that to mark these occasions it was only fair to ‘give’ everyone an OI birthday present…
There will be a 2015 calendar featuring The Darkness once again. All profits will go to charity – half to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation and half to the Teenage Cancer Trust. Hopefully you’ll want one?
As to the contents… I can’t just put my own live photos in, and I’d really like you to be a part of it. If you want to contribute, please could you choose no more than 4 of your best live action images and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible so that choosing the final 12 can be done. Watermark them, too, so you get credit! That way, this calendar can truly be created by fans for fans as a thing to keep. The front cover will be a work of splendour but I cannot reveal it because I haven’t seen it yet! More to follow on that. STOP PRESS! Analia, of The Darkness Argentina fame, has agreed to create the front cover. OI is honoured!
If you could comment on here, tweet, or like the Facebook post that appears, I’ll get an idea of numbers. Costs will be £10 plus p&p, and details on how to pay will follow. Help me make this fabulous, plus make lots of money for two brilliant causes.
Please note that this calendar IS unofficial. The Darkness and the charities are not involved in the conception or organisation. It’s just me and all of you…