Justin Hawkins has opened up his Patreon today – visit his page to see what wonderful things are on offer. I think there’s something for everyone on there! There is a growing collection of fans on there already, so this could well be a big part of the TD community. Let’s go!
The lovely Live ‘Heart Explodes’ video has been released and is indeed a fine rendition of an excellent tune.
More brilliant news – The Darkness are playing two sets on tour. One of Easter Is Cancelled in its entirety, one of firm favourites/hits/can’t do withouts.
Look forward to seeing you all on that tour!
Released today – the first single from the forthcoming album ‘Easter Is Cancelled’ by the most excellent and high rock stars The Darkness.
My word. All of the band’s talents in a few fantastic minutes. The vocals, the riffs, the delicate touches, the full on blast of sound from 6 – 11 in a heartbeat.
The video gives you suavity, elegance, hair, eyebrows and fantastic wardrobe choices in every single second – layers of each are distinct and varying to everyone’s taste. It’s a treat for your eyeballs and if you’re not laughing with half your clothes missing by the end, try again.
A sure, steady thumping bass welcome to Pinewood Smile is a goosebumpingly familiar and comforting preface to the expected and equally comforting explosion of vocals and guitar. Welcome in, indeed. The curtains snap open on the fifth album from The Darkness, leaving little doubt about the players on this musical stage. A little siren wail demands complete attention to the smallest detail of the show.
Curtains open, a plethora of scenes unfold. Emotions run from the joyous to perplexed, from sensuous to apoplectic, self-doubt to confidence and several in between – often in the one song. One should never ever take a Darkness song at face value. The music willfully belies the lyrics at times, and the lyrics bite as well as lift and soothe. A ballad as sweetly rendered as ‘Why Don’t The Beautiful Cry?’ lulls, but beauty and ugliness are not always straightforward. ‘Japanese Prisoner of Love’ is a rollocking rock romp, ending in choral and chord bliss, but who else would include Klaus in singalong opera? Bared souls meet bared arseholes (of all types) in this anthology of poetry.
Plots the long-term and acquainted alike will grasp securely are revealed by ‘All The Pretty Girls’, ‘Solid Gold’ and ‘Southern Trains’. ‘Solid Gold’ holds that glorious ‘fuck you’ attitude long held by the band towards a good many things, and here again for the Industry. The word ‘repertoire’ has probably not before sounded so much like ‘repeat twat’. The song has become a fan favourite already because it’s damn catchy, damn sweary, and because fans of The Darkness were at the ‘fuck you’ stage before their collision with the band. Or, they’ve achieved it on the journey. Speaking of journeys, ‘Southern Trains’ gives a much deserved smack to the gonads of a hated British ‘travel’ stalwart. ‘Up Yours’ style in the unlikely protest medium of impeccable heavy rock works rather well. I don’t know if The Darkness thought it would attract so much press, but the tabloids and broadsheets alike have paid it due attention at an opportune moment. ‘All The Pretty Girls’ is a fine mix of bewilderment at the choice of companionship available and sharp acknowledgement of the reasons.
‘Lay Down With Me, Barbara’ – a beautifully sensual, finely observed bundle of easy listening and tenderness coupled with the actual world – as always, Darkness lyrics anchor their higher ideals to normality in oddly endearing and relatable ways. ‘Happiness’ stomps rockness through and over 60’s harmony pop with the effect of both on your feet, endorphins and voice. ‘I Wish I Was In Heaven’ is born to make a jumping gig crowd the Heaven of choice – With You, naturally. ‘Stampede of Love’’s country blues touches butter up for a stonking firework display of sound. ‘Buccaneers of Hispaniola’ adds a touch of piracy to the proceedings with cheerful headbanging swashbuckling. That would be a catsuit and a half…
The music, either blasting or rippling as the vignettes unravel, is an unveiling. The Darkness have always been very very good at what they do. This is, though, a step forward in many respects. The production of harmonies and instrument layering are intense and almost orchestral in their own right. Justin’s voice has strengthened in the mid ranges without losing the impact of his gorgeously decadent forays into the upper reaches of the rock register. On the first album since his joining, Rufus stamps his presence and influence with assured drumming, on equal terms with the exceptional riffs and solos ripped from Dan and Justin’s guitars, and the deep booming pleasure paths wrought from Frankie’s bass.
The familiar and signature sound is here, both instrument and vocal, with a sureness that was certainly not absent before but now more explicit. Confidence heralded the weaving of other styles and tempos to create something wholly but sometimes differently Darkness. Full appreciation of the myriad deft touches will not come instantly, regardless of whether it’s love at first track listen or not. Those softer, slower interludes are a beauty in their own right, creating tales of their own in the midst of full on Darkness.
The telling of dramas is a masters’ craft of varied interpretation and performance where words alone will never suffice. What have The Darkness ever done but create vivid multimedia, multisensual miniatures of humanity?
Apart, of course, from rocking the bollocks off everyone and thing they come across.
Pinewood Smile is available from www.thedarknesslive.com. Ireland, Europe, UK and US tour dates announced.
It just keeps on coming! Totally different from the All The Pretty Girls video we’ve just had, but full of stage action, Marshalls, gold and some lovely Dan dancing. Everything we do is ace, right?
The Darkness, telling it like it is
The Darkness are poised to obliterate the opposition again as they confirm their entry into this year’s Soccer Six mayhem and madness. Sunday September 17th, Mile End Stadium, London. It’s a great day out whether you like football or not – honest! The lads are pretty darn good, actually. Silky skills and a darn fine goalie. Find out more at Soccer Six Rock and get tickets here – it’s not expensive and definitely cheaper than the last one!
The single itself is enough to bring a smile to your lips and a boombadoo swing to your hips, but this video is rather addictive in its loveliness. There are plenty of gorgeous locations, sun, sea, spandex and a bit of silliness for excellent measure. Added to faraway looks, balls, tractors and an adorable dog, it covers just about everything, and your imagination can sill in the rest. The Darkness, looking good and sounding heck better.
Don’t miss this one!
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.