Tag Archives: Live Reviews
This time last year, The Darkness were ready, willing and able to go and give bits of the world a few pieces of Dark to hold on to and cherish. Fresh from 2011′s November UK comeback tour, with a host of new songs and the promise of an album, the plan appeared to be ‘Let’s go strike them whilst the iron’s hot. They’ll never know which direction we struck from, but they WILL remember who hit them’. And so it came to be. America was gloriously stunned by the Samsung commercial, beautifully placed in a prime Superbowl ad break. It was also stunned by several stupendous gigs, over the year and across the states. The Antipodes got their share of the glory and are still Tiswassed by the whole thing too. Festivals were rocked, countries graced, and plenty of headbanging done. Here in the UK we had Thetford and Glasgow as headliners, but we are biding our time.
Video poured from the screens, as Every Inch, Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us and Everybody Have A Good Time were all released and created stirs across Darkworld and beyond. Clever animations and damn bizarre storylines gave things to admire and laugh at in equal measure. Plenty of little snippets of video from on the road were most welcome, too. Music both soothed and lashed the ear with the finest riffs and accomplished vocals. One thing The Darkness never got any grief for is lyrics – they remain as eloquent as ever with the gift of saying a lot with a few finely twisted words.
Finally, the album came. One fine day in August was amongst the finest in 7 years. August was full of excitement, plaudits, fan bundles, apps, tshirts and stickers. And noise! Favourite track choosing is still a minefield, so personally I’ve largely given up trying to choose. Why bother when there are more important things? Like.. which order will they come in, on random? Which is the track that suits the day? That’s an easier choice. Hot Cakes belongs on those ‘Best of 2012′ lists.
As the main thrust of The Darkness’ year was sent on its way, The Darkness were also being thrust forward. The real big shock of the year was their support slot on Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball world extravaganza – or a good part of it. Since the beginning of August until December they were out on the road playing to tens of thousands every night. It seemed like a travesty to some, but it would have been a travesty had they not done this. I saw two of the gigs, and they were superb. The Darkness were perfect for their slot. The crowds were responsive – in some areas, mental! and took to the rock in front of them like ducks to water. It was a great feeling to see another, entirely different, artist’s fans singing and dancing to your own favourite band. Pretty damn fine to see them wowing huge crowds. I’m not a fan of big stadium gigs, or of seeing The Darkness in daylight, but I couldn’t fault their performances in those arenas to those fans. I’m glad that so many fans got to see them in places that they won’t or can’t visit as headliners for some time, and their comments showed their own delight.
Tonight, a new year’s work starts in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. From now until April, there’s another long road across 3 continents to cart 4 men what do rock, some guitary things, many big speakers, lots and lots of wires, and some other fine men who know what to do with it all. Let Them Eat Cakes is ON (I like mine with lemon and sugar, please). Good luck, and may your tourbus WiFi never fail.
A little time has passed since my ears were last beautifully dirtied by the nice people of O.W.L.S. , so this night out was well anticipated. A four-band dose of live music is not to be sniffled at in any event, but when it features this band, the night’s going to be a good one. Even if I had lost myself, my nose ring and my oyster card in the 400 yards between tube station and venue…
First up were Evacuees, just after I got there. Perfectly reasonable band, reminded me a little of Glasvegas. Can’t say they hit me where it hurts, but that’s not to say they weren’t any good – just maybe I was nattering too much.
Next were Zodiac N Black. Before they came on, I was told they were well worth watching, and Mr Macfarlaine’s words are usually to be heeded on these subjects. Off my bum and into the crowd… Well, of course he was right. They rock like heck, with energy and aplomb, and are REALLY GOOD. What more do you want me to say? They know perfectly well what they’re doing musically and venues definitely need to be filled with their metalling. A little video… and more details at the bottom.
That’s the better quality of the vids – my camera is broken so filming done on the iPad – but see OI’s channel for the other.
A short break for vodka, guitar lead/cable/wire swaps and it’s time for O.W.L.S. I’ve described their approach to the cleanliness of sound before, and I can’t say that’s changed at all. Starting with Only Joking, we were straight into hardness. No pussyfooting around here (Toby’s footwear excepted)! Go To Your Happy Place is a singalong of dark proportions, Hurt Janine an oddly delightful, joyous thing, Vitamins and Kibosh as moshy and headbangy as I remember. She Can Open Doors is below. I just watched it without sound, accidentally, and the rocking still shines through.
The sound pouring forth was something with a harder edge than back in February, with a surer performance. This had more punk and more assurance. February was no means lacking anything, but after a longish break, such a great performance was brilliant. O.W.L.S are brilliant, in a darkly shining way.
Get your vinyl copy of double A-side single Hurt Janine/Vitamins as soon as you can, as it’s a strictly limited edition.
Velvet Star were on last. Hmm. Sorry… not my thing.
Let’s get everyone out there to see both O.W.L.S. and Zodian N Black. You can see the former on 9th Dec at Emma Scott Presents, The Flapper, Birmingham.
Twitter – @OWLSHQ @Zodiac_N_Black
(BTW, this is not officially Darkness-sanctioned! – Laurie)
Day 1 – Nashville, Tennessee, May 22
“Long-distance information , get me Nashville, Tennessee…” – Yup this is Music City, indeed! I have flown into town after a weekend in El Paso, TX and am ready to get my Darkness groove on. My friends Dre and Becca arrive at my hotel to get me for the road trip, and soon we’re off on a venue-finding mission and then off to our friend Patti’s house.
The gig is at an old auto manufacturing plant, hence the name Marathon Motor Works. We’ve taken quite a long time to socialize/have dinner/get ready, so we arrive while opening band Black Box Revelation is on. This is a two-man band from Brussels consisting of a singer/guitarist and drummer, and they are not Foxy Shazam, but they will do. Their songs are very White Stripes meet Led Zeppelin. My friend Leslie and her bestie Phil arrive late as well, and soon we are parked second row ready for THE DARKNESS!
I’m sorry, Nashville, but part of the crowd seemed like they were too cool for school. Even Justin had to coax them to make some noise by saying Dan wouldn’t play a note until they did, and the only time everyone seemed to let loose was for IBIATCL and the encore, which has been revised to Hazel Eyes and LOTR. But for us hardcore fans, this was a stellar show from the boys! They include a new song called “With A Woman,” and other set list changes were dropping Can’t Believe It’s Not Love/Out of This World, She’s Jut A Girl Eddie, Physical Sex and Bareback, and adding Every Inch of You and Everybody Have A Good Time. Justin’s dive into the crowd and crowd surfing prompted him to announce that someone had grabbed his testicles and any misshapen children would be named “Nash” (and Leslie, Dre and I happen to know the culprit! Hahaha!) Justin and Frankie also drop on bended knee to Dan as he plays on the riser at the end of Hazel Eyes, and that was new and fun to watch!
I know some really devoted TD fans who waited years for The Darkness to return to Nashville (Leslie, Tyler!) and they were not disappointed. I’m really happy that they got to meet the band afterwards. YAY! Frankie informs us that the band will be doing a photo shoot for Q magazine in New Orleans’ French Quarter, so be on the lookout for that, kids! Now it’s time to get back to Patti’s and wake up early for our drive to New Orleans.
Day 2 – New Orleans, Louisiana, May 23
Urgh. It’s raining as soon as we get outside of town, but luckily it all clears up by the time we get to the venue, which is the House of Blues. Dre, Becca and I meet up with Dori, Sam and Missy, and then it’s time to RAWK!!
It’s a no-brainer that New Orleans knows how to party, so the vibe is immediately electric and the band is awash in adoration from the get-go. The whole band seems to respond in kind and are just what can only be described as “on fire!” J I think this is one of my favorite gigs on both U.S. Tours this year. Justin opts not to crowd-dive this gig, but after his walkabout he decides to pose directly on the barrier and have fans help hold him steady during the sing-alongs on LOTR. Let’s just say some fans got a glimpse of him up close and personal!
We have a day off the next day, and enjoy the sounds and sights of New Orleans. We make a side stop at the Royal Orleans hotel, which Led Zep once wrote a song about on the album “Presence.” That was way cool and one of the workers there let us go to the rooftop pool and observation deck to check the city out. What service! Then it was time to hit the road once again. Quite disappointingly, the only alligators we saw were in the gator bites we had at a restaurant on Bourbon Street!
Day 3 – Austin, Texas, May 25
Why hello there, Texas! Austin also has a reputation for being a party city (this seems to be a trend!) AND it has a big music scene as well. The gig tonight is at a place called Stubb’s, which is a BBQ restaurant with an outdoor amphitheatre. We’ve not booked a hotel yet, so it’s straight to Stubb’s for some BBQ and drinks and waiting and waiting.
The radio station sponsoring the gig is having a meet and greet and three of our new friends are picked to go, and one of them wins a signed Epiphone guitar! Sweet! I also learn that Justin had asked the meet & greeters that if he climbed on the balcony, would they catch him if he jumped? I say I can totally see him doing that. We’ll see….
We and all of our new friends all score a place along the barrier, so we’re all happy. It’s hot and there is no breeze at all but that’s part of the fun. The opening band is an all-girl band called Girl In A Coma and they’re a pretty decent punk-ish band, but everybody wants THE DARKNESS! If I thought New Orleans was electric, Austin had them beat by a country mile. At least 15 people got thrown out for crowd surfing, and there was lots and lots of pogo jumping, and what can I say but it was a hell of a set!
The boys were dripping with sweat by the end of the first song, but it was oh-so-fun! Every Inch of You has become a fun song to rock to and scream “Suck my cock!” along with Justin. Concrete is easily my new favorite, though. There’s just something about that song performed live and in your face and makes me want to bang my head. There was a touching tribute to a friend of the band’s named Fred before LOTR, and Justin has since Tweeted asking if anyone has video of this tribute to let them know. I didn’t have video as my phone died, sorry lads! And Justin DID climb onto the balcony and dived into the crowd…not surfacing for long enough for one to think “Oh geez, I hope he’s okay!” before merrily popping up onto the crowd and crowd-surfing to the stage. Thank GOD!
Not only was it an awesome way to end my part of the tour (Dre and Becca went on to Dallas), but I also got to see THEE one and only Rock Blonde AKA Angie, and her new husband Bill. We’ve always known that Angie was spiritually Texan anyway, and it was great to see her so happy in her new home state of Texas, ya’ll! I’m also really happy that she and Bill ran into Justin outside of Stubb’s and they got to say hello to the lads, minus Ed J
I was supposed to have gone on to Rocklahoma and Dallas, but duty called and I had to return home. And just so you know, guys, my friends and I are NOT the only U.S. fans who hit more than one gig. There were quite a few people met on this tour who went to as many shows as they possibly could in February and May, and that speaks volumes to the dedication of fans who have waited 8 years to see you perform in our country again. Thank you, The Darkness, for returning once again to the good ol’ USA and we hope to see you again soon!
Recorded at three different 2011 festivals, this DVD and/or CD set is a memento of, an introduction to, and an ‘arse, I couldn’t make it to’ Motörhead’s live performances. With an 80,000 crowd quoted for Wacken, they’re not exactly small and insignificant ones, either. Wacken’s dominates, being the whole set, and by virtue of its production. The film isn’t in parts, the sound wavers a little – but it gives an accurate idea of what it’s like in a festival crowd and from stage. It’s real, just like it really was, and works for me. I’ve seen footage of gigs before and thought ‘it wasn’t like that at all’ so it’s rather refreshing to see something more honest. Reality gigging! It’s a long set in the rain for fans, but there are thousands throwing horns all the way through and their enthusiasm is unflagging. Opening with Iron Fist, there are 17 songs – Metropolis, One Night Stand, In The Name of Tragedy, Bomber, Ace of Spades and Overkill being just a few. It’s quite a thing to see, legends in action.
Both Sonisphere’s and Rock in Rio’s sets are much shorter, with much slicker film production. A good contrast, especially as Sonisphere’s set is in daylight, which seemed… unusual. Motörhead are a band for the dark, with afternoons a hidden, lost place – surely? It seems not! Both sets look and feel as good as Wacken’s, in a different way. Ste he could not have had. But let’s not get bogged down in video production details. Both approaches have a place, and show Motörhead’s performances in equally good lights. Good hard solid rock throughout, delivered without frills or fuss but with consummate ease. No pretence, no need of any. Sonisphere’s gig was the day after ex-member Wurzel’s death, as announced by Lemmy, so must have been rather a strange day for band and fans alike, but a greater tribute he could not have had. It was a good watch, and the CDs will make damn fine driving music on those dark rainy nights. Look out for the Festival Impressions W:O:A extra – it made me laugh, has lots of beer and a few interviews.
Watching HAS made me want to go and see them live, as I’ve never had the chance. So, job done! Oh, and I’ve fallen in love with that bass.
Out now, from the usual places.
The Chameleons are a band whose music has been closely woven in and out of my life since I started uni and first heard them, back in the mid-80′s. I’m not a fan that can get every single song title right, but I am one that can instantly recognise and sing along, one that leans back and let the sounds and words wash over and through me. I never got to see them back then, and until now, haven’t been able to get to the new lot of gigs. A trip to Leeds is always a pleasure, I’d never managed to get to the legendary Cockpit (after a swift date/venue change) before, and some much loved people were to be hugged in person at long last.
Thanks to travel on a Friday night from Norwich, we missed Vendemmian and Berlin Black who had both been and done by the time we arrived, sadly. But hey – time for a drink and hugs and finding a space to stand. The place is packed to the gills, hot, and ready to get sweaty. You could taste the anticipation. This is a crowd that really loves the band in a personal way, if not uncritically. It’s also Mark Burgess’ birthday, and the end of the tour. Party mode, from the start!
The good things began with no fanfare, but with authority and confidence. There are no new fans to win over, no suits to impress – just a time to play good music well, enjoy, celebrate the then and now. It’s not a retro retail reformation thing going on. It’s for real, and it’s a family atmosphere thing. The crowd is passionate but polite, of an age not to be selfish in its enjoyment. Naturally I cashed in a few of my nice lady brownie points and ended up easily at the front to be able to see. The Chameleons (now with added Vox) always seemed to me to be a band that held up to scrutiny, that deserved critical acclaim, and were solidly sure and true. Somewhat in awe, I watched, and wasn’t disappointed.
The songs sound less written than allowed to flow to the stage where sounds perfectly synergise and the current is strong enough to carry any emotion, any point of view (indeed, it carried the energetic mosh pit without any effort). When you’ve got a back catalogue as good as theirs, it does give you a head start, but really, they don’t need it. They don’t (actually) really need the love of the crowd to carry them through, either. They are simply GOOD. Very good. No faff, no gimmick, no nothing except excellent playing and a few comments from Mark.
A few songs later, an excursion into and through the moshpit, and I’m back where I started to stand and listen in stillness. I can’t see, so I’m not distracted. That’s when the brilliance of the writing is evident. It’s almost possible to listen in stillness AND silence, to let it touch you. It’s emotional musically and lyrically. Anger, despair, sadness, acceptance, defiance are odd bedfellows to produce a kind of rapture, but they do. When finally they get to my favourite (it’s a whole life favourite, not just of theirs) In Shreds, then it’s as though I’m the only one there. It’s a bleak, soulless picture that it paints to me, a deep cry against crushing loneliness and struggling to keep a sense of self worth (in my opinion, natch). The vocals sound lost, like shouting through a thick fog with little hope of being heard. It just catches me every damn time, and on that day, with all that’s gone on in recent times, it crashed in with force. Can you ask much more of a song than to make you cry with upset whilst filling you with elation? Beautiful but deadly.
Gigs come, and they go, but I’m glad I didn’t miss this one. It really was one for the memoirs.
The Darkness have been to America.
A very short statement for an event that meant such a lot to The Darkness’ and Darklings’ worlds! Not that long after a pretty brilliantly amazing tour in the UK and Ireland, a second tour with an identical lineup was announced for the US. Not a comprehensive tour, but with other commitments no doubt in place, it’s still pretty packed with as much ground covered as possible. Cue an eruption of American Darkling frenzy – and who can blame them? We’d felt the same here, and we’d already had our first taste of ‘what was’ morphing into ‘what will be’.
Staggered presales via a link only available on TD’s Facebook page went amazingly well, selling out in the majority of venues. That was mirrored by the general sale release – almost full sell out. Another New York date was added, and the last three dates announced extended the tour to the whole of Februrary, give or take. Fantastic news – well, to me it looks like a bloody good feat!
The excitement hit fever pitch. My ears are still ringing from cybercheers in some quarters. There are a LOT of people out there who have waited a very long time to see TD at all, and thought they had missed their chance. Once TD arrived, it was like the Pond didn’t exist, as a sound barrier, anyway. With a couple of new songs and a new stage outfit that added an awful amount of sex to the stars and stripes, there’s no way anyone could possibly say they were shortchanged. Supercharged is probably more accurate!
Reviews, comments and photos all point to one thing – that this was a special kinda tour for everyone., with all sorts of things happening. Hazel Eyes on the set list. The ace treasure hunts for tickets, held on Twitter. Justin’s dive into the crowd from the balcony (holy shit, Justin, I have problems looking down from balconies, never mind jumping!). The banter, the anecdotes, the joy of being plunged into Darkness. Could it have been better?
Not really. Not from fandom’s point of view. However, on Superbowl night, a different kind of glory came with an unexpected and very important event. In a Samsung phone advert, Justin appeared with a crowd, a choir and some chaos playing along to IBIATCL – right in the middle of the Superbowl. One of the most prestigious ad breaks in the US, with a worldwide captive audience. Fuck the PHONE, this was just about the most perfectly timed superb bit of PR/management brilliance EVER. In minutes, TD were worldwide trending, and had gone to the top of iTunes rock charts. This was a coup of monumental proportions, so deep curtsies all round to the team that clinched that one.
A few weeks filled with travel and gig frenzy and they came back to rest and plunge back into album work. Job partly done in America – not wholly, because since then more dates have been announced and tickets gone on sale. Round 2, anyone?
My thanks to all those who sent contributions to OI during the last tour. If there’s anyone else willing to do the same, drop me a line.
Day 1 – February 18, Las Vegas, NV, House of Blues
Welcome to the Sin-Sinniest City of them all, LAS VEGAS! On this tour with me are my Darklets, Rhyanne and Harrison, and friend Dori – you remember her from the NYC gig. We pulled into town the night before and Dori had flown in from New Jersey. Boy, were her arms tired! *rimshot*
The day of the gig, Ree decides she wants to ride the New York New York roller coaster that is just across the street from us. After much debate, I finally agree to ride with her and off we go through the casino to find the rollercoaster. I don’t know how many OI readers have been to Vegas, but these casinos are mahoosive, like little money-grubbing cities. Finally, we find the coaster entrance near an arcade. We’re standing around trying to figure out where to buy tickets and such when Dori turns around and says “There’s Frankie!”
Yes, it was Mr. Poullain, who was waiting for Mr. Justin Hawkins. So once we chit chat with him for a bit, we decide to wait to say hi to Justin too. He arrives and asks if we saw his tweet about riding the coaster and Dori told him we were already there! He was very nice and I gave him an “I heart moustaches” magnet I’d bought for him in the gift shop earlier, before we knew he’d be there. He liked it! So long story short, Ree and I rode in the rollercoaster two seats behind him. It was great fun, even though roller coasters are not my bag, baby!
Before we lined up, we saw Sky in line at Starbucks next door and we went to say hello as he waited for his green tea. Such a nice guy, he is! Saw the other Foxy band members and CJD guys come in as we waited for the gig.
The gig itself was fantastic! Although we found out the hard way that if you want to jump the line to the front, you had to buy $25 of food or merch from House of Blues and show the receipt. Crown Jewel’s songs are slowly growing on me, and Foxy was phenomenal as always.
It was awesome to hear Hazel Eyes, which was added to the Chicago gig thanks to fan requests! I think Cannonball was dropped , but it was pretty much the same setlist as New York. I saw Vinny Paul from Pantera up in the VIP booth watching the show. All in all, the crowd was enthusiastic and it was a stellar performance! Justin’s new onstage habit is picking people from out of the crowd and complimenting their appearance, and there was a contingent from the UK whom Justin gave a shout to as well. Las Vegas loved the boys!
We said hello to them after the show and got some pics, and they all signed my beaded medallion. It was Ree’s first time meeting them, but Harrison missed out. Dan and Ed didn’t seem too happy that Ree couldn’t get in because it was an 18+ venue and she wasn’t 18. Justin finally got to see Dori’s fabulous catsuit and he loved it! He told her not to wash it. We said we’d see them in Phoenix and off we went the next day.
Day 2 – February 19, Phoenix, Arizona, Celebrity Theatre
After traveling 6 hours (yes, we’re driving!) we reach Phoenix and check in. Lo and behold, there are other Darkness fans at the same hotel! We pulled in blasting “Bald” to get their attention and Harrison yells “Do you believe in a thing called love?!” We said hello to some lovely British ladies in the hotel lobby and one of our hotel neighbors is also going to the gig. Turns out later that Justin pointed him out in the crowd as having awesome facial hair!
The Celebrity Theatre is different because it’s what they call “in the round,” meaning it’s a round stage. But tonight’s gig is halfway blocked off, so it’s what Justin dubs “The Semi-Circle of Power!” It’s also quite odd that there is standing room in front of the stage and the performers are pretty much in your face if you’re lucky enough to be standing (which we were), but then there were seats behind the standing area so it must have been hard to see for the seated people immediately behind us.
I almost got tossed out because my camera was called “Professional” but after explaining that it’s not and I couldn’t return it to my car because we walked to the theatre, the security guys let me back in as long as I didn’t take video. So back to the front I go. The Crown Jewel guys are sounding better and better, and Foxy has an enthusiastic fan base here in the valley of the sun. My favorite part has to be when Sky keyboard surfs into the front rows and lets the fans pound the keys. The crowd is chanting “Foxy! Foxy! Foxy!” after they leave and I’m almost sure they’ll come back for an encore…no? Oh, okay.
The Darkness bounds onstage and the crowd noise is incredible! At first, Justin was dubious about the stage and asked “Does this make my arse look big?”, because the circle went halfway around Dan’s side of the stage and his rear was in view. Justin had great fun trying to see which side of the stage is louder during GYHOMW. The Semi-Circle of Power allows Dan to travel to the other side of the stage and solo a few times. During LOTRWNI Justin doesn’t get to do his walkabout because of the odd shape of the venue, so he opts for soloing down the middle corridor. I must say Phoenix was a brilliant gig and the crowd was up to 11!
Milled around after the show and again chatted with the guys from Foxy, CJD and TD. Harrison finally gets to meet TD! It’s fun watching my kids meet them, as they’ve been subjected to their music for 8 years and now they’re old enough to like TD on their own. Our new friends from the UK got to say hello as well (Sue, Liz and Terri and their other friend whose name escapes me – sorry!). We finally find someone with a silver Sharpie so Dori’s catsuit can be signed by the band. Since it was freezing cold out, we didn’t hang around long and then it was time to head back and rest up for L.A.
Day 3 – Los Angeles, California – House of Blues, Sunset Strip
L.A. is lovely this time of year, and as we enjoy dinner at HOB before the show (to get our fast passes), we hear sound check going on. Sweet!
Oh My Gee! So many people are here! My friend Julie, who I did a similar tour with in the UK in 2006, is here! And our friend Hannah too, who I haven’t seen in a few years! Another friend also arrives later and we ended up chatting with her and her son too. Good times! Sky and Daisy from Foxy come over to say hello to us – such nice guys!!
As for the gig, well….the band was rockin’ but let’s just say that I thought the some of the crowd was not as enthusiastic as Phoenix or even Vegas or New York. Dan’s guitar wasn’t working right during one song and the band played on while he switched out guitars, and Justin says “Now you know what we would sound like without Dan on guitar – we would SUCK!” Billy Duffy from the Cult was in the audience somewhere, Justin announced, and he said he was nervous because Billy was a hero of his. But on the upside, everyone who had never seen them before and those of us who HAD seen them before were happy campers with the band and the performance, and that’s what matters. Cheers for rocking the House of Blues!
They shoo us out fairly soon after the gig and after chatting with the CJD boys again, we decide to go for an early breakfast. This traveling stuff is quite wearying. After stopping at the famous Mel’s Diner on Sunset, it’s time to hit the hay – but not before we see Loren from Foxy outside the HOB and we say “HI LOREN!” J
Day 4 – Travel time!
But not after first having lunch at the famed Barney’s Beanery, which was a favorite spot of Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison, etc. After a quick stop at the Guitar Center on Sunset, we then go to the L.A. Fashion District to look at fabrics. Dori HAS to buy some purple leopard and red zebra print spandex! The plan had been to head back to San Diego and drop the kids off, but there’s not enough time and I have two extra tickets…..so off we all go to San Francisco!
Day 5 – February 21, The Fillmore, San Francisco
Well I must say this: After all the driving we’ve done, I respect bands so much more. Sometimes as fans, we forget all the effort they make traveling this gigantic land of ours by bus, then have to do a kick ass show, stay out late after the show meeting fans, unwinding, and then get up at ungodly hours like 5 am and do it all over again. My hat is off to CJD, Foxy and TD!
Thank God there’s no fast pass this time! We see the TD guys as they go into the venue and Justin pops back to say a quick hello and to make sure Dori hasn’t washed her catsuit! LOL! We make friends with the tall guy standing in front of us, and Liz from the UK joins us as we wait. We’re worried we won’t see Sky before the show – which has almost become a ritual! – when he, Alex and Daisy walk by and say hi. J And of course, our new CJD friends Taylor, Nick and Steve also say hello. Taylor tells us they have an upcoming UK headlining tour J Whoo hoo!
Well, the vibe in the Fillmore is electric! I tell Ree that LED ZEPPELIN played there and she wasn’t really that impressed. Teenagers! This is where it all happened…Led Zep, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane….it boggles the mind how much rich musical history is in that building. Luckily the stage is massive and has a huge barrier and we have no problem getting front row. We also discover through TD’s FB page that a special Fillmore poster has been created for the band (more on that later!) The picture was awesome!
You know it’s special when the crowd is getting worked up just singing along to the pre-show songs (and by the way guys, thanks for getting me hooked on “Guitar” by Prince!) and it’s even more exciting when TD tweet about how loud we are singing along to “Just What I Needed” by The Cars J Soon, CJD come on and rock the house! It’s even better when Taylor announces that it’s as close to a hometown gig as they’re going to get, since he’s from nearby Modesto, and the crowd lovingly embraces them from there.
There are some people that are there only to see Foxy Shazam, and they were not disappointed! What can I say about this band that hasn’t been said already, except that they are master showmen and musicians and they totally killed it! At the end, Foxy has left the crowd in awe and clamoring for more just like in Phoenix. WOW! Later on, Justin has asked the crowd to give it up for CJD and Foxy and backstage, they heard everyone chanting “Foxy! Foxy! Foxy!” The Darkness was happy to hear that, especially Justin, because Foxy is his favorite band.
When TD comes onstage, the crowd explodes and TD feeds off our energy. Justin points out our tall friend from the line outside as lovingly protecting his woman from the people behind them (which was really sweet!) and he dedicates GYHOMW to them. As the show progresses, a fine cloudlike haze has settled over the crowd and I’m quite sure it wasn’t from the dry ice machine! Justin remarks that he knows that we’ve been smoking Mary Jane’s Laughing Tobacco I can’t even point out highlights as it seemed every song was a highlight and it was over before we knew it. I do manage to catch Ed’s drumstick as it bounced off Harrison, but luckily it was gently tossed our way and didn’t cause any damage Some guy even offered me $10 for it, but I said no way! As Harrison and I leave to find Dori and Ree on the other side of the stage, happy concert-goers are singing and dancing along with “I Had The Time of My Life.” I love when that happens!
As we exit the best gig we’ve been to yet, the Fillmore hands everyone a print of said Fillmore poster. I’m having that framed! We hang out to say our goodbyes to CJD (and met Taylor’s mom and Grandma, how nice!) and then we finally get to say our goodbyes and thanks to TD before we leave the tour.
The Darkness is very thankful for the fans who have stuck around, as well as the new fans they are winning over. It’s really nice when they remark that they will miss seeing us in the front row and they don’t know what they’ll do without us the rest of the tour J We say we’ll see them somewhere here in May, and we have all our memorabilia and memories to carry us through til then.
My favorite onstage moments for all the gigs is the way the entire band is smiling, laughing and enjoying each other as a band again. Dan literally bounces as well as headbangs through a show, and of course Justin is bouncing, leaping, tossing plecs, posing, diving into crowds….anything we want to him do, he does. It’s pure unadulterated HAPPINESS making its presence known on this tour, as well as the show I went to in London. Another highlight for me is when Justin sings “Holding my Own” acoustically, and Dan is impishly in the background making the crowd do a hand wave along with the ballad. Every time the crowd sings along with the songs, or when Justin is making us make the most ridiculous noises during LOTRWNI, the fun is always there – and that my friends, is why I love this band so much – aside from the fact that they all rock so hard it must hurt.
I truly do thank the band for resurrecting all this wonderful music filled with good times, and based on audience reaction to the new songs, we have so much more to look forward to in the future. I’m not sure if I’ll do another road trip like that, but who knows? NOTHING’S GONNA STOP US NOW! J
A night eagerly awaited. A band containing both Toby Macfarlaine and Richie Edwards could only be a very good thing, in my opinion, and I know I’m not alone. Plenty of Stone Gods fans would agree that they belong in a band together, and Toby agrees – ‘I couldn’t think of anyone else I wanted to be in a band with more’. They already have years of writing and playing together under their belts, so this new venture should fit them like custom made gloves.
I listened to the demos on Soundcloud when they first came to light and liked what I heard, even in their rough state. A departure from what I know of them, but heavens, would it not be terribly dull if that wasn’t so? Can’t wait to hear it properly.
One emergency dash to the south coast done, a slight detour the wrong way round the train station, and finally I’m at the Prince Albert with about 10 minutes to spare. So ace to see so many familiar and well loved faces there! Only time for a quick swig of drink before strings are plucked and it’s time to get down the front and see what I’ve wanted to see for over 3 years now – Toby and Richie on a stage again, playing plugged in and turned up loud. There’s no way I was going to miss this. True to form, Richie is looking effortlessly Rock, whilst Toby manages to look both beautifully turned out and grungekid at the same time.
They don’t disappoint. They never have! From the first note, there was a nice dark dirty edge to the sound. I like that. I like feeling like I’ve had music pumped through me and that it’s left a little graze to be admired later. I really like watching good musicians who know how to do that, and who look like it’s happening to them, too. Have a bit of grunge rubbed on me? Oh yes. See that edge? It’s quite sharp, actually. Don’t miss it.
Mosh to Kibosh and Vitamins, dance to Hurt Janine, and do a bit of both to the rest of the setlist:
Leave A Light Over My Grave
One In The Chamber
In the end, I stopped trying to take photos and just enjoyed myself, listening to rock and grunge and indie elements swirling round each other, getting grubby and sweaty on the way before they crank up to full on soundload. No one who loves live music wants to hear disinfected, scrubbed notes on stage. What they want is the passion that makes a night memorable, a sound that’s great, and a little sting on their musical souls. Seems like O.W.L.S have just the talons to do just that.
Next gig: Love Buzz, London
I have added photos from the night from O.W.L.S Facebook to the Gallery, with permission.
Here’s a bit of video:
By Rebecca Martin
I became a fan of The Darkness in late 2004, too late to catch them on their U.S. tour. I’ve waited in vain since then to see them live. But now, in 2012, my patience has finally been rewarded. I traveled from South Carolina to New York City, Chicago, and Minneapolis with my St. Louis friends Andrea and Kim for one purpose: to see The fucking Darkness.
Crown Jewel Defense
I knew there were two opening bands on tour with TD, but I was determined to show, at most, polite disinterest as they were not the bands I came to see. It was an easy task with Crown Jewel Defense, the first opening band. While I’ll admit that the lead singer has long, pretty hair and was covered in glitter, my friends and I had long faces like children who had been dragged to church against their will. At one point, I remember thinking “Aargh! We still have to sit through one more band before we finally get to see The Darkness.” But my sentiments quickly changed once Foxy Shazam took the stage. More on that later.
In Chicago CJD singer Tyler’s mic went out and Andrea declared that it was the best they’d sounded yet. But by Minneapolis, they had grown on us and we tolerated them much more than we did in NYC; I even found myself singing along with a couple of their tunes. I have to admit that I was being less-than-fair to them in NYC. They showed a lot of courage in going out onstage to play songs at sold-out shows to audiences who are there to see someone else.
It’s safe to say that I’ve never seen anything like Foxy Shazam. All six members command the stage with a cohesive, united front of controlled, writhing, upbeat insanity, which is everything a good rock show should be. Eric Nally is the gymnastic, glittery leather-clad singer. Most reviewers have compared him to Freddie Mercury. While the flawless harmonies on their new album are certainly reminiscent of Queen’s best years, possibly a nod to the influences of producer Justin Hawkins, I found Nally’s stage energy more akin to James Brown. I haven’t seen any other singers who in the course of a 5-7 song setlist boogie and bebop with a mic stand, leap-frog onto the guitarist’s shoulders, fall to their knees, bounce right back up and somersault across the stage. Eric Nally does all of this. I envision him walking offstage afterwards and collapsing onto a nearby chair from all the energy he’s expended.
Potential hecklers be warned: don’t fuck with Eric while he’s onstage trying to do his thing. He’ll call you out then put you in your place, much to the delight of the rest of the audience. In Chicago, he told one such heckler “the difference between you and me is that you’re looking up and I’m looking down.” In other words “shut the fuck up and let me do my show.”
In Minneapolis, there seemed to be a lot more Foxy fans than at the other two gigs I attended. Once the band took the stage, the floor was crammed with drunk and/or sweaty bodies. At one point, guitarist Loren Turner crowd-surfed a bit. The crowd seemed to surge in two opposite directions: forward to catch and hold him or to the side to keep him from landing on your head. After three shows, I am officially hooked on Foxy.
The audience was kept sonically entertained with a decent mix of rock songs as we impatiently watched the roadies set up the stage. I distinctly remember hearing Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin. But then suddenly the music got much louder as the appropriate choice of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town” began to play. Maybe The Darkness has always played it, but it seemed especially suitable on their third date in their too-brief North American tour.
ABBA’s “Arrival” now began to play and everyone knew this was the moment before the moment we’d all been waiting for. The lights dimmed and the exhilarating roar of the audience greeted The Darkness as they came out, opening the show with “Black Shuck.” I got very emotional at this point and one or two tears may or may not have escaped each of my eyes. Have I mentioned I’ve been waiting for The Darkness for seven years?! I just couldn’t believe that I was finally seeing The Darkness. They were really there, right before my eyes, rocking their asses off. However, I pulled it together quickly…there was no fucking way I was missing one of my favorite bands playing one of my favorite songs from their catalogue.
From what I’ve observed in their live performances I’ve seen on DVDs, it never takes Justin very long to disrobe once he’s onstage. He made it through Black Shuck but then took off the vest of the costume he wore. Wonder Woman’s costume should be rebooted to look just like Americana rocker vest and trousers that Justin wore onstage for the first part of the performance. (Seriously, how can WW be expected to fight crime effectively in booty shorts and a tube top?)
After the New York gig, I got my picture taken with Frankie, Dan, and Justin. I asked Justin after the show to play Hazel Eyes in Minneapolis, since that show coincided with my birthday, but I got politely shot down as he teased, ‘I don’t think I’d be able to remember the words.’ Despite the fact that I knew he was joking, four varied emotional responses went through my head.
- (sarcasm) Oh yeah, you have a whopping catalogue of 50 songs; I can see how a person could forget lyrics to so many songs.
- (anger)That’s what you have fucking rehearsals for
- (pleading)But…I’ll make cue cards! I’ll SING the words to you!
- (guilt trip)The Sunday show is my birthday…you owe us; you never came back to tour One Way Ticket like you promised
I’m proud of myself for refraining from any of those comments. Anyone who knows me can verify that I don’t always possess that much self-control. After the Chicago and Minneapolis gigs, I’m even prouder of my restraint as making any of those comments would have made me feel bad, knowing what I know now.
In Chicago, about halfway through the show, Justin said “We’ve had some requests…play more songs from One Way Ticket. Who here has been to any of our other shows? [cue my friends screaming, then Justin points to us] This is for you [play Hazel eyes]
Time-Out Chicago’s review of the show said “Hawkins…led the band through the highlights of its two-album catalog (“Hazel Eyes” and “Giving It Up” were among the most electric).”
Hey, Justin, how ‘bout you let me plan the band’s set list for your promised U.S. summer tour. I seem to know what your other American fans want to hear. All joking aside, I was so shocked that they were actually playing the song, I couldn’t even sing along with the first verse. I just kept saying over and over again, “I don’t believe it!! They’re playing Hazel Eyes!”
In Minneapolis, Justin said “on our tour, most of the songs we play are from our first album; we haven’t played much from the second album.” I knew where this was heading, so I waited for an appropriate pause from Justin and shouted “Hazel Eyes.” Justin smiled down at me and said “this lady wants to hear Hazel Eyes.” Justin watched and listened to the crowd as they erupted into approving screams and applause. (I’d like to reiterate my earlier offer to plan your setlist for you.) He then smiled back at me and said “okay” as if to say “yeah, alright, I’ll play this song for you.” According to Kim, Justin kept looking over at me while singing the first verse, but I couldn’t tell because his hair was in his eyes and I was too busy singing along to notice anything but the words to Hazel Eyes. This whole “Hazel Eyes” situation tells me that The Darkness is a band that actually gives a shit about what their fans want, which gives them major points in my book. Because of his kindness to this particular fan, Justin Hawkins now occupies a very special place in my heart, making this, hands-down, the best birthday I’ve ever had.
In my travels for the three gigs, people asked me what brought me to the city in question. When I told them, some people got the clear look of judgment in their eyes. To people like that, I’d like to say the following: Don’t judge me for following a band that I love, that I’ve been a fan of for 7 years. We’ve all made our choices in life. You choose what to spend your money on. Mortgage, spouse, children, family pet, family vehicle, those are all ordinary things to me that everyone has. I’ve always known that I didn’t want an ordinary life: I didn’t want the exact same life that everyone else had. I wanted my life to stand out and count for something in my memory, the only one that counts. Rock and roll is my husband and my children. The bands I love are my mortgage and my SUV. Don’t fuck with me or my family or you’re going down.
Review by Laurie Whitecloud
Well it’s been a really long 8 years since The Darkness has played live here in the U.S. I’ve already planned on a Southwestern state road trip to hit some gigs when my friend Dori – who went with me to see the boys off on the Rally to Hell – offers to buy me a ticket to New York (the ticket, not the plane fare) since I bought her ticket to Phoenix! I’m all over that like hot syrup on pancakes. Let’s rock!
Dori has made a fashionable new catsuit for the occasion. On the train ride over to the gig, I tell her she should tweet her pic of herself in it to Justin and ask for a retweet. So we giggle and she sends the tweet to Justin, and almost immediately there’s a retweet posted. Sweet!
We found our friend Brandi, another diehard TD fan, and are walking around the block when all of a sudden Brandi goes “There’s Frankie!” – a lo and behold, there was the Frankster! So we manage to catch him to ask for pics and signage for my badass beaded Darkness medallion, which he asks if I made and I said yes. He remembered a pic that Brandi had made him 8 years ago, and that made her night! He also complimented Dori’s catsuit and then he really had to get inside – he was late! Then, we chat up Sky from Foxy Shazam for a little bit and try to help him locate somewhere to eat in the area. Then we meet some other friends in line in front of Irving Plaza and wait for doors to open.
It was the longest wait ever! We had a nice chat with Michelle, aka Flaming Priest from the former Flaming Priest TD website, and her friend Melissa, and of course Mistress Boo and Dre and their friends were there. FINALLY, doors open at a little past 8 and we’re off to the barrier! It ends up just being me, Brandi and Dori parked on Dan’s side of the stage, and everyone else has taken off to stake out their places.
Well, Crown Jewel Defense tried their best to win over the tough New York crowd but some people in the balcony were chanting “No more songs!”, which was unfortunate. The lead singer just shrugged it off and said just one more song, then Foxy Shazam would be on. I like CJD, but I think most of the people were just anxious for TD.
Foxy Shazam was next. I was curious to see which songs from their new album “The Church of Rock n Roll” would be played, and how the crowd would react to THEM if they didn’t like CJD. But my boys Foxy ended up rocking the house and won over some new fans. Songs that were new were Holy Touch, The Temple and I Like It. They also played The Only Way to My Heart is With An Axe, Oh Lord, Rocketeer, and Killin It. Eric also managed to do his famous lit cigarette-eating routine, which was sorely missed by me in London. Awesome show, guys!
Tick tock, tick tock! It’s like David Lee Roth in Hot for Teacher “Aw man, the clock is sloooooow!” The waiting is the hardest part, as the great philosopher Tom Petty once said. We’ve been treated to a screen with different videos and images on it in between sets, but now the guys behind me are chanting “Raise the shit!” (meaning the video screen!) and we’re now singing very loudly along to Just What I Needed by the Cars, the The Boys Are Back In Town. The excitement is palpable! Then the sweet sounds of Arrival are finally heard. I’m doing the arm wave to this as is customary in the UK, but my countrymen need to learn this move!
AND THEN THERE THEY ARE!!! Dan, Frankie, Ed and Justin! THE DARKNESS IN THE USA, FINALLY, AGAIN! Sorry for all the caps, but it needs to be screamed. The crowd goes apeshit and Justin just stands there, cool as fuck with the Darkness sunglasses from the Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Video shielding his eyes from all the adoration and he’s wearing his brand-spanking-new catsuit with stars and stripes. Captain America ain’t got nothing on him!
They rip in Black Shuck and they have the crowd eating out of their hands for the rest of the gig. The new tunes are really stellar and I can’t wait for the new album! Video can be had at You Tube, but I think the songs besides NGSU and Out of This World are She’s Just A Girl and Everybody Have a Good Time. I know all diehard TD devotees know that most of PTL was played, and OWT and Is It Just Me from OWT, but the biggest surprise was the addition of Physical Sex to the setlist! I have an affinity for that song as it is my favorite B-side and of course, touchyfeelywoman is my screen name at Darklings. I was happy!
Random observations: Dan was extremely bouncy at the gig. Not just his hair, but he was literally jumping up and down at the gig. They all were really happy! Some people in the crowd started chanting for Justin to “Take it off! Take it off!”, so of course he had to take off his vest! I had to leave the 2nd row near the end of the set because it got way too hot and the idiot next to me wouldn’t stop crowding me. Long story short, I managed to get back inside after IBIATCL and Bareback, then stayed near the edge of the crowd for Justin’s walkabout during LOTRWNI. He came right in front of me and so I touched his elbow. Very proper, me! lol! Then he jumped onto a platform right beneath the balcony and continued to solo, the very place where some drunk chick had crawled up and jumped into the crowd earlier. This crowd was nuts! Body surfing was everywhere. When Justin commented how loud Boston was, the New York crowd had to out-loud them lol!
It was an epic evening. I didn’t hear one bad word about the gig. We wanted to hang around afterwards to try to say hi to the band, but Dori and I had to catch the last train back to New Jersey and Brandi had to catch her train too. Next time, fellas! and Welcome Back to the U.S.!! See, we weren’t lying when we gave you that petition when we said you had a lot of fans who wanted you back here. See you in Vegas!
Photos from this gig are now in the Gallery.
So… whole (a bit) tour recovery took a bit longer than a weekend, thank you to sinuses/cold/head/ache/work. While it’s not hot off the press, I can look back and ponder, with a smile.
Newcastle… 8 years and 1 day since my first ever TD gig. The first of my tour dates, it was easy to be excited and easy for it to be a great gig in my eyes just because – but it wasn’t just due to that. The place really was jumping, with an electric feel in the air. Expectations were running high for the whole tour. Fans either knew what the old standards were, or had heard about them in hushed terms of legend from others. Like I said before in another post, there was hell of a lot of reconnection going on, and now a tide of affection and support building up behind The Darkness.
Crown Jewel Defense went down pretty well – it must be interesting to be first on out of 3 – and were better than many a support band I’ve seen in my time. I approve of glitter liberally applied, too. Then came something that I’d waited quite some time for – Foxy Shazam. Heard about, listened to, tried to see once but was too late. WELL. I’m not sure I’m not still wondering ‘what the FUCK was that?’ but I can say it was bloody amazingly fantastic. They’re getting their own review. All I can say here is go and find out about them, now. Hurry. Especially if you’re in America and have tickets for February.
The Darkness. Oh yes. Back. Boys, Town, In, Are, Arrival. I don’t think anyone was left in any doubt about that. Uplifted and rocked as well. Every single older song was greeted with glee. Holding My Own was a real revelation, a Justin solo acoustic, beautifully done. Quite a mesmerising moment. Might well have been poignant too, if it had had completely different lyrics . Dan’s arm waving from the back of the stage wouldn’t have helped a straight face, either. Street Spirit – YAAAY! This was the first thing, early in 2003, that connected the voice and the name ‘The Darkness’ in my head when I heard it on the radio. It was a real joy to hear it live just for that reason! Loved Christmas Time’s snow….
A good many people had heard Cannonball, Concrete and Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us before, thanks to youtube, but live, they’re something else. They’re all pure Darkness, but differently. Cannonball is a hard and..umm… ballsy explosion, Concrete a catchy rock earworm, and NGSU is TD’s best poprock with sharp little edges. Those three have superb trademark Justin vocals, high and crystal clear. Can’t Believe It’s Not Love is a marvellously swingy, singalong gift in notes that you or I can manage without destroying our own balls or ovaries. Versatile voice goes hand in hand with varied songwriting, more so than ever before. New and old mixed seamlessly, I think – although I had seen them before and was pretty used to the new ones already. A mark of song excellence – just typing this has created 4 earworms all at once and it’s making thinking very hard!
This was a TD gig at tour greatness. It had everything. Excitement, fun, nostalgia, future, brilliance, rock, losing band in dry ice, laughter and sweat. Next…
Next was Cambridge, a whole lot colder and foggier. Never been so glad to see the end of the journeys there and back! The inbetween was worth the scary driving bits, though, of course. The Cambridge crowd took longer to get going. Perhaps because it was bloody cold in there. The barrier was so cold I yelped when I leant on it! I don’t think it really truly rocked until Justin whipped the crowd up, though Foxy Shazam made the place buzz beforehand. By the end of a cracking set, they were eating out of his hand and making the most ridiculous noises at his merest whim. More ridiculous than normally happens, I mean. Ok. I knew Newcastle was never going to be a fluke, but it has been confirmed. Slick as a greased parrot, they are GOOD at what they do, and yar boo bollocks to anyone who says otherwise.
UEA. No fog, ten minutes down the road, bliss. Home gig, so this one is ace whatever happens, it always is. Fantastic atmosphere in the smallest venue of the tour, I think. CJD – no one will ever forget those shorts. Foxy Shazam – blew me away again. Lots of name checking friends, wondering where Dad’s gone, happy crowd, happy band. First time, also, that I noticed that Justin stuck plecs to his chest with own sweat to use later. In this Christmas Time, the snow fell straight on to the crowd, which after the last two gigs as a bit of a surprise. 2 seconds into the song and the stuff is in my hair, mouth, boots, socks, jeans pocket and undies. No mean feat, that last one, they’re well protected, but there it was when I got ready for bed. This gig was my favourite so far. It just felt so damn right and that everything had fallen into place for a perfect night.
Next night – Hammersmith. Mad rush, getting changed into jeans still discharging snow (am sure they didn’t need a machine any more, just shake the entire front row from UEA), getting the train and tube and makeup together. And lo, arrived at the front just as CJD got into their stride, causing a young lady of my acquaintance to raise a very interested eyebrow. It’s the last night of the UK mainland tour tonight. Great crowd from the off tonight, bouncing off the walls and as excited as UEA and Newcastle. Me too, as there were old friends there, including the most fabulous Laurie, who after long years had finally ended up in the same place as me. YAAY! Foxy Shazam come on and hit the ground running and rolling. They’re not a stationary band, but tonight was their last night as they weren’t going to Ireland, so they gave it their all. If you weren’t blown away, you might be made of brick! What a delight they are.
The Darkness. Again. Here they are, also giving it everything. It IS the best of the lot I’ve seen, I’ve decided, though the UEA ones always have a special feel. Superb everythings, not a moment wasted or a note misplaced. Justin did misplace the microphone for a bit though – rushing up, opening mouth, singing… oh. Sorry, Justin, still giggling at that one! Lord knows what it was doing on the drum riser – was it just after the headstand? Normal service was resumed with a grin. More snow ended up in my undies and elsewhere (even under my phone cover, phone in zipped up bag) but it was just FUN dancing in it.
Encore. Bareback, Tie Your Mother Down, IBIATCL, LOTR. We know what to expect, some final mental partying before.. oh. Hang on just a fucking minute. That’s… that’s BRIAN MAY. Long time champion of Lowestoft’s finest is ON STAGE. WITH GUITAR. I was wondering, after the 100 Club, when it would happen, and the rumours of something special for tonight had made me wonder even more – but the actual fact of it happening right there in front of me was something else, baby. For three glorious songs, including one of his own, TD became a 5 piece. They truly looked like they were in the dream they later tweeted about. What a moment. What a legendary gig. It’ll be spoken of in years to come as ‘the’ one, and not one person there on or off the stage will forget it.
With the exception of the epic Love On The Rocks, we were all done, standing in awe.
The Darkness deserve all the plaudits they got and will get for this tour. It can’t possibly be easy to come back after 5 years, playing with other great bands, and do what they’ve done. But to do it this way? It seemed so seamless. Effortless. Confident. How did they do that? Justin (and Dr May) said to tell people that The Darkness are BACK. And they were both right.
Go forth and Darkangelise!
By Adrian Gray
November had been a stressful month for me. This was mainly due to my unwavering desire to avoid learning anything about what songs might and might not be played on The Darkness’ ‘Every Inch’ tour- so much so that I would dive under my desk every time I accidentally glimpsed the word ‘surprise’ or ‘acoustic’ on relevant Twitter feeds.
Fortunately, my slightly sad commitment to set-list based ignorance paid off and, waiting outside the Apollo in the November cold, I was fully prepared to have my face blown off in a rock and roll fashion. Eight past seven on the slightly un-punctual dot and the doors opened, and with a quick sprint the front row was mine.
For reasons that have escaped my memory, I believed the first support act Crown Jewel Defense to be from Ireland. Thus, you can imagine my surprise when the California born and bred lead singer first opened his mouth. Despite this initial perplexion, CJD actually produced a solid batch of tightly knit riffs and overall punchy songs, warming the cockles nicely.
A brief wait.
Then, Foxy Shazam: a band with which I had fallen deeply in love over the previous eight months but had yet had the chance to see live. What they pulled off no-one could have prepared for. The audaciously eccentric Eric Nally bombarded the audience with a concoction of soaring vocals, headstands, frontward rolls, Luke Skywalker impressions, dramatic monologues and piggy backs. And all of this to the backdrop of deliciously melodic ‘rock and soul’ anthems performed with the energy of band convinced the world will actually end in 2012. Spectacular.
A perhaps even briefer wait.
Finally, with the soundcheck now history, Thin Lizzy stuck in my head and Abba’s Arrival filling the sweaty air, it was time.
A roar: there they were. All four positions were assumed: another roar. Then- ‘Black Shuck’. Perhaps not the opener I was expecting, with ‘Bareback’ suspiciously absent, but boy did it work. Suddenly the energy of the crowd was vast; the heat and noise verging on overwhelming; and as the familiar opening chords of ‘Growing on me’ leapt from the speakers, the momentum only grew.
And with that, thousands were collectively plunged into a feast of overwhelmingly awesome rock. The unstoppable ‘Best of me’ cascaded into a better than ever sounding ‘One Way Ticket’, before (hopefully) soon to be hit single ‘Nothing’s Gonna’ Stop us’ provided a catchy first taste of what’s just over the horizon. Following a blistering ‘Getcha ands orf’, Justin placed a top hat upon his flowing yet somehow manly locks and donned an acoustic, before entering into the brand-spanking, shiny new ballad ‘Can’t believe it’s not love’. This was a new song for me and looks set to clamber atop the pile labelled ‘classics’: an intoxicating blend of characteristically irrepressible hooks combined with Steel Panther esc lyrics coated with a necessary sprinkle of subtlety.
A true highlight followed. An acoustic ‘Holding my own’ showed everyone why it was worthy of closing ‘Permission to land’ and proved the kind of grin-inducing surprise I’m glad I managed to avoid hearing about.
Back to electric.
Hits were then followed by hits which were followed by new songs which were followed by hits. The rock quartet became a festive four-piece as slightly too much fake snow christened the beginning of the fantastic ‘Don’t Let the bells end’. The audience took the role of the school choir to provide a stronger, if slightly less innocent sounding finale.
The encore was upon us. But then, a familiar figure: the no longer black yet ever iconic hair of a man without whom the Darkness may not exist appeared- Lord Brian May was on stage. A violently loud reception followed, with every last member of the audience voicing their appreciation for the man who has by now perfected seeming modest while clearly remaining preposterously awesome. Without an introduction ‘Bareback’ began, and although hearing it this late in the set was a bit like receiving an Easter egg in September, it was still massively welcome.
Although hard to hear over the sound of five thousand voices screaming one man’s name, I’m relatively sure ‘Tie Your Mother Down’ was played next, which lifted yet another roof off after nearly forty years of doing so. Brian thankfully remained to smother the timeless ‘I-believe’ in the wail of the red special. Incredible.
The classic closer ‘Love on the Rocks’ combined with a walkabout drew the night to a close in a typically mesmerizing fashion. My ears were ringing, my ribs were bruised, but a smile was painted permanently onto my face. Turning around to look at the crowd, I think this applied to pretty much everyone else too.
So that was that. The kind of night to brag on the internet about. The kind of night to tell your kids and your kids’ best friends about. Interestingly, three of the songs I enjoyed the most were ‘Concrete Lion’ , ‘Nothing’s Gonna’ Stop us’, and ‘Can’t believe it’s not love’, and that can only bode well for what is to come in the land of D’.
Review by ‘Love on The Rocks’
Seven years is a very long time to wait. It’s long enough to go through that cycle of fondly reminiscing, to briefly forgetting, then to coming back and wondering… Can something really still be as good seven years later?
It was the big question that stuck in my mind when I went to see The Darkness at the Edinburgh HMV Picturehouse on the 9th of November. The first time I’d seen The Darkness was back in 2004 at Brixton Academy, on their Elf Hazard Tour. I didn’t realise that first time would be the last for a very long time, and have since mourned not having caught them before the band’s break-up. That night back in 2004 was hands down the most fun I’d had at a gig, ever. I was a little worried that I’d be disappointed, that it wouldn’t live up to the incredible memory I have of being 17 years old, excited beyond belief, leaping around and squealing at having touched Justin’s leg during the ‘Love On The Rocks’ walkabout. Could it still be that good?
However, videos and reviews from the band’s summer gigs had my hopes up and I was already buzzing like an excited teen again as I bustled into the Picturehouse. I’d never been to the Picturehouse before and was quite surprised by how small it seemed, however this did please me as it meant that it was very easy to get near the front (especially considering we were pretty early). It seemed like a fairly nice venue.
Crown Jewel Defense were the opening support. I’m sure they’re lovely lads, but they weren’t quite my cup of tea though my gig partner/the boyfriend seemed to like them more than I did. I did have to give props to the lead singer for what looked like a custom-made t-shirt with ‘Fly Like a G6’ scrawled on it, which did make me chuckle.
Foxy Shazam were up next and I was incredibly excited about this. I’d been recommended Foxy Shazam by another Darkling so had looked them up and had promptly fallen in love. They opened with ‘Oh Lord’, which is one of my favourites so I was happily bouncing around, screaming along to the lyrics. On my own, so it seems. I was a little disappointed that the crowd where I was, on Dan’s side of the stage, took some time to warm up to Foxy. However, Foxy blasted through their set which was, regrettably, too short for my liking, and I’m sure that they had won over most- if not all- of the crowd by the end. Highlights were Eric’s head-stand and Sky, the keyboardist, seeming to keyboard-crowd-surf with his instrument at one point. I don’t know how it was quite humanly possible but was quite a spectacle. I loved every minute. Once they were off stage, I asked my gig companion what they thought and the reply was “They’re fantastic, but the lead singer’s insane isn’t he? I’m glad there’s a barrier between us…”
Then there was that moment- the waiting game. You could feel a change in the air as the crowd started to shift and get restless. Everyone knew what was coming next. It’s at this point that I must thank the lovely tall lad who let me stand in front of him so I could see, thus placing me on the barrier, which I remained clamped onto like a limpet for the rest of the gig. Thank you, Tall Lad – you helped make the gig that bit more awesome for me.
I’m sure every Darkling out there knows that moment, the one when you know you’re in for one hell of a night. It’s when the first notes of ABBA’s ‘Arrival’ start trickling out of the speakers, and the lights go down. Your tummy flips, your heart skips a beat then starts pounding, and you can’t help but bounce in your spot a little bit as you know exactly what’s going to happen next.
After their grand entrance, the band launched straight into ‘Black Shuck’, which had the crowd going veritably wild. Although an excellent opener, I’ll admit that I felt a twinge of regret that we weren’t getting the classic ‘Bareback’ to launch us into the gig. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect in terms of set list since I hadn’t read anything about the Liverpool gig the night before, but think it was very well arranged with a good ‘greatest hits’ feeling about it while giving us a taste of what more was to come in terms of The Darkness in 2011/2012. All of ‘Permission to Land’ was played, as well as ‘One Way Ticket’ and ‘Is It Just Me?’ from the band’s second album. I would have loved it if we’d had more of the B-sides other than just ‘Best of Me’ and ‘Bareback’ (which made an appearance during the encore), since although they are two cracking tunes, The Darkness are one of those bands with an excellent array of B-sides (plus I’ve always wanted to hear ‘Out of My Hands’ live).
One great unexpected surprise was the acoustic version of ‘Holding My Own’. I was genuinely delighted when the rest of the band cleared off and Justin struck up the familiar chords. It worked really well as an acoustic piece and Justin, unsurprisingly, did fantastically holding the stage by himself. It was genuinely a beautiful moment. This was topped off by Dan peering out from the wings at one point and trying to encourage the crowd to get their hands in the air- hilarious
The new material was truly excellent. I’d heard videos of ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us’, ‘Concrete’ and ‘Cannonball’ from the summer gigs and was already a great fan of the songs, so it was great to hear them being played live. There really is some stunning guitar work going on in all three songs, and it’ll be interesting to hear studio versions of them hopefully in the not-too-distant future. The newer addition being debuted, ‘Out of This World’/’Can’t Believe It’s Not Love We’re Making’ (there seems to be a little dispute over the actual title of the song at the moment), is just a classic Darkness track- very catchy, excellent guitar work, fantastic vocals, something you can jump around to and that will be stuck in your head for days after hearing it. It’s a real corker, so look out for that one!
The encore was solid, though it did feel strange having ‘Bareback’ so late on in the set- however glad it was still included! I loved their cover of Queen’s ‘Tie Your Mother Down’. I got the distinct feeling that they were really having fun with it, and you can’t help but grin and sing along when you can tell that the people rocking on stage are having the time of their lives too. It just reminded me so much of what I’d missed about music when The Darkness were ‘off the scene’, as such- I missed having fun. I missed hearing music that made me grin like a loony and want to sing along to it, regardless of the fact that I’d never, ever be able to reach those top notes like Justin can.
The night closed in the traditional manner with ‘Love On The Rocks’ (a personal favourite) and Justin’s walkabout. Though I’d been whisked back to my teenage days, this time I did not rush to touch his leg (although amongst his many costume changes, Justin seemed to have whipped out a classic pink-and-white number that may well have been the one teenage me touched back in the day). Through the deafening screams, you could tell that no-one in the venue wanted the night to end and yet that everyone had had a mind-blowing night of rock. This was how it should be done.
As I left the venue, ears ringing, grinning from ear to ear, it felt so good to be able to say “They’re BACK!”
Video of Holding My Own – there are other videos on the same channel, from that gig.
Marci Hawkins Reviews:
This was a pretty exciting gig for me, the boys playing in my town?! I had to get tickets! Recently saw Whitesnake in Bournemouth and while it was great, the traveling is a pain, so just turning up and going home right away was a very nice change.
This was the third time I had seen the boys, the first was during their last tour back in 2006 at the NEC. Sat pretty far back and to the side was kinda disappointing, but not bad for a first gig. I kept up to date on all things TD during the 5 year gap, from loving Hot Leg and Stone Gods (What ever did happen to album 2?) and hunting down rare tracks/live versions etc.
As with everyone, I was ecstatic when they reformed, and swore I would go to as many shows as possible. I was always disappointed I never got to see Frankie on stage. So when I heard they would be playing 3 warm up shows in small venues, I jumped at the chance and trekked all the way to London for what was an unforgettable gig.
First up was Crown Jewel Defense, whose drummer and bassist passed me in the line outside many a time and I thought they were roadies. Sorry Lads! Got quite the shock when the roadies picked up instruments and began playing them…
My friend Karl had been to the gig in Brighton and said the lead singer used five different guitars for five songs, alright for some! They kept the crowd entertained pretty well. Some great foot tapping/head nodding american stadium rock songs. They had stage presence and sounded rather tight, i’d pay some money to see them again. I was expecting them to be Max Raptor bad, who now always remind me of a silent crowd who then all sing along to “My Sharona” as soon as they have left the stage.
Might i add that the support for 2006 (The Ark) turned out to be one of my favorite bands, so the pretty constant mention of Foxy Shazam by Justin got me excited but the quick YouTube search didn’t fill me with hope, pretty average songs and weird videos… But oh how I was wrong!
You MUST go see Foxy Shazam live,I imagine their pre-show rituals involve snorting cocaine and caffeine. Before I knew what was going on, the front of the stage was being swarmed by press as the lead singer, Eric, rolled across the stage and threw the mic and himself around the stage.
I admit, I didn’t pay much attention to the songs, I was too busy trying not to miss anything any of the band members were doing, pretty surreal to see a trumpet player dive between the lead guitarists legs and turn your head to see the keyboardist playing with his feet while standing on his instrument. But the tour de force has to be Eric leapfrogging onto the shoulders of the soloing lead guitarist. I can’t begin to imagine how many guitars they’ve knackered getting that right.
But The Darkness were the main reason I was here, and they did not disappoint. Granted I didn’t think it was as good as the London show (thanks to the crowd, which Justin picked up on half way through: “Why don’t we have some fucking fun?”)
There was a touching moment where the two brothers and Frankie played side by side, it’s so great to see them enjoying themselves once again, long may it last.
Justin sang a beautiful solo acoustic rendition of Holding My Own proving, if it was needed, that along with balls out rock, he can write and perform a timeless ballad. Tie Your Mother Down would have been a very very nice surprise if I hadn’t seen it already days before Hearing that they would be back next year was the icing on the cake. See you next time boys, say hi to the chick rocking out and having a great time, like she always does at your shows.
More photos are on the Galleries page.
This was the first time I’d seen The Darkness since the One Way Ticket tour hit Glasgow way back in 2006, so after five years of anticipation I was somewhat excited going to the gig in the first place. Unfortunately I missed all but the last song of Crown Jewel Defense and therefore I don’t think it would be fair to pass any comment on their performance, and I’ll try not to spoil too much of the set list from The Darkness (partially as my memory is terrible!).
As the title suggests the gig was in the O2 Academy which can of occasion be a bit of an annoying venue, mainly as the sound can be problematic, but there were no real problems tonight. Anyway, back to the actual events… Foxy Shazam were the first band I saw and I am already a fan and knew what to expect from them live. They did not disappoint, Eric was rolling about all over the stage and the rest of the guys were equally as watchable. I especially recommend trying to keep an eye on every member of the band, as you never know when one of them is going to do something spectacular, for example keyboards being played by Sky. They played mainly songs from their 2010 album Foxy Shazam, one from the album Introducing and their most recent song I Like It, which I believe is the 21st Centuries equivalent of Baby Got Back… minus the rapping element (which makes it better really!). Anyway, I thoroughly recommend going to see Foxy Shazam, or if you are going to a Darkness gig throughout the tour turn up early enough to see them.
Now to the main event, The Darkness came on and went straight into Black Shuck, suddenly the place was bouncing! Ed was caged like some wild drumming beast. The guys sounded every bit as good as I remember and had all the stage presence and charisma from the old days. These are things that a lot of bands are severely lacking just now (in my opinion), and this is one reason why it’s fantastic that the guys are back. The guys played all the songs from Permission to Land, a couple from One Way Ticket to Hell (And Back), some b-sides sneaked their way in to the set list. There were a couple of new songs to wet our appetites for new releases from the band, a couple of special covers and indeed an early festive offering (no prizes for guessing which song it was). In every single song Justin’s vocals were absolutely spot on; his voice has remained as powerful as it has always been. The guitar parts and indeed all the instrumental bits were every bit as good and powerful as I remember (from the good ole days!). These elements all combined perfectly to have me bouncing about and screaming along to every lyric (that I knew, admittedly I did not know the new songs!).
The between song banter was back and evident throughout the interactions with the crowd were fantastic. One such interaction came before the song that most people would know the band for (were they not a fan of the band) where Justin referred to its recent use on the X Factor and dedicated it to a series of people, eventually deciding to dedicate it to all of us who had turned up! He also played about with the riff to that song, commenting along the lines of “don’t you just hate it when a band comes back and re-does the song they are most famous for?” There were further interactions (including dedicating a song to Frankie’s Mum, who happened to be in the crowd), but I won’t go into them all; partially as I can’t remember them all! There were the usual couple of costume changes from Justin, which adds to the occasion. I swear he was wearing the cat suit from Get Your Hands off My Woman, or at least a very convincing replica at one stage during the gig (which appeared to glow in the dark… I may need to question my pre-gig drinking if this was part of my imagination!). There was some dismay on my part when Dan was Thin Lizzy t-shirtless during the initial phases of the gig; this was remedied for the encore. I was a little surprised that there was pyrotechnics in the gig, just given that it was in a mid-sized venue and because it was the comeback gigs. I just thought it would be a back to basics approach, however they added to the spectacle and magnificence of the occasion and I suppose they also reminded everyone of what The Darkness offered in the past. It is also opportunity to add to the fun of it all. There was also a crowd walkthrough from Justin during the final song of the evening… in which a large amount of people rushed to touch him (in a non seedy way I assume), although in this walkthrough Justin had a shoe stolen! He continued to finish the song shoe-less and I’m sure the shoe in question is either on ebay as we speak, or in someone’s room… unless they did the right thing and returned it!
I absolutely loved this gig, it had everything for me: it reminded me of the classics, providing me the chance to scream along to them again, had a couple of covers to maintain interest and a couple of new songs to show us what is still to come. The Darkness are still one of the top live bands around, if not THE top and certainly would entertain everyone, I would have thought. There is humour, charisma and most importantly great songs in abundance. The gig had all the elements I love; sweat, bouncing about and great songs that I love. It was the first gig in about 4 years where I woke up the next morning with no voice, and I love that! I can’t wait to hear the future releases from the guys and hopefully they will play Glasgow again at some stage next year… I will certainly be there if they are! I would suggest if there is a gig near you and there is still tickets left for the Every Inch tour, you get your arses into gear and get down there! If you have got a ticket enjoy your gig, I’m positive you will. Hopefully it won’t be another 5 and a half years before The Darkness grace Glasgow again!
Thanks to Anthony for doing this for OI!
If you’re going to see The Darkness on this tour, OI would really like to publish your thoughts and photos. Full credits will be given, but no pay! Anyone wishing to contribute can contact us via Twitter, Facebook or on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
PWEI were a great favourite of mine back when the world was mine and my oysters weren’t polluted, so it was a pleasure to see them come to Norwich, especially as I missed out on the Reformation tour a while ago. With a bit of determination and asking nicely, I managed to get an interview with this incarnation of the band at the last minute. I decided not to ask about the whys and wherefores of who’s doing what with who, because that’s been done by some other people on this tour – see the FB page for links. After an encounter in a bowling alley with the band and Davey’s pants (see photos) I went along later to the very tidy dressing room. What’s the smell? Pot Noodle, Cheesy Toasty Toppers and cooked meat were the suggestions, but luckily for all, sweaty boy and bottom burps it wasn’t.
And I DID enjoy myself. The place wasn’t full, but the crowd was very pleased to be there and happy to show it. Lights, camera, action and sound effects… Back to Business, ok? Energy abounded on stage, Mary and Graham bouncing off each other in more ways than one. Plenty to watch and join in with, plenty of new, plenty of old. There is a harder edge to the sound, there’s no loss of the Poppies attitude. I got the feeling, as the band had hoped, that everyone there gave the new songs a fair hearing and good reception. Plenty of requests for oldies, too – Mary did say we could have Beaver Patrol if we sang it, but alas, the crowd wasn’t quite up to more than a ‘fine’ rendition of the intro. Ich Bin Ein Auslander really got everyone going, There Is No Love a Poppies anthem (no lighters, too bouncy), and RSVP from the back looked like a mass aerobic workout. Excellent. Good work, lads.
Here’s a video of Old Skool Cool – I had trouble staying still long enough for a whole video! Photos are on the Gallery page.
And interview – just don’t ask how long it took or get sniffy about the quality, etc. I’ve nearly killed myself getting it as far as this with it.
Thanks to all at PWEI.
This post was brought to you NOT courtesy of Apple. How difficult can it be to move a file from one Apple product to another, edit it and upload it? And HOW many conversions back and forth from one file type to another?
‘I’m in a band with my brother and two best friends…’
A fact that seemed consigned to history, just a few short months ago. But in ‘Every Inch’( a show opener in the vein of the Hot Leg Theme of yesteryore) that’s what’s stated quite firmly, along with the clear intention to rock the fuck out of Britain’s last tiny crevice. This tiny legendary venue was already rocking – crowd entertained by Dark Stares, but just wanting TD badly and making sure it was known. The band were greeted with warm affection and glee – everyone there knew that this gig was going to be a bit special. So intimate a gig couldn’t help but be so, and ‘Arrival’ always sets the nerve endings aglow. Also aglow were the neon bits on that first outfit (do you NEED to ask whose?). I’m as used to a catsuit and skin tight as the next Darkling, but my word… lycra rocks. Is rocked, and copes admirably under the strain. Maximum support and comfort.
The set list is pretty common knowledge now, and there is a photo below. Having ‘Love On The Rocks’ second was a bit of a surprise if you’re used to having it finish just about every gig you’ve been to – it’s made for long crowd walks, anthemic clapping and huge finales. Hell, whatever… this ain’t no tour gig to promote, please and persuade people to the Dark side. It’s warm up, practice, pleasure and a bit of playtime. No one really cares what happens in what order as long as it does. It’s still hard not to pinch yourself – it’s only been 4 gigs and 4 months since the Return.
If you wanted a classic Darkness gig to remember forever, this might well be the one. If you can have raw, polished rock, then we had it by the skipload. Despite the lack of real headbanging space, they rocked their hearts out, giving it everything they had. TD can play all of those songs standing on their heads. TD enjoying them to the max is something to witness. It must have been like this in the Barfly days… Confidence, belief, loving your own music enough to let it take over and showboat itself.
The crowd responded with the sort of adulation that’s born of a critically partisan attitude, not blind worship of a bunch of rock gods. They too knew their stuff, and knew what they wanted. They rocked and sang to the hits. Rocked and sang to the B-sides, which have a special place in Darkling hearts. ‘Concrete’, ‘Cannonball’ and ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us’ have been accepted into the fold since June’s unveiling (or re-unveiling), but there were plenty of opinions and preferences about them. There was a slight break in the head banging for ‘Is It Just Me’, then they listened carefully to ‘Pat Pong’ whilst having a boogie, and gave it a great reception. I though that it was the one they delivered with least confidence, myself, but it was a true TD track. Anyway, lyrics about ladyboys and having two sets of genitals have to be winners. After that, it was nonstop TD karaoke rock until the end, energy pouring from the band and crowd far faster than the sweat. Fee’s (of FeeTV on youtube) vocals were spot on, and I have to give billions of kudos points to the bloke down the other end for his superb ‘MoooootheerrrrrFUUUCCCKEEERRRR’. Brilliant.
There was banter, there were cockups, there was an encore practice. Ed showed the others up by being the only one remembering what came next. Justin’s second catsuit was a delight of gold glitter. Frankie back in black, as cool as ever. Dan down the other end where I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him loud and very clear.
Brian May attended, as did Webbie. Simon Price had a song dedicated to him. All of the Hot Leg boys were there, to my delight. Any Darkness gig is going to be fun, but this one is a rare and precious jewel to lay in the memory bank.
To set the scene – we were in a long narrow room, with stage on the long side. Monitors on the floor in front of the stage, which was about 2 feet high. Stage also narrow, so not much room for cavorting with overexuberant abandon - and also very long, so band well spaced out. Just before TD came on, the monitors, which had been parallel to the stage, were rearranged at an angle, cutting down standing room at the front and also visibility for me, dammit – the stage seemed to curve a little so I had absolutely no view of Dan at all. Sorry, but no photos of him. There were also two very tall and wide professional photographers at the front who stayed for the whole gig, blocking views for a lot of us. There was also someone taking photos behind me, whom I now know more intimately from that angle than I care to remember. He needed to remember that other fans are not an inconvenience at a gig and should not be shoved out of the way or smacked on the head with a camera in the hope that they’ll move. Thank you, fuckwit. I hope all your photos were shit.
Review by Robin Olssen
It’s been just over five years since I saw these guys at Annexet in Stockholm last time. This time the band were headlining the second of three days at the Getaway Rock Festival in Gävle. I drove up to Gävle (5 hour drive) with three of my friends and arrived the day before the concert. We set up our tent at the camping and drank a couple of beers. Later on the evening we watched Papa Roach and Bullet for my Valentine. Papa Roach wasn’t really my cup of tea, but I like some of Bullet for my Valentine’s songs, unfortunately most of “my songs” were dropped from their setlist! Next up: Alice Cooper. Unfortunately we decided NOT to see him(!) and headed back to the camping.
I woke up early the next day. The Darkness were to play 23:00 PM and i was counting down the hours – “11 hours left… 7 hours left… 5 hours…” I left the camping about an hour before the show and got to the second row right in front of Justin. About 15 minutes before the were to play Joey DeMaio of Manowar entered the stage and confirmed that his band was to play the festival next year; I couldn’t care less – I wanted Darkness! The “Arrival” intro finally came on and the band appeared on stage at the end of the intro. Dan took his guitar and started to play the opening chords of “Bareback” while Justin was clapping along furiously. “Black Shuck” soon followed and it was around this time I was pushed forward to the front row due to the pressure – I didn’t mind at all!
Justin then took of his jacket and revealed a “Tre Kronor”-tshirt whilst having his usual stage banter: “Gimme a D! Gimme an Arkness!” Shortly afterwards the band started to play “Get Your Hands off My Woman”. During Dan’s solo Justin did a head stand in front of the bass drum. The first song off the bands second album was “One Way Ticket” which featured Frankie on a cowbell! The said song sounds, imo, much better this time around than it did in 2006. I had already heard the three new songs that the band had debuted a month or so earlier via YouTube. Of these songs “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us” were my least favourite, but after tonights performance this song really stuck to my head!
Justin introduced a “special man” – “Eddie Graham behind the drum set!” They then played “Love Is Only a Feeling”, complete with confetti rain. A few songs later it was time for the next two new songs: “Concrete” and “Cannonball”. Justin left the stage during the latter song and came back on with a catsuit complete with a tail. Both of these songs went down really well. Four songs from “Permission to Land” followed. The crowd went nuts when Justin started the opening riff to “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”. The band left the stage for about 30 seconds and then came on declaring that they were about to play their last song: “…and don’t forget next year Man of War is playing!” A ten minute version of “Love on the Rocks With No Ice” followed and then the concert was over. I went back to the camping and fell asleep one hour later with a smile on my face!
Setlist: Arrival (intro) / Bareback / Black Shuck / Growing on Me / Get Your Hands off My Woman / One Way Ticket / Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us / Love Is Only a Feeling / Friday Night / Is It Just Me? / Concrete / Cannonball / Stuck in a Rut / Givin’ Up / I Believe in a Thing Called Love / Love on the Rocks With No Ice
Months had passed since the last known sighting of either Stone Gods or Hot Leg. Years since the Mothership Darkness had crashed landed in a permanent-looking blaze. But on a night in June 2011, the once impossible became reality. Now that a little time has passed, the impact faded, and the tendency to scream has passed, the words to describe it might just flow. There is a lot I want to say, but I will try and keep it to the point!
It was a night that had been analysed and deconstructed a thousand times before the day had even dawned. What they’d play, wear, say, do… but really, did it matter? Surely all that was needed was for the faith to be rekindled? Waiting for that was tense.
Max Raptor as support were more than equal to the impatient Darkling crowd, and got it bouncing and eager. Far better than a lot of supports, they deserved their slot and are worth watching in the future. However, this Norwich crowd was only there for one thing. To celebrate the four men on stage – fans, friends, family. The necessary interval was interminable, and by that time, the God of Rock must have been knocked off his perch by prayers. The realisation hit that it was really really definitely going to happen. Deep intakes of breath – not just mine. It was an emotional moment, shared by a good many around me. So many people at this gig had supported the Hawkins boys through the last 5 years, on stage and off. Read Frankie’s book, seen Ed play with KFB. Once Arrival began, there were a few hastily stifled sniffles – not now, this is not the time – but the damn tune has set Darkling spines tingling for years, and tonight it has a special extra overtone.
There’s no huge fanfare arrival. Just Ed, then Dan, then Frankie assuming the position for Bareback, then Justin striding on to complete the lineup. The reception nearly lifted the roof, and that was only the very beginning. No one had started singing yet, and everyone was just savouring the excitement, on both sides of the barrier. Finally, the irrevocable step was taken into real Darkness. No more wondering about Justin’s voice, the boys’ chemistry, how it will sound. For the rest of our time in that hot, sweaty, perfect atmosphere, we got our answers. It was everything we hoped and more. Fast, hard rock served up with skill and aplomb. Guitars sang, bass and drums thundered, and Justin… well. I don’t think his voice has ever sounded so completely under his control. Note after perfect hard high note glittered like crystal and just kept coming. It all seemed so bloody easy and effortless, and it couldn’t have gone any better. The crowd lapped it up. All the old trademarks were there. Guitar playing behind head, Thin Lizzy Tshirt, bandanna, crowd banter, acrobatic vocals for the crowd to copy – it was all there. We’ve not had black confetti before, though, and it’s still coming out of my boots… Everything that nostalgia and expectation required was delivered.
The new songs were delivered with equal polish to eager ears. ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us’ is a very old song that’s not been heard live since 2002, so I understand, but it fit perfectly with the rest of the material. Appropriate, too. ’Concrete’ was a grower, for me – perhaps I was listening too hard and went into a Darkling daze – I needed to hear that again. ‘Cannonball’, though, was an instant attention grabber with all the Darkness hooks latching onto brains. If these new ones are anything to go by, we’re all going to be rather stunned by the album. Out of breath and aurally blasted. Excellent! It all ended triumphantly with ‘Love on the Rocks’, crowd walk a given. Everything was bang on, like there hadn’t been a 5 year gap, nothing had been forgotten.
There were no signs of nerves from anyone. Here, in Norwich, they were sure of support, but it was more of a tsunami than a wave. How could it possibly get any better? HOW?
Well… actually, it could. Still astounded by how very good TD are (better than before, in my opinion) I went to London 3 days later. Max Raptor again giving great rock service and much appreciated by the crowd. This is a much bigger venue, with much more press exposure. No nerves for me this time, anyway, and I’m not sure there was any need to worry much on Sunday, either.
The set was the same, the crowd jampacked with moving anywhere difficult. Less rough than Sunday, though. Sunday’s gig was intimate and the atmosphere dripping with goodwill. This one isn’t as intimate, nor does it have the family feel, but everyone in that hall was rooting for the lads. It was less of a warmup gig than a tour show oddly separated from the rest of the dates. Warm WHAT up? Cold toes? The Darkness are on FIRE tonight and if it had gone on much longer there would have been no Shepherd’s Bush Empire left. This gig blew everyone away. Quite honestly, it was the best I’ve seen TD on stage. Lots of gigs I’ve been to have memories attached, little moments savoured, to make them special. But… what I saw on stage that night outdid everything. Tight, hard rocking band. The interaction, the sound, the lights, the naileddowndead execution of their music. The complete and utter joy of being there on stage together performing was plain to see, and that was worth every penny it itself. I listened hard to ’Concrete’ and decided that it is actually a better song than ‘Cannonball’, which is catchier, and both are TD in the extreme.
I am a Darkling, it’s true. I saw them a lot back in the last day, and saw as much Hot Leg, Stone Gods and KFB as I could manage. I can’t write this without some bias. However, I am not going to say that they were brilliant just because it was them. I’m going to say it because they were bloody brilliant.
To The Darkness – I salute you.