So – the last gig of the European tour. Amsterdam. My envelope of “forthcoming gig tickets” is empty, and it seems only yesterday that it was stuffed full. Better make the most of this final show then, before the band depart down under.
The Heineken Music Hall is pretty sparsely populated when I arrive, and Doomfoxx have just come onstage. I like this band, they’re a good choice of support for The Darkness, being good old-fashioned solid rockers, and their set is just right for getting the crowd warmed up. Nice touch is that the singer donned a Darkness t-shirt (and this gesture is reciprocated later when Justin does the whole show in a Doomfoxx t-shirt).
Just before TD step up, I scan the crowd and thankfully the place has filled up quite a bit, although it’s by no means a packed house.
Since the last gig I attended was the riotously successful Milan show, this one has a lot to live up to, and it doesn’t quite have the same magic, but it comes pretty close. There are a couple of technical problems (Dan’s guitar, Justin’s mic) but they don’t detract too much, and everyone seems on form tonight. It’s a straight rock gig, as many of the European shows have been – no boob chariot, no high wire, no pyros or flames. And much as I love the spectacle that goes with all that in the bigger arenas, this to me is better somehow – more about the music and the band’s performance and less reliant on image and effects, which a band this good actually don’t need. And Justin has shunned his stage trousers for his jeans! Yes, it’s dress-down-Thursday in Amsterdam.
I’m not going to analyse the gig song by song, as the set hasn’t changed and we all know the songlist by now, although I should just mention “Girlfriend”, which saw the crew emerge from the wings, in cheerleader-style shorts and tops, and doing their best “last night of the tour” Flashdance routine, which gave everyone a good laugh, including the band. And “IBIATCL” which saw a big gap open up in the audience just behind me as the Dutch fans punched each other and hurled each other to the ground – which is, according to the girl next to me “what they do here when they are really enjoying it”. Strange people, the Dutch!
But overall, a couple of things spring to mind – firstly, how tight the band have become, and secondly, how well Richie has fitted in over the months. I admit to having my doubts at first (aesthetically I had always thought Frankie looked the part), but over the course of the UK and European tour, Richie has really made his mark and it’s hard to believe he hasn’t been there since the start. UK fans didn’t get to see “Highway To Hell” on which he takes lead vocals, but believe me – it’s one of the high points now and is probably one of the best covers of a song ever done by anyone.
There’s really no-one to touch The Darkness live. They have the songs, they have the stage-presence and they work damned hard to put on a great show, so they deserve every bit of success they have achieved so far – in fact, no – that’s wrong – they deserve a whole lot MORE success than they have achieved so far.
So… over and out from the Heineken Music Hall, and don’t forget – The Darkness refresh the parts other bands cannot reach.
PS: thanks to the helpful person who recommended “this bus will take you directly and stop by your hotel”. It did. Except it went round the practically the whole of Holland first and took about two hours longer than the metro would have done. Was it all worth it? You bet it was!