On tour with The Darkness

by Tigerlily

My tour began on Friday 3rd, when I jumped on a train, then on a car and finally on a plane to go to Dublin, Ireland. Arrival at 23.45, local time. 7 hours from my home to my destination…
But I don’t regret it…

The Point Theatre, Dublin, Saturday 4th.
Since a show (not by the boys) in Paris in February 2002 or 2003, I’m not keen anymore on waiting for I don’t know many hours outside in the cold. Especially when it’s still easy to make it to the front…
This Saturday, I missed half of the Ark’s set and I have yet to decide if I have to regret it… I didn’t find the second part of their set outstanding. And I vaguely remember Juliette Lewis and The Licks from that night…
Even by being that late, I still managed to make it to the 2nd row, center. I had to fight a little, but nothing too terrible…

Shortly after setting myself in my spot, a video compiling extracts from Darkness videos on “You shook me all night long” by AC/DC announces that the boys will soon hit the stage.
The venue goes dark, and Arrival by Abba confirms that the moment we’ve been waiting for a so long time is finally here.
Ed is the first to take place and begins immediately to beat his drums on Knockers’ rhythm. He is shortly followed by Richie and Dan, who both appear at the feet of the biggest horns.
Justin… Justin appears on the left side of the stage, flying in a pair of giant boobies. With flashing nipples! For those who doubted that the band would be able to top up their last tour, there isn’t any doubt left now… They’re going to show us that they’re back. For the best!
And I have to admit that seeing this pair of giant knockers over our heads is probably a thing that I’ll remember for a very long time…

One Way Ticket is the first song that really takes the crowd, shortly followed by the Darkness’s next single Is it Just Me? The crowd is alive and begins to push hard in my back, reminding me that I’m definitely not made for mosh pits.
Anyway, the band is great and mixes old and new songs. Growing On Me, Black Shuck, Love On The Rocks, Love Is Only A Feeling, Givin’ Up, I Believe In A Thing Called Love, Get Your Hands Off, Girlfriend, Seemed Like A Good Idea, Hazel Eyes, Dinner Lady Arms, English Country Garden, Bald, Blind Man. All the main songs are here. But no b-sides. At all…
By the time the boys set up for SLAGI, dizziness has taken over me and a nice security guy lifts me out of the crowd, maybe allowing Dan to see more of my ass (hidden behind fantastic stripey black and pink thights) that I ever wanted him to see… That’s the moment I want to “thank” the charming blond lady beside me who refused to call the security when I asked her to and said to me “I don’t believe you”. I truly hope this will never happen to her…
That’s on the far right of the stage that I finish to watch the show, mainly on the screen. That’s the first time that I think that I would love to see a dvd of that tour…
The show ends on an incredibly good and loud version of Bald. As soon as they left the stage, the lights are turned on and the familiar tune of “I’ve Had The Time Of My Life” blows up the speakers… It’s time to leave the venue, with a little pinch in the heart, even if I know that I’m going to see them again very soon…
My best friend, who was there for his first Darkness show says to me that it’s been one of his favourite show. EVER. And we’ve both seen quite a few big bands!

30 minutes of walk to my friends place (Dublin is really a small city), debriefing with a few friends, transfer of photos from camera to iPod… And it’s time to go to bed, I’m leaving for London in a few hours…
I check-in at 8.30 at the international airport of Dublin, where I’m soon joined by one of my touring friends. We both chat about the show, comparing our impressions. Our flight is delayed by 45 min, and as soon as the plane takes off we both pass out and wake up only to see our plane doing rounds over Heathrow. We finally land and it’s with a kind of relief that we see our friend arrive to pick us up. Before leaving Heathrow, we manage to buy the last issue of Total Guitar in which our boys are pictured. Eye candies. But we’re too tired to read the article anyway!
A few hours later, I finally settle in a charming house in Kent, where I’m going to spend the next few hours. At this moment, I think I can’t be more tired. The future is going to prove me that I’m wrong.

On Monday 6th, we head to Heathrow to pick up another friend arriving from abroad. We go directly to Ally Pally to check out the venue. It’s just too weird! The building looks like everything but a rock venue! In the greyness of London, it looks odd, even a bit scary. And I have difficulties to imagine that tomorrow, this place will be illuminated by The Darkness’s magic.

Alexandra Palace, London, February 7th.
And finally, the first London’s show arrives. Our cab picks us up at 5pm and drives us directly at the feet of Ally Pally. But it’s still too early for us to queue. And it’s bitterly cold outside. So, a stop by the pub is required. We finally join the queue just a few minutes before the doors open. And we go directly to Richie’s side of the stage, 2nd row.
The Ark enter the stage. And I find them even more boring than in Dublin. I don’t know. They were like… not here. I know there are plenty of fans of them around, but I’m sorry, I still can’t understand what people find to them. Finally, their last song, and the only “good” one (to me, once again): One Of Us Is Gonna Die Young. And because I’m a good girl and I know how difficult it is for a band to play and be great when the crowd doesn’t react, I sing. Yes, I sing on this song with them, when the singer ask us to sing. I’m that good.
Time for Juliette And The Licks. I love Juliette’s presence on stage. You might not like her music. But you can’t deny that she gives 200% of her when she’s here. I love her attitude. If you like Avril Lavigne, she’s definitely not for you! Since I didn’t pay attention to this band in Dublin, that’s like my first time, this night in Ally Pally. And I admit without any shame that I had much more fun with them than with the Ark.
But it’s time for the openers to go back in the backstage areas. Roadies empty the stage and set up the boys’s gear. Test everything. While they try to keep us occupied with videos on the huge screens on the sides of the stage. A-ha, Robert Palmer, Huey Lewis (for the song from Back To The Future), Aerosmith, Kiss, Led Zeppelin etc… and… Green Day. Odd! Finally the mini video with them arriving by helicopter. We’ll learn later that day (or the day after?) that they taped this part a few weeks earlier in Sweden. A couple of videos, and the medley is on again, on AC/DC’s song. At this moment, I think that after 4 nights, I might get bored of all those videos…
Anyway, the venue goes dark and Abba’s song blows in the speakers. I still can’t believe that people thought that was the pan pipes from the album. No, Abba. 70’s cheesy band. That my parents loved.
A little light behind the drums announced us that someone is showing his way to Ed. Seconds later, he begins to beat Knockers’s rhythm. I’m as excited as 3 nights before. No. I’m MORE excited that 3 nights before. I keep telling to my friend to look on the left of the stage, where Justin is going to appear in his boobies chariot.
Richie enters the stage, still at the foot of the right big horn. My heart jumps when he begins to play the bass line. He’s shortly followed by Dan who appears at the foot of the left big horn. It gives me shivers when he throws the riff. And Justin…
Justin. He’s flying in his boobs over our head and I can feel that the mood isn’t here. There’s something wrong. I can feel it. I don’t know what it is and I will never know. That’s maybe the fact that from where he is, he can see that the venue is far from being sold out. I don’t know. Anyway, I raise my eyebrow and hope that I’m wrong.
One Way Ticket, Is It Just Me, Growing On Me… The show is there. And the show is good. But not as good as expected. I’m shocked when I see Justin being lost in the setlist. It takes him foverer to figure which song they’re supposed to play. I’m confused. He finally finds what he was searching for. And the show continues. I don’t like his jokes about his belly. He isn’t fat. He’s put on weigh, none of us is going to say the contrary. But he’s NOT fat. He’s even far from that. And that’s nothing than a tour could “arrange”, anyway. But he seems so self-conscious that he makes me feel uncomfortable and sad for him…
From where I am, I can see Richie trying to relax his erm… left? wrist. He is all smile and happy and obviously enjoying the show, but he seems a bit uncomfortable with his wrist. My advice: before the show, put away all gentleman’s reading material, ok?
I can’t see Dan or Ed from where I am. Not that I wouldn’t like. But there is a giant young man on my right that blocks my view for the left side of the stage. Which annoys me terribly. I only see Dan when he switches his side with Richie, which happens ONCE during the show. And Ed… Well, he’s as usual hidden by his drums, and being the short woman that I am, I CAN’T see him. But I can hear them, that’s the most important thing, isn’t it?
I Believe In A Thing Called Love is the last song before the encore. A few minutes later, they come back on stage. And Justin begins to play on the giant organ a classical and ultra known theme that I can’t remember the name right now. The Walkiries by Wagner? Well, something like that… Shortly followed by English Country Garden. It’s a bit odd to have him up there, back to the audience, playing and singing. The organ is a great idea, décor wise, but I don’t know, it’s a bit weird when it comes to actually use it. We can see smoke going out of the pipes when he plays. That’s funny.
They finish the show with Bald. I’m completely blinded by the fireworks. Justin finishes the show as he began it. Flying over the crowd (but without the boobs). It’s funny to see him soloing upside down. He’s great! But it’s a bit tough to look at him flying in the air, while the others are still on the stage. Maybe they could all fly over the crowd, next time?
The show is finally over. It was great but… I don’t know… Something was lacking that night and I’m not sure what it was.
We slowly go out of the venue, to discover the weather has turned rainy. Cold and rainy. We’re a bit lost, none of us really knows what to do next. And we’re standing under the rain for a few (long) minutes… Finally to decide to go back to our hotel. We could have waited for a bus, but we decided to go down the hill, walking, under the rain. In the cold.

Finally, minutes later, we settle in our room. We’re 4 to stay here that night. 4 girls. If you have difficulties to figure what “fangirling” means, try to imagine 4 girls in the same room after a show talking and talking forever of THIS show, each of them with the tour programme on their knees, screaming when they look at the photos / read the text about their “favourites”. Because the “worse” thing of that night at the hotel, where 4 of us were staying, is that each one of us actually “fancies” a different member of this band. We had in the room a Justin, a Dan, a Ed and a Richie. Weird! But funny! (And I can tell you that Ed and Dan slept in the same bed that night)
We finally went to bed and I thought I was going crazy when an alarm clock went on a few hours later. I had the feeling that I had sleep for only a few minutes. Anyway, 2 of us left the room early to queue for the 2nd Ally Pally show while the 2 others stayed in bed. Guess what I did?…

So, a few hours later, we finally took the direction of Ally Pally. At 5pm. With a cab driving us here. Yes, because walking down the hill is cool, even under the rain, but walking it up is not cool. At all…

Alexandra Palace, London, February 8th.
For that night, the international crew (composed by me, the French one, an American girl and a Finnish girl) doesn’t have any ticket. Well, I HAD one, that ticketmaster never sent to me. Well, they sent it to me, but way too late. I’ll discover later that I received it, in France, on the 9th….
Anyway, as none of us as a ticket, we decide to queue earlier than the day before, to be there at the opening of the doors and of the box office (which is INSIDE the venue…). A little more than 1 hour in the cold. Very long. And when the doors open, we think that we’re saved.
In fact, we aren’t. The box office hasn’t opened yet, and the security asks us to wait on the side, until it opens. And we see all the people who arrived after us enter the venue. Really annoying. And when we’re finally let in, I’m completely pissed off at the venue, the organizers, ticketmaster and basically the entire world.
We get our tickets and walk quickly to our favourite spot. The right side of the stage. But so many people have entered before us, we’re on the 3rd row, behind some kind of a hairy giant. Not fun. By the time The Ark begin their show, we’re already on the second row. There are some nice people in this world.
The Ark. They are so MUCH better. Probably because there is a bunch of Ark fans here tonight. I can see them jump and sing and everything. They’re much more enjoyable than the shows before. And the singer finally discovers our side of the stage. After 3 shows…
The audience is all bouncy and the time flees quickly. It’s already the time for One Of Us Is Gonna Die Young. All the crowd sings. That’s great.
Juliette And The Licks. Same as usual. I have the weird feeling that she recognizes me. I enjoy their act, but I’m incredibly impatient for the boys to take the stage. Even more impatient that the nights before. This is really weird. You could think that after a few nights, you’d be jaded and bored. Not at all!
The videos put me at the agony. And I’m about to punch a guy behind me when he says “oh, they’re coming” when the video with the helicopter is played. No, they’re not. We still have to wait for another couple of videos.
When Abba is finally played. I can feel all the adrenaline runs through my body. I’m tensed, eager to see them, ready to rock.
And they’re finally here, with the same routine. Ed, then Richie, then Dan and finally Justin in his knockers chariot. As soon as he begins to sing, I can feel the night is going to be different. He seems in a good mood. In an excellent mood. That’s good, because we all have decided to have a blast tonight.
And the show is crazy. At least for us. The international crew. We had created the crappiest banners ever (we made them 30 minutes before leaving our hotel, no time to be really crafty). But they seem to enjoy them. They make them laugh. That’s the most important thing to us.
I don’t know how many picks are sent in our direction that night, but that is surely an impressive number. None of us is able to catch one, which annoys us deeply.
Not only the mood on the stage is excellent, but the crowd is also reacting to the show. Singing, jumping, dancing. Alive. The band encourages us. Richie makes us clap in our hands for every song. And after 4 or 5 songs, my hands already hurt so much that I have to blow on them to calm the pain. They keep us going, and I eventually forget the pain in my hands, in my throat (for too much screaming) and the bag between my thighs that prevents me to go with the crowd as I want.
And the show is different. For me, this is probably one of my best Darkness’s shows. They were great and that’s how I love them. Rocking furiously, but also funny and cute. Yes, that night they were utterly cute.
And when the last notes of Bald are heard, a part of me cries. This was too good and it can’t be over now. The next few minutes are like a blur for me. All I remember is Richie on his knees trying to catch his very first (I think) stage gift. A big thank you to Ricky the security guy for his help. That was really nice. And I hope our lovely bassist enjoyed his present…
At the end of the show, we are more or less pushed outside by the security, because the roadies are already disassembling the stage and the barrier. We just have time to see big blue eyes Sue W. and a charming little strawberry blonde guy. Well, we saw him the night before too, as he spent the beginning of the show at our feet, kind-of. Absolutely charming. A real cutie!
We waited outside for a few minutes. Lost. We finally went back to our hotel. Only 2 of us were staying here that night, but it was as crazy as the night before with the 2 of us chatting endlessly until we realised it was 4.30 and we were supposed to wake up 5 hours later.

That’s on Thursday, on our “day off” that I realised that we were on tour, while we were waiting for “our” car in the lobby, completely exhausted. And the drive “home”, even with 2 of my best friends in the car, was really really long… None of our chats, jokes and whatever were able to make me forget how tired I was. How broken I felt. But being on tour means also that you’re with your friends, having the time of your life. So, even if you’re tired and the only thing you want is to hide under blankets for then next 24h, you keep going, and chat and laugh and enjoy every seconds of your time.
After watching recorded tv shows and videos, I finally went to bed. Before midnight!! Woohoo! To wake up 2 hours later, having nightmares and hallucinations. Fever. Sickness. Pains in the whole body. A tour is also that. You’re so tired, you’re fragile and catch whichever bugs that were around at that time. The funny thing is that when I went downstairs to find something to calm my fever, Is It Just Me? was on TV. And I wondered for a few seconds if I weren’t hallucinating. I only remember the bum wiggling part of the video!

I woke up 7 hours later, feeling poorly and a bit afraid of the long journey to come. From Kent to Yorkshire (South east to erm North, kinda, for people not aware of UK’s geography), by London. A long day. Very long, especially when you’re sick as a dog. I was ok until St Pancras station. But everything went worse after that. And I’ve never wanted that much to be in a bed. I’ve discovered muscles in my lower back that I didn’t know they existed.
We finally arrived in our hotel. It was something like 16.30. I went directly to bed and only went out of it 22 hours later, completely voiceless with a really sore throat.
At this moment, I was seriously afraid that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the show. And when we were waiting outside in the cold, I thought that I was crazy.

Hallam Arena, Sheffield, February 11th.
I’ve been lucky enough to have been offered as a very early birthday present a ticket for the front standing area of the venue. I had a rear standing ticket (that I never received, thanks to ticketmaster, royal mail and the French post services) but that was really annoying me. And I was really relieved to have a front standing ticket when I saw the barrier in the middle of the venue. I’m still trying to figure out the reasons of this barrier…

The openers, the videos, everything went on my nerves that night. Especially when Juliette jumped over me and hit me with her shoes. As if I wasn’t feeling bad enough. But finally, after what seemed to me a very long time, the lights went off. And they were there. On stage.

And then, I immediately forget how ill I am. How sore my throat is. How tired and broken I feel. No, I’m just enjoying the show, like any other nights. Well, I don’t sing as much as the previous nights. But the feeling is here. And I feel good.
The setlist is the same. And as soon as a song finishes, I’m already waiting for the next one, knowing exactly which one they’re going to play. I laugh at Justin’s jokes. And by the middle of their show, I’m finally able to drag myself on the front row. I can finally see Ed. And Dan. I find myself staring at Ed, he’s so funny to look at. And Dan. Dan is always the same. Head banging. With hair flying all around. I don’t see them, but I can feel that the Dan crazy fans (no offence here) are on the edge of a collective orgasm.
I can feel the heat of the flames during Black Shuck. And I wonder how they do to manage it, because they’re all really close from the flames. Especially Ed, who’s just under them. I also curse the security for not having water. With the heat of the pyros and my cough, I really could do with a bit of water.
I know I don’t look like I’m enjoying the show as I used to do the nights before. But in my head, I am enjoying it, it’s just that I don’t have the physical strength to jump and dance and sing along all the songs. And I’m keeping my strength for my favourite song (from their last album).
Finally it arrives. Girlfriend. I know it’s the last time in a (very) long time that I’m going to hear it live. My heart is pounding. I don’t know if it’s the fever or just a mix of very strong emotions. I dance, and jump and sing as much as I can. I love this song. And the live version is even better than the studio one.
But it’s over soon. The show is over soon. That’s my last show on this tour, and I already feel sad and nostalgic. But with plenty of excellent memories to keep me warm.
I walk out of the venue with one of Richie’s picks in my pocket. It has fallen just at my feet, after hitting the barrier just where I was. And a security man has been nice enough to give it to me.
I think it’s still in my purse, more than 2 weeks after the show!

We finally went back to our hotel where we celebrate the end of our tour together by having Champagne and Cake. We also decide to check out early and have a king’s breakfast in one of the poshiest place in Sheffield.
We all passed out in the car (except our driver, thanks god) on our way back to London. The mood at Heathrow was weird. Everything went so quickly and it was hard to believe that it was already over. A bit difficult to think that the day after, we were all going back to our “normal” lives.

I’m back here. It’s been 2 weeks. And all I can think about is “When are we going to do that again?” “Following” a band like that is more than just going to shows and enjoying their stage presence. It’s also being with your friends and having a lot of fun.
This tour cost me a lot of time and money. I could have spent my week off work tanning on a beach of Tunisia or Morocco, that even would have been cheaper… I’m not tanned, I’ve been sick like I’ve never been before, and my bank account is slightly scaring, but I don’t regret it one single second!