Motörhead – Win Live DVD and CDs

Motörhead, noisemakers extraordinaire, are releasing a second live extravaganza on DVD and 2 CDs on 24th September.  The Wörld is Ours Vol 2 – Anyplace Crazy as Anywhere Else was recorded in 2011 at Sonisphere (July), the headline appearance at Wacken Festival (August) and Rock in Rio (September).

If you want to get your rock mitts on this little package of mayhem, just answer the following questions.

1. Who designed the iconic Motörhead logo?

2. What is a motörhead? (Oh come on. That one you can do in your sleep.)

3. Hawkwind released ‘Motörhead’ as an A-side single. What was the B-side?

Easy as headbanging, innit. Send your answers to optimum.impact.rocks@gmail.com, pm OI’s Facebook page, or DM me on Twitter. Lovely. Ready for a bit of the hard stuff?

Anyone wanting to also experience this in a more physical way can get dirty in person on the European tour in November and December.

 

Entries are restricted to the UK, and my decisions are final, etc.

 

The Darkling Sonnet

Just a bit of fun that grew out of a tinker – bit tricky sticking to the original scansion. I liked it so I thought I’d keep it somewhere safe.

How do I love thee? Let me count the riffs.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
Justin’s voice can reach, when soaring out of sight
To the ends of hearing and highleaping grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most rocking need, by volume control found.
I love thee freely, as men strive for sound.
I love thee surely, as men turn from crap.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my dancing, and with my singing out of tune.
I love thee for a rock we seemed to lose
With rock’s lost saints. With my breath I love thee,
Smiles, tears, of my fandom; and, if Hope choose,
I shall love thee better after album three.

Many apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

 

The Darkness – Hot Cakes Album Review

2012 in the UK has had some momentous moments, one way or another. One of the more startlingly wonderful ones is due on 20th August – a new album from The Darkness. Previously a thing of Darkling dreams/longing, it’s now a thing of reality. REAL reality won’t happen until I have the precious bits of plastic/vinyl in my hands, but they’re so very nearly here!

Whilst the interminable wait ticks by, minute by minute, I cheated. Thank the Lords of Rock for Rolling Stone’s stream, which is on (manual) loop.

YouTube, streams and the official releases have been your friend over the last months. Fans are familiar with the thrust of the whole new thang, if not with the fine detail. By now, Hot Cakes has become a favourite acquaintance with whom you are about to become very much more intimate. You’re going to delve and explore what you thought you knew, savour the discovery of the unknown, slowly peel away layers of sweet rock to uncover more enticements.

Back to Darkness basics. This is a far cleaner and stripped back production than OWTTH…AB, as promised. Nick Brine’s expertise comes in very handy when applying clarity and restraint to the natural Darkness leanings to excess. It works beautifully – controlled musicianship with the underlying promise of glorious chaos highlighted. There’s a delicacy of touch, in Forbidden Love particularly, that’s delightful to witness.

In fact, that song’s a treasure. Seems like a slip of a thing, but it has plenty of strength. Living Each Day Blind is an epic rocker made for the stage, easy to get lost in. Classic rock lives on in Keep Me Hanging On, which was the personal surprise of the album – great vocals. Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us brings its normal moshy anthemic  joyousness, rising to the trademark crescendo of sound and voice. Concrete – a crowd favourite for over a year – wonderfully headbangy with stupendous rock screams to finish. With a Woman has a damnably catchy chorus and great lyrics and should be a live hit with the way it builds. She’s Just a Girl, Eddie is another crowd favourite already. Street Spirit has long been a little Darkling treasure, and fully deserves its inclusion. The original is fairly iconic, but this version will become the definitive version for a different audience. It’s a song that asks to be screamed out with frustration, despair and longing, and pretty much gets it.

The two releases – Every Inch Of You and Everybody Have a Good Time have intros that instantly mark the songs as TD’s own brand – no mistaking them for anyone else’s. Very different in tone, as a pair they are TD embodied. Fun, serious, defiant, feelgood, loud, potty mouthed and utterly relative to everyone’s lives. With some nice dirty guitar solos and falsettos thrown in, whom else could it be?

The stream includes the long version of Cannonball which has some more delicate touches than the full blown live extravaganza, but is brilliant in its own right. There is also an acoustic demo versionof I Can’t Believe It’s Not Love, which quite frankly is one of the best songs they’ve ever done. It could be performed in any version and still stand up, and the lyrics are some of the most adept.  The other demo version is of Love Is Not The Answer, which is on the album ‘proper’ in the final cut version which shows off Justin’s vocal prowess beautifully – but I think that this acoustic version actually suits the song and its sentiments better. Or maybe just suits my temperament? I prefer it anyway.

Pat Pong, one of the more bizarre things TD have done, is happily there as a mastered version. It’s such a great thing to listen to – ‘with both sets of genitalia’ is a lyric I’ll not forget – just so wonderfully TD. It was great live at the 100 Club, and deserves to be heard live again!

The album, as always, is about life and love, and sticking your two fingers up at both of the buggers because even when it’s going right, disaster is not so far away. Or vice versa. Especially that Love stuff – should be approached with caution as it can get you into a whole lot of joy/mess/trouble (the path of true love never runs smooth, so if it’s less than true love and more of a eye for a roll in the hay, take care. Just in case,  like).  Thank heaven, though, for the spirit that bore Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us ten years ago, because without it, there would be no Darkness – this time OR last.

Whatever your Darkness preferences, they are catered for. Slow and seductive, hard and fast, enthusiastic, bouncy and energetic. You will have in your hands something that you can enjoy over and over again, alone or with likeminded individuals. Just don’t try and keep quiet during the process.

Fan bundles are still available, and  iTunes, Amazon etc also all have lovely things ready to ship to you.

Hot Cakes – The Darkness reveal size of bun(dle)s in oven

 

Presales of The Darkness’ new album have been available for a few days now, but  fan bundle news has been released today. If they don’t appeal (and why not??) then there are lots of other places to buy – I ‘borrowed’ the links below from TD’s site.

PLAY.COM [UK] PREORDER WITH EXCLUSIVE LIMITED EDITION SEW-ON PATCH

NEWBURY COMICS [USA] PREORDER WITH LIMITED SIGNED CD BOOKLET

AMAZON HOT CAKES PREORDER

iTUNES DELUXE DOWNLOAD with BONUS TRACKS

HMV.CO.UK HOT CAKES PREORDER

and some others :

CD: http://smarturl.it/hotcakescd
CD Deluxe: http://smarturl.it/hotcakescddeluxe
LP: http://smarturl.it/hotcakeslp

 

 

Darkcomp #3

 

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I wasn’t expecting to do another one so soon, but Laurie Whitecloud donated this prize so it would be churlish not to let someone have it!

To win this signed T (black, size large, US tour dates on back (1st visit) ) all you need to do is use the upload form above to submit photos of your Darkness related tattoos, or design a new  one! Open to the whole wide world.

Prize!

Entries will be judged on Friday 15th June, after the Sweden/England game. Good luck!   

Darkwatch #Anniversary

Celebrations have been loud and plentiful this weekend, I suppose you’ve noticed. Days off, parties, outings, rain – all the usual Bank Holiday gubbins. However, hidden amongst all the Jubilee extravaganzas, there’s a small but very significant anniversary that deserves a mention too.

A year ago, The Darkness played their first gig together after 5 years.

It wasn’t hard to judge the response on the night, or the clamouring for all things TD before, during and after it. Since then,  things have happened thick and fast. Download, which proved that the appetite for Dark is still strong. The UK and Ireland tour that delighted us all on home soil – especially the BRIAN MAY GIG (capitals a must there). America’s first taste for many years went so well that they got seconds, with Australia going nuts for what they’ve wanted and never thought they’d get. I think we thought TD had hit it big with the Samsung Superbowl commercial, because it was a bloody brilliant piece of exposure.

But HELLFIRE, wtf? Lady Gaga’s announcement of her support acts blew everything out of the water for everyone. TD are probably still pinching themselves, never mind what Monsters and Darklings are doing. It’s going to be a hell of a tour.

We had about long enough for a whole weekend recovery before album news started to emerge – dates, name, tracklist, single, video, next single news, confirmation that limited edition bundles will be available. Whatever you think of the name and the track listing, it’s going to be here and on your media player in just over 2 months. Things are as they are. We HAVE an album coming that’s going to shape Darklinghood for months and months ahead.

The year’s been a good one. Dave Ashworth, Darkling of over a decade’s standing, says ‘its been a bit of a quiet reunion in many ways, I guess because they’ve aimed to hit so many areas so soon and do the album.’ Agreed. There’s been a definite lack of blaring fanfare, more of doing the job – it was going to take a lot of effort to re-establishing the base before World Domination restarted , and they’ve never let up. Not for a minute, either onstage, on task  or online. It’s been loud where it needed to be, and quietly determined in other areas. So much hard work in one year, and don’t forget the management, crew, PR or anyone else. Festival season started this last weekend and from here, it’s all go until October and the Lady Gaga tour ends.

Raise your glasses and hats to The Darkness, today, and remember how we got here before taking a breath and wondering…

What the fuck’s next? 

 

Hot Cakes – The Darkness publish album tracklist

Hot Cakes is out on 20th August, so get your budget sorted.

The track list is confirmed as:

‘Every Inch of You’
‘Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us’
‘With A Woman’
‘Keep Me Hangin’ On’
‘Living Every Day Blind’
‘Everybody Have A Good Time’
‘She Just A Girl Eddie’
‘Forbidden Love’
‘Concrete’
‘Street Spirit’
‘Love Is Not The Answer’

 

‘With a Woman’ was confirmed in Kerrang! today as being the next single, out on 30th July.

ChameleonsVox – The Cockpit, Leeds – 11.5.12

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.

ChameleonsVox. 

 

Competition Time

A few weeks ago, deep in the USA tour, a kind Miss Laurie Darkling undertook to get a copy of High Voltage mag featuring The Darkness signed, specially for an OI comp prize. Lo, here it is – after transit, checking that it was ok to run the comp, and a rather inconvenient and lengthy dose of that Real Life stuff.

Laurie asked them to do it for OI  (Dan’s actually signed it to me!), so it’s not something that I just picked up – it was all planned with you lot in mind. Some of you, at any rate. Shoot me if you want, but I decided that American and Australian Darklings were having their tours this year, and would get a chance to see and chat to the lads. So, UK and Europe people, this one’s for you. There is the Lady Gaga tour and festivals for us, but not a headlining tour (that we know about, not for months at any rate).

Here’s a photo – this issue was given out free during the last US tour.  Check out www.iamhighvoltage.com to subscribe and join their mailing list (they have a new issue out now) I know they ship outside the US as I have my own (unsigned) copy :) .

This is only a little thing, but it’s genuine and a fairly rare piece of tour memorabilia.

High Voltage

The Darkness issue

The winner will be whoever comes up with the best idea for the competition to win it. UK and Europe only, please! Answer by comment below. ♥  Deadline date is… I’ll give you 10 days, so 9pm GMT on May 14th. GO!

 

 

The Rite of Spring EP – O.W.L.S.

O.W.L.S. have an EP out today. Their first. It’s available almost everywhere, so you need to go and get it.

There’s a wonderfully controlled wildness about O.W.L.S., which is rather apt, don’t you think?  I recall saying that I like a little bit of dirt and scratch left on my soul by music, when I reviewed their first gig, and I stand by that. There’s enough grunge grate in vocals, feedback scrape of strings, to do that job admirably. There are some delicate touches here and there, little bits of bright guitar and beat slipping in and out of the heavy storm. Not any old maelstrom, but one that morphs from relentless assault to full-on attack, the manic of Kibosh to the laid back (relatively) Vitamins. Hurt Janine has a smoothness to the delivery that belies the slight sneer I can hear. Only Joking gives a darn fine idea of what is and what will happen to your ears through the whole Rite. Every now and again a ghost of wholesome american 60’s pop sweeps by, but it’s given a thorough grunging over until it feels as dirty as the rest.

Everything was recorded live, which is how this really needs to be heard to get everything from it, so let’s hope there are gigs near us all soon. Tight band without being anal about it, well crafted and honed songs, rock in spades and grunge in bucketfuls. That’s a bloody good deal, and this is a bloody good debut EP.

Track listing:

Only Joking

Hurt Janine

Leave a Light Over My Grave

Vitamins

Kibosh

One In The Chamber

A Day At The Beach

(Stravinsky’s ballet ‘The Rites of Spring’ caused a riot at its first performance. A good hard mosh is much more sensible, kids.)

Thoughts gone Gaga

This morning, Darklings were ready and waiting for the announcement promised for today, mostly expecting (not unreasonably) some news about the album release date, maybe some gigs to look out for. Lady Gaga’s little monsters were also waiting for news on her Born This Way Ball tour dates in Europe. Neither had ANY idea that the news was going to involve each other… At 7.30 this morning, Capital FM’s site posted the tweeted news that The Darkness would be supporting Lady Gaga on 21 European dates through August to  October. Two were in the UK – London and Manchester – and a third in Dublin. Retweeted, it flew round the Darkling set.

Twitter went into an absolute frenzy. Both Darklings and monsters were relaying their shock, awe, amazement, and initial disbelief. WTF? REALLY? It came like a bolt from the blue, this one. Leftfield.  Both sets of UK fans were split pretty much down the middle. Awestruck wonder and fairly vehement disgust were both expressed, along with disappointment. There weren’t many neutrals. A good many monsters will need a bit of a Darkness learning curve by all accounts. Some had set off to download albums and watch youtube – result! For over 5 hours ‘The Darkness’ trended worldwide, longer in the UK.

Let’s take ‘Awestruck wonder’ then, first. Why? Being fans of both helped with that one, to start with. If you are, then this is going to be one special night! Then there’s the ‘The Darkness/Lady Gaga gig’ phenomenon, whichever one you prefer. An expensive one, but Gaga gigs are few and far between here at any time, and Darkness ones also this year, so far. Then once those feelings had ebbed, and the bank balance had been checked, there were so many other things to consider.

This is a HUGE thing for TD to have secured. Main support to a woman of international renown, critically acclaimed, and truly individual. There’s no one like her right now, and she has power. She also has brains, and if she wants TD on HER tour, then she has good sound reasons for doing so. Impeccable taste, too, obviously. The amount of exposure that this will give TD is so immense it can’t be quantified. Not only will they get the captive audience exposure to thousands, but the PR benefits are just staggering. Even just being associated with the tour is like a rocket launch – especially as Justin tweeted in the middle of this afternoon that the album will be out this summer, which is before or as this tour starts for them. The Samsung SuperBowl ad has been blown out of the water!  Next up is the creativity bit. Apparently the stage set took 18 months to build. Now, if you’ve got a main act who can pull off the sort of stuff that Gaga does, aren’t you going to take a little advantage of that when it comes to your own stage act? I doubt the stage will be completely bare for TD. I doubt the general atmosphere will encourage toned down costumes and restrained performances. Oh wow.. the costumes… I think that we’re going to see something very special, in all sorts of ways. I also think that actually, these two acts aren’t so very dissimilar and that they will understand and gel with each other very well. They seem to me to have the same sort of attitudes and desires in what they do and what they give to their fans. This has the potential to be completely mental, in a stupendous way. Bring it on.

I don’t want to do the ‘fairly vehement disgust’ bit. Leaves a bad taste in the mouth. But why oh why is this tour such bad news for some people? It’s true that the album news Darklings want was not what emerged today. Nor was a list of UK and Europe tour dates. Since when has THAT been an excuse for some of the things I’ve seen today? I can’t  comment on some of Gaga fans’ comments. They have their likes and dislikes, and some wanted another band instead. BUT… I didn’t want to believe  some of the things I read from both sides. Losing respect for their idol for arranging this. Saying that you’re not going to see your idol because TD/Gaga would spoil it. Accusations of selling out. Pouting and stamping feet because things weren’t going their way.  Objections because the other band just weren’t right for ‘your’ band. TD knew this was going to divide people, and their small warning wasn’t without substance. Sadly.

Sheesh. This is a tour, and a damn prestigious one. It’s not a joining at the hip. It’s going to be a learning curve on both sides in some degree, it’s going to be incredibly beneficial for bands and fans alike in one way or another. No one is losing any credibility and no one will have a career damaged. I hope people get their heads round this, because this IS happening.

Justin said:

“It was put to me as a question – do we want to be a main support band on one of the biggest – if not the biggest – stadium, worldwide mega-tours that have ever been? And, I think I replied, ‘Yes please’.

“It was really straight forward.”

and Frankie added on FB: Haha, well said Justin! Why would The Darkness shy away from something this ridiculous?

And it is, gloriously so. Right up The Darkness’ street.

Gaga for The Darkness

Quite right, too.

Capital FM have this morning broken news that The Darkness will be supporting Lady Gaga on the UK and European legs of her world tour. Tweets have flown, with both Justin and TD retweeting the link, though uberofficial confirmation still to come. This from their site:

 ‘Marry The Night’ star confirms details of gigs in London and Manchester as part of European dates. Lady Gaga has announced two UK dates as part of her ‘Born This Way Ball’ world tour.

The gigs, at London’s Twickenham Stadium on 8th September and Manchester Arena on 11th September, will mark the ‘Marry The Night’ star’s biggest ever shows in Britain. They form part of the European leg of the ‘Born This Way Ball’ tour, which kicks off in Bulgaria on 14th August and includes a show at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on 15th September. The European dates are currently set to conclude in Barcelona, Spain on 6th October.

Support at all of the European shows, including those in the UK, will come from The Darkness and Lady Starlight.

Ticket prices will range from £50-£80 for London and £60-£80 for Manchester.

Gigwise state that tickets for the two UK dates will be on sale on Friday 13th April, though if I were you I’d check out ticket sites for presale dates.

Lady Gaga tweeted these tour dates:

 

Darkwatch #USA

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.  

Laurie’s U.S. Tour Diary – The Darkness, Foxy Shazam, Crown Jewel Defense (Pt 2)

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

 

 

 

New TD dates for US

Direct from TD’s Facebook:

The bewitching hour is upon us with more show announcements at the helm. The following shows will have a special Facebook presale on Wednesday, March 7th at 10am CST as well:

May 23rd – New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues New Orleans
May 27th – Dallas, TX @ House of Blues Dallas

You need to Like the page to get any presale details, if you haven’t already.

O.W.L.S – Prince Albert, Brighton 24.2.12

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:

Hurt Janine
Adayatthebeach
Leave A Light Over My Grave
Only Joking
One In The Chamber
Vitamins
Kibosh

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: