PTL 10th Anniversary – Dave Winkler, Renegade Playboys

Darkness Rising – A view from the wings

The first time I saw The Darkness was at a wedding reception. I went to see them at the Barfly In Camden Town a few weeks earlier. A good mate of mine had been raving about them, but he generally loved every other new Camden band, so I wasn’t convinced. During the support band my girlfriend at the time complained she was ill, or maybe she had just had too much to drink, so I ended up missing them to drive her home, much to my regret. We broke up the following day, though not for that reason.

The wedding reception gig was good fun, though they only played about four songs, including a hilarious cover of Knowing Me Knowing You by Abba. However, the show that really made an impact on me was the second time I saw them, again at their second home at the time, the Barfly.

Image-wise Justin, tattooed and shirtless in skin-tight jeans and big furry boots, was the only one at this stage who had fully made the Rock N’ Roll transition from the band’s indie roots. So at first I was sceptical that this was another local alt-rock band that liked AC/DC a bit. The track, Live Til I Die, which has sadly yet to make an album, was what made me prick my ears up. However, mid-way through the set they launched into Love Is Only a Feeling. I admired any band who, much like my own, had the balls to play an full-on power ballad in the sarcastic centre of Camden in mid-2001. At this point they had entirely won me over.

I Believe in A Thing Called Love had yet to make the set, if I remember correctly, but Love On The Rocks was a great closing number, and Justin’s energy and enthusiasm throughout was really infectious. I remember having a discussion with some friends outside the pub afterwards that these guys could be the ones who really do something big, not realising it would actually happen.

After getting to know the guys, I helped promote a show in Hackney where my own band, Renegade Playboys, would support them. This would have been around the early Summer of 2002. The amusing thing was that the Darkness were not who we had planned as headliners. Anti-Product were opening the main stage at OzzFest at the time so they pulled out on us. Sack Trick couldn’t make it, we even asked the B-Movie Heroes because one of them was in a vaguely famous Wildhearts-related band. The Darkness were our last choice. Less than a year later they would be headlining a sold-out Astoria, the same month Anti-Product played to a half full Underworld.

The Hackney Ocean show was under-promoted, it was great fun but we only played to a half full three-hundred capacity room. What is interesting is that, just a month later, the Playboys again supported the Darkness at the Underworld, just five miles away, and they completely sold the place out to the extent there were queues round the block, some of our own crowd didn’t get in until the band after us had finished! I was informed by the Underworld staff that this was the largest crowd an unsigned band had pulled for over a decade, at this point it was obvious there was no turning back for the band.

It was around this time that outside the Dublin Castle, Dan and Justin were handing out demos to their friends. A demo that soon became more than a demo, as it contained the unmastered versions of Love Is Only A Feeling, Love On The Rocks With No Ice, and their signature I Believe In A Thing Called Love, the very recordings that made it onto permission to land. These were produced by Pedro Ferreira, who at the time doubled as their sound man, and tripled as the bloke who carried Justin through the crowd during the Love On The Rocks solo! I managed to get my hands on a copy, it might have been the same night that Dan was talking about having sword-fighting midgets in their first video, or something!

From this point onwards things moved very quickly for the guys, a Kerrang! Weekender here, a Wildhearts support there, the I Believe In A Thing Called Love single was released the first time round, I ended up in a 2 year relationship with a Swedish girl I met at a Darkness show in Oxford Street. Love is Only a Feeling became ‘our song’.

And then, the legendary London Astoria show. The Darkness, Ten Benson and us. We were offered it ahead of some of their label mates simply because they liked us. It was originally going to be at the Astoria 2, but that sold out in a week. I was in my parents’ kitchen when I got a call from Justin and Sue Whitehouse saying it had been moved to the Astoria. “Ok mate, great news” I said, thinking I knew what was coming next, “I guess you’ll be wanting a bigger opening band then?”. Justin replied “No you guys are still on the bill, we’re gonna pack it out anyway!” Or something to that effect. It was more than ten years ago! I was Twenty-two years old. In my naïve mind this meant I was about to become a Rock Star.

The show was amazing. We were on at 7pm and the place was already packed out. I think some of the younger kids at the front thought we were the Darkness themselves, as we got a massive roar when we walked out onstage, it was absolutely electric. Sadly my wallet got stolen that night so I missed most of their set, whilst cancelling my bank card. It was an amazing night though, and sadly the only time I would ever get to play the Astoria, which has now been destroyed by Transport For London along with two other venues where I saw the Darkness play.

Three months later, and ten years ago this week, Permission To Land was released. Thirty-eight minutes of adrenalized, kick-ass Rock N Roll (and a couple of Power Ballads for safe measure). I bought it from HMV the week it came out with a £10 voucher I got for my birthday, I thought it was fair of me to (sort of) pay for it, rather than try and blag one, given all the opportunities the guys had afforded me. I saw less and less of Dan, Justin and Frankie in real life, and more of them on TV. Ed could though usually be found at the Dublin Castle or the Good Mixer in Camden on a Friday night when he wasn’t on tour.

To my awareness, they haven’t played any wedding receptions since.


Thanks to Dave for assaulting his memory banks in the name of Darkness.

For more contributors, click here

The Darkness – UK Cakes, fresh from the oven

Setting out on another tour is a strange and wondrous thing. And, if you’ve just remembered where the important things are hat should be in your bag, a bit annoying as well. It still feels odd to be off on a Darkness tour – brilliant, but odd in a wide eyed and still disbelieving way. Having a Darkness headline show all to ourselves is a something to be held to our collective breasts and cherished. There have been plenty of gigs, mind. Just none (two) of them here, and none (oh ok, TWO) just Darkness.

Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball had the lion’s share of Summer and Autumn. I’m not a great fan of stadium gigs as I prefer to be in a dark place, with walls and floor and banging acoustics, not outside with wind dictated sound and even big screens looking like matchboxes, never mind the stage. Gaga views were restricted further by the extended stage walkways – made for a fabulous extravaganza with boundless energy and amazing dancing – but even from the (non monster pit) front barriers I saw all that on a screen. It was an amazing show. I fully endorse Gaga’s stand against prejudices and for the right to be who you are. But… The show will look better on DVD. I’m glad I went, but I ONLY went to see TD. Now, they rocked, from the view available. They did a solid, professional job, got the crowd on their side rocking and singing, and Justin dropped his trousers. They never underperform.

America, then, to fill in a few US gaps after Christmas. That’s where it got back to normal. Reports and videos show the wildest, rockiest shows yet. TD have never been a band to stand idly around, but they seem to have outdone themselves with more energy than ever. Justin hurling himself around and Dan coming to the fore have got people talking, and they love it. Is this new confidence? A conscious decision to kick ass harder? Or a natural reaction to crazy crowds? Maybe there’s a sense of ‘second chance, let’s go do it harder, faster, louder this time’ ? I can’t wait to see it, at last.

Will I, though? Tonight, I’m in Sheffield for the first gig. It’s seated. There will be no crowd surfing or balcony jumps. The crowd walk will be a little tricky. There will be SEATS. If I had known that before I’d bought my tickets I would have thought twice. I’d still have gone because it’s The Darkness, but for ME to even consider not going, unless I physically can’t, is a wrong state of affairs. It’s going to be a strange experience. I’m expecting great music, passion, superb playing, banter and silliness and the sense of being home. I’m also expecting the atmosphere to be a slight step away from the norm.

Oh, what the hell. They’re here. A TD gig is a thing of strange and unconventional beauty, so I shall gladly go and fill my soul with it. More later.


Phillip Rogers is a dedicated sort of man. Earlier this year he took his convictions in his hands, examined them closely, and found them worthy of doing something about. What followed was just a bit of a whirlwind…

Finding little joy in the UK music scene, he decided that it needed a bit of  an arsekick. Where on earth was a home for unknown and unsigned bands? Who was championing the cause of the talented but largely unheard?  Hmm… and in the best traditions of those blessed with vision, courage and a bit of madness, he did something about it.

BritRockArmy is the result of the musings, and the start of something else. Reviews and interviews are breeding like rabbits on the blog.  Just a few short months after the first post, there’s an event showcasing bands, including acoustic sets, happening at the Birmingham Roadhouse on Sunday 11th November (see flyer below). A compilation album of donated tracks is in progress  – the tracks are being whittled down, and this is proving to be a hard job.  ‘BritRockArmy – Uprising’ (temporary title!) is to be a double album, and voting for the 15 bands to appear on Part 2’s People’s Choice is underway on Facebook .

BritRockArmy marches on behalf of everyone in music  – we are all in it together, and one part can’t exist without the other.  If you have anything to say, need a place to play, want to praise/promote/play your trade, then there’s room to do it.

A great example of following your dreams. Long may BritRockArmy fight for music’s unknown soldiers.


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.


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? 


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.

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.  

Darkwatch #11 3/4

Stop Press! 

TD confirm today by Twitter: 

Good news! We’re premiering “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us” (new song + video) on Weds morning (9am EST).

That’s 2pm for the UK.

I forgot where we’d got to on these, so I made it up. Here we go then – a round up of some stuff you already know, but in one short bit of waffle.

So… America it is, this week. After a good few donkeys, four lads are off to plant metaphorical and musical Lowestoft flags all over the States.  Judging by the speed of the ticket sales and adding of new dates, America is as hungry for TD as a Black Shuck after a hard day at the church door. Good luck over there – busy tour schedule and travelling alone look quite daunting, but I guess they’re used to that sort of thing by now. There are some great fans waiting to see The Darkness for the first time – some I’ve known for 7 years or so – and the tizzy level is getting out of control in some quarters (with justification!). While that’s in the last stages of prep, there’s plenty else to be going on with.

Check out Judge Dredd Megazine  (link to info) which features TD  in American Reaper. Interesting, if slightly bizarre. I haven’t read 2000 AD since I was a slip of  a lass, when 2000 seemed a lifetime away! Also check out (if you can get it) High Voltage magazine (also see @highvoltagemag) as they have a TD special. It’ll be on sale on tour, if I read that right.

More news – The Darkness are sponsoring a local roller derby team, The Norfolk Brawds. Both Ed and Dan have been seen sporting their Tshirts, which are pretty fine. That’s got to be one of the best sponsorships ever – last time round it was a racing car. Ace, but not quite as cool as this. Justin has also been quoted as saying he wrote three songs about the Lowestoft fishing industry declining, via

Best thing, though, as revealed yesterday – new music and new video is  to be unveiled this week. A photo of little teeny Darkness figures have been posted as a little teaser – look out for those on eBay one day. A new Darkness release! The wait (phase 2) is almost over. Best, BEST news.

Some Twitter  tour fun has also been promised, so set your mobile alerts.

Have I missed anything? Umm… probably.


Darkround 2011

A year ago, we weren’t on a high, we were in a hiatus. 2011 started, in Darkness related terms, with quiet and wonderings and maybe even quiet wonderings. There was no news from any camp, though interest was still high in the doings of the then ex-members of The Darkness. Strangely, January last year saw a huge jump in Stone Gods Temple viewings, still unexplained, as there were no hints or gossip at that time.

At the time, though, the ex-members were either no longer ex or hovering on the brink of slipping right back in to their original places. Even the rumours had died down – for a while. There were hints and signs and portents to be read, but you’d have to have been employed or damn close to have been absolutely 100% sure that you KNEW it was going to happen. Anyone else was just aiming for being Nostradamus rather than Mystic Meg.

The longer there was no news from Stone Gods and Hot Leg (for whatever reason) the more possibility there seemed to be of a… something.  Those two bands filled the Darkness gap admirably. I can’t imagine having had two better things come from what was a hell of an implosion.  Both bands were my passion, for different, various and odd little reasons.  They are still badly missed and I  wish we could still have them, somehow… it wasn’t to be.  I wanted success for them both, and the final absolute confirmation (long since known) that they had truly gone gave a fair few conflicting feelings, I can tell you.

There wasn’t any doubt about the joy that the Reformation brought, however.  And no doubt that it would be a success.  The first three were a given, with so many people wanting to see the boys back. Either you were a diehard there, or a diehard listening and desperately waiting for the tour or for Download. Yeah.. Download. Not many bands who five years ago had been consigned to the scrap heap by hacks and illwishers get offered Download as a comeback. Pretty nifty! Someone up there had faith in them.  By the Rock Gods, they nailed it.  Thousands singing along, radiating almost visible goodwill vibes back at the stage. More to the point, thousands willing to say how great that performance was and start the mass fuelling of the Darkfires.

The October 100 club gig was one that will live in legend.

The November UK tour and Ireland Weekender proved that sellouts are still probable, that the shows are still bloody brilliant, and that the deepseated, long dormant support is still there. Many people came for nostalgia and left with the NOW.  First timers came because they thought they had lost out before, and weren’t disappointed.  And a good sprinkling of people who clearly thought (eavesdropping in queues is great) that actually, TD weren’t THAT bad first time round REALLY. No, really. Just that everyone took the piss, innit, but ya know there was always a soft spot… they were better than you think they’re going to be, yeah? Brian May moments at Hammersmith – more legendary moments, laced with awe and wonder – for the audience, as well. 

The tour over,  December was the time to start revealing other little treasures all newly polished.  A slot at the Isle of Wight festival in June, the first of the summer outings confirmed.  An American/Canadian tour – 3 weeks of flashing (not literally..?) round the continent in February.  Thanks to a genius Facebook event, several  shows sold out their presale, often in minutes, as they went online as and when the timezone hit 9am. Fascinating to watch! The general sales went even better, resulting in an extra New York date being added.  As I type, announcements regarding Vancouver, Seattle and Portland are promised for tomorrow (9th January). The Darkness don’t seem to have lost any of their appeal across the pond. I predict that after this tour and working on the album there, it might be hard to get them back, as I think the desire for all things Dark will be intense.

In the next few weeks and months, then, we can hope for news about a single and album release dates, the actual dates, a UK tour, more festival dates… busy busy busy, and all in a very good way.  Let’s let them get on with it at their own pace. They know what they’re doing, and that doesn’t involve sitting on their arses. Whatever comes in 2012, it will rock the shit out of everything The Darkness meet.

Darkwatch #1

I thought we’d have a bit of a round up of recent Darklife. Not that anyone has missed anything, I’m sure, but someone might pop by who wants to know what the Lowestoft Four are doing.

So, the last time I posted, the new TD website was in a holding pattern, and breath was being held. Then one lovely Sunday morning, new things appeared. Contact details, and  MERCHANDISE. A brand new vintage Tshirt, based firmly on the classic logo/stage plan one from 2003. Ten minutes later, mine was all paid for and I was nearly in trouble for not paying attention to the males of the household demanding lunch. They duly arrived during that week – all lovely soft cotton and perfect logo. Smiles all round as realisation sets in – this isn’t a replica, or a reprint, or a nostalgia buy. It’s real. NEW. The first tangible thing. Mind you – have said it already elsewhere – they are cut slightly on the generous size, even for men, surely? Will be wearing my new TD dress as soon as possible! I’m sure we’ll get some that are more in tune with the female form in due course, as TD were alway pretty good with merch before.

Next up, and two days later… there had been a lot of speculation about whether they’d play Download, way before the official ‘we’re baaaaaack’ announcement. Every lineup announcement scrutinized. Finally, though, early last Tuesday morning, Download’s announcement came through and a little later, TD’s own. The Darkplace buzzed, plans made, day tickets wished for, weekend tickets bought. Precious belongings were sold (I assume games console thingies are precious?) to finance trips. Back on stage – a nice big one – right back where they should be.

There has been a fair amount of press attention, and most of it positive – even the NME joining in! Well done that lad wot wrote it. A few little snippets of interview, on the local telly  – a great start. Hopefully TD are pleased with the reception of the news. Much better to start with the good vibes flowing than having to withstand flak before even a note is heard. I have a feeling that there won’t be so much vitriol and dismissal this time around. Perhaps those first notes will be listened to with a tad more respect? And if not by people holding kindly disposed attitudes, at least they might be more willing to listen first with open minds? One can but hope.

So far, so good. One Tshirt, One gig, One very hairy photo.


Oh, and Frankie is looking for

Anyone interested in selling, lending or renting out a Gibson Thunderbird Bass Guitar?

So do seek him out on Facebook if you have.


Rebirth, Relaunch, Rededicate

I asked recently for fans’ thoughts on the Rebirth of The Darkness, so it’s only fair to do some work myself!

So… well. Oh LORD… we are so close to the Relaunch. So fucking close. Every time I think of it, it gives me a little shiver. I have a bounce in my step, a wide grin. My colleagues are already sick to death of hearing about it – either that or I’m getting patted on the head affectionately (well I hope so).  My husband has had fair warning and is still smiling.  Cats are a bit puzzled, but they sense something big is afoot.

Does it seem like a dream? Well, kinda. At the moment it’s all anticipation and preparation and planning of all kinds – much like the band themselves, I guess.  Work isn’t dreaming. Websites aren’t castles in the sky. The dream moment when I have to pinch myself will be at the first gig I can get to, standing there in the moments before they come on stage, just before the intro music. Oh, please,  RockGod, let it be ‘Arrival’!  Then, it will be time for a ‘quiet’ moment of ‘is this REAL? Say it is, say it is… ‘ and I KNOW I will have a lump in my throat. Every nerve will be on alert. I’ll have been nervous on the way, praying for everything to go right. If it’s the actual first gig, it’ll be a such a special night. Those nights for SG and HL were very special as well, but this? This will be… something more than that. Double that, and double again.  I’ll be an emotional wreck, and not ashamed.

We’ve all come a long way since October 2006, and so much has happened. Change and settling and rebuilding. That’s got to be a good  place to start from.

Everything in this household is ready to go again. For the love of the rock they brought,  I’m ready to go. I thought a lot about whether I could work for TD in the way I’ve done before, supporting SG and HL, giving everything I had time to give. I can’t physically do another Temple!  – there are other sites that can and will carry on in that vein. I can do this, though. I lay OI at the shrine of Lowestoft Rock, worship, hope, and wait patiently for miracles to happen (overblown metaphors a speciality, k?).


I can’t write this without some thank you’s for the rock we’ve had in the interval:

Robin Goodridge – for drumming so spendidly.

Stuart Cable (RIP)  – for stepping in to help.

Pete Rinaldi – for guitar, but mainly for being such a lovely guy.

Sam Stokes – for rocking hard and also being lovely.

Darby Todd – for being as cool as fuck, dude.

Johnny Haskett – for hugs, cake and splendidness.

Nick and Katy Brine – for just being ACE.

Toby Macfarlaine – for wit, elegance and charm.

Someone who deserves so many good things said about them – Richie Edwards.  You fronted SG so damn well, and are one of the nicest people anyone would ever wish to meet. We ALL salute you. I can only wish there had been one last time to ‘see you down the front.’  Maybe one day, Richie. xxx


Oh dear. Sniffle. See? Emotional already.  I am such a GIRL.

It’s time.

Permission to take off?








by Lucie Walker

Once in a long while, a truly impressive band comes along. I know, they’re horribly few and far between these days, but Parlor Mob is one of them. Their album ‘And You Were A Crow’ has accumulated a cult following as they sucked up fans with their heady cocktail of dirty rock and tender blues. It’s no wonder they’re a hit with wavy-haired 70’s-lovers such as myself.

Earlier this year I saw the video for the opening track on AYWAC, ‘Hard Times’, and I instantly thought to myself: “is this one of the great oldie bands? Surely nobody sounds like this anymore!”. But no, these kids were young and serious, and after shamefully forgetting about them for a few weeks I bought AYWAC on a whim, which I very rarely do on the back of hearing one song unless they really are THAT good.

The album is an instant classic from start to finish. It would be so easy to compare them to Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin, and I’m afraid that’s exactly what I’m going to do. The dual guitars have the unmistakable vibe of Lizzy, and the strained vocals of a frontman who is singing at a higher pitch than his larynx wishes to allow him to is reminiscent of both Lynott and Plant. It’s the bluesy element that reminds me of Zep, particularly on my favourite track of the album, ‘Can’t Keep No Good Boy Down’.

However, I’m not going to fall into the trap of implying that they’re an entirely retro and nostalgic band, that wouldn’t be fair. Their sound is fresh at the same time, by which I also mean refreshing. This stuff hasn’t been done before, not even by the old greats, despite the fact that this bunch were clearly born out of their time.

Songs like ‘When I Was An Orphan’ and ‘Angry Young Girl’ are proof of this, where both lyrics and style are completely original and touching. The only comparison I could give for the latter, for example, would be the rather obscure Real Tuesday Weld, with their tapping drums and similarly cooing and melodic velvet vocals – stark contrast to Mark Melicia’s harsher and higher tones on the rest of the album.

The epic 8.5 minute long saga that is ‘Tide Of Tears’ is a deeply emotional musical journey, and provided you have the patience to take the time to listen to such a lengthy track, it will touch you with its dark, slow tendrils of blues-rock.

Tracks like ‘Carnival Of Crows’, ‘Dead Wrong’ and ‘Real Hard Headed’ are the ones that will have you headbanging, while the slower songs will have you swaying or dancing, depending on whether they’re in major or minor.

Another thing about this album and this band is that you get the distinct impression that they’d be an absolute rocking joy to experience live, in all their long-haired boisterous glory. I see them flicking sweat across the audience as they deafen with wailing riffs already, and personally, I’ll be all over a gig of theirs as soon as they bless our fair land with a visit.

Quite simply, this is British rock with an American lilt, and I think Parlor Mob must be very aware of the country that inspired their style. For once, a singer in a classic rock band has the RIGHT to sound like a Yank when he sings.


This is the second biopic I’ve seen in the last year. Not usually my thing, I’m not a huge fan of sitting still for a couple of hours, but I make the effort sometimes. The first one I went to see was Control – Ian Curtis of Joy Division. That was an essay in quiet, crushing hopelessness, shot in black and white, funny and grim in equal parts, like the decade it covers.

Telstar, though, is in glorious colour.  It reflects its times perfectly – full of life, new things, discoveries and experimentation. Joe Meek, pioneer producer, is right at the heart of the early 60’s  new mania for pop music – something to DO for the ‘young’, now that they had money in their pockets and time to do things in. Post war austerity seemingly at an end, excesses of every kind kicked in. My impressions, then:

Joe Meek’s excesses were myriad. Work consumed his life, and he consumed the lives of others in his quest for hits, for perfection, for the ideal. He had a ‘family’ around him who could see his genius and worked for it, because they believed in him. He had talent and dedication. What he also had was a sizeable drug habit, in the days when pills were taken like sweets. He already had the arrogance of talent, the conviction that he was always right, and a healthy dose of latent paranoia. Not surprising, given that being homosexual was a dangerous thing to be, back then. We forget. It didn’t make him careful though, because he was arrested in an entrapment that surely never would have stood up in court these days.

That, in the film, seems to have been a turning point, though things had been going wrong already. Meek was a disaster of a businessman. He could not or would not see his own failings, preferring to blame others.  His descent into mania was triggered by so many things – drugs, lack of success, huge money problems,  what he saw as desertion by those he trusted and loved. His drive for perfection cost him a good deal of sanity, as well as friends.  Manipulative, high handed, cruel and given to taking advantage, goodwill ran out for even the most patient.  There’s no sycophantic heroworship going on, on screen. That’s in the story.  

And the bitter irony –  he destroyed those who stood by him to the end. His landlady whom he murdered, and his lover Patrick, who was arrested for that and Meek’s own suicide. Three more weeks… three more weeks and his life would have been so different. Royalties paid, he could have gone on. If he’d gone to work at Apple – who knows what he could have achieved there.

This film is far darker than Control, in my view. The calmness of depression is replaced by the constant action of mania. The effects of pressure are more easily seen, as the instant reactions are on the surface of the man. The film’s  jumping about from flashback to reality to future (or even sideways) heightens that impression. The closed, shuttered, claustrophobic studio, seems to me to be a metaphor for Meek’s mind – look how he reacts when the sun is let in.  The cast played a blinder. They all gave everything in their performances, utterly believable. It’s the situations they were in that weren’t, but it all happened.

Just because I am who I am, I can’t  write this without mentioning Mr Hawkins’ screen debut. Only on the screen for a short time, he made the most of it. He certainly has a presence – well done, Justin. In fact (which is not related to the fact that Justin is in them) the scenes he is in are the only ones that jarred within the film. They in themselves are fine, but I didn’t think they were very well integrated with the rest. The introductions of Billy Fury, Gene Vincent etc were much smoother.      

Go and see it if you can. Joe Meek gave British music a legacy that cannot be ignored.

Soccer Six(sister) 2009

Chelsea FC, 24.5.09

I quite like Soccer Six. I like football, so that’s usually win/win. A day out, and some interesting sights on the pitch. Cool! I had a great time last year. It was at Millwall’s New Den, and after finally getting my press pass, I was allowed on the pitch, got to talk to some of the teams, took some great photos. When the camera wasn’t blowing up, of course.

So, with high hopes, new camera, voice recorder and some sarnies, I set off at the ungodly hour of 6.45. On arrival at CFC, though, chaos seemed to be the order of the day. My name wasn’t on the press list (again) so lucky I took my email with me. I got a gold wristband, and was sent upstairs. That seemed to be the VIP stand… why was I up here then? Back downstairs, and a helpful Samaritans lady pointed me to the press area.

THAT was a complete disappointment. It was half of the East Stand, including the dugout. The pitchside floor level is lower than the pitch itself, handy if you’re not quite 5′ and the barrier is quite high! So, only celebrities that played on that quarter of the pitch were within reach of my camera. I did go back up the stand a little way, but it wasn’t great. Not enough zoom. You needed a camera the size of me to get anything on the far side. Most of the blokes there were professionals and had all the goods. There was no chance of getting any soundbites from anyone either. There were promises that celebs would be brought over to the press, but I didn’t see that happen. No press were allowed anywhere else in the stadium, either. That put paid to my visiting the other Justin fans on the West side.

Some one did tell me there was a press room, with drinks – but when I asked, the press room turned out to be the kit room for the day – all the teams were going in to pick theirs up from there. Oops.

It wasn’t looking very good, until I saw familiar faces in the stand upstairs. I went back up – after a few trials and errors, I ended up in a service lift to the right floor! There wasn’t any direct access between floors, and after that I had to come out of the stadium and back in again through Reception.    Anyway, I did find people to talk to, thank goodness!

I watched some football. Most of it wasn’t very good – if the girls’ teams carry on playing like that, I’ll bloody well get on the pitch myself. WHO wears their hair in a beehive  to play? False eyelashes? Girls – you looked ridiculous, and made girls’ football look silly as well. Yes, I know it was for charity, and credit’s due to them for playing.  Didn’t stop me holding my head in my hands – being an ex player I suppose I’m a bit biased. It was dirty as well, out there!

The men did better, there were some good moves and a few skills out there. Justin played well, but not for long enough to get really into his stride.  He wants to play every week now, so if you need a player… His Telstar team were knocked out in the group stages.  Next year, it’s gonna be  Trojan Football.  Justin’s already fit, looking well and healthy, so the smart money’s on Team Hot Leg to dazzle and beguile. (Although that might be before kick off :D)

This really is a fantastic event. The teams, the games, the charity, everything. This year, with no access to any other part of the ground or to the players, it just felt like a corporate event. It’s supposed to be fun for everyone! If you didn’t have a professional camera or a TV one, it wasn’t fun. If I hadn’t seen those faces up above, I’d have been there on my own all day, 3 hour journey each way, and had nothing to show for it. I’d probably have gone home much earlier.

There WERE Capello and Sven Goran Eriksson lookalikes, though.

There was a Press donation of £25 payable. That’s a lot when you don’t have an expense account, and I didn’t know about it until two days before. I don’t begrudge donating to Samaritans – but for what I got that was useful from it, I’d have been better off in the West stand with my friends, with a normal ticket. I got my press pass to report for the fans, dammit, not to flog my pictures to magazines and newspapers!

Thanks, Chelsea, for really not making things easy.  From what I heard, the  disabled area wasn’t so great either. Although the stewards were apparently pretty good, it’s not handy if people keep coming to stand in front of  the wheelchairs, is it?

Soccer Six and the Samaritans had nothing to do with any of the niggles. They do a great job. Can we go back to informal, next year, please?


ROCKAGANDA: Patchwork Grace profile

by Lucie

ROCKAGANDA – Patchwork Grace

We’re rather fond of PWG here at OI. If you were awesome enough to buy our album, you’ll already know the ansgty choon ‘Nancy’, and if you’re anything like us then that little taster will have simply served to make you hungry for more. Patchwork Grace are a gaggle of young, sexy, rebellious, loud, rockers who obviously live for their energetic music and want to shove it in everyone’s faces – qualities which can only be encouraged!

On the 10th of September their debut album, ‘Milk Teeth’, will be available on BUT! Records (the hideous distorted china baby on the cover will draw you in, I promise), and there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t buy it. The band span genres, sounding to an uneducated person like a thrashy girlband; to all others like trashy glam punk rockers, handfuls of glitter shot blindly through the music, flying off the cymbals. Sound tempting, no? Come on, you must be convinced… Okay, how about this: PWG’s philosophy is the very opposite of the minimalist trend, it’s about noise and lots of it. Loud, clashing and passionate sound, layers and layers of it. This isn’t just one humble music lover telling you all this, it’s the knowledge of the thousands of members of 20+ international PWG fans MySpace’s, of all the underground and alternative rock ‘zines worth their salt. And most of all, of the band – they LOVE what they do! And rightly so. Confidence and a jerky kind of poise oozes from the album, and from their live set.

But less of this rambling, let’s talk about the album, children. Sterility does not exist in this 13 track record composed entirely of fuck yes!. Tori Trash, Crip, Joey Strange and Danny Gunn spent their recording time giving their all and holding nowt back. Vocalist Tori is just sex; it pours out of her mouth and you can see it in her strutting. The boys behind her hang a heavy, crashing backdrop for lyrics that don’t have to be on-key or make sense. After all, the conventional just isn’t important. ‘Lovely’ and ‘Soap’ are bashed out with no precision or care except for making them sound as heavy and as rock as possible. ‘Zebra’ is something nearing anthemic – you can’t not sing along to the chorus: “I don’t want to be a zebra”. Embedded in this record is a jumpy version of The Cure’s ‘Lovecats’, a song that I didn’t think could be improved! PWG serve forth their own take on it, heavier, with lots of crashing cymbals and growly unmeasured guitar licks. ‘Kharrrrarrah’ and ‘Shminonio’ follow in the heavy punk-grunge vein, while ‘Little Me’ and ‘Nancy’ (a new and improved version of the one on the OI album) slowing things down, more emotional but brimming with anguish which keeps the pure rawk running through the album. ‘Estella’ has a similar chanty theme to ‘Zebra’, led by Tori’s girlysexy voice and sounding like a grunge singalong. The final four songs, ‘Meister Clinc’, ‘Choc. Milk + Cocaine’, ‘Pink Aniseed’ and ‘Doctor’s Note’ are the same and yet totally different to the nine songs that came before it. All thirteen tracks have an intrinsic similarity that’s indecipherable, but in true punk style they’re all independent from each other. PWG don’t believe in conformity, that’s for losers. There’s no crescendo to the album, it’s one long climax!
Faultless is one word to describe this band. A new brand of rockstars is a phrase that springs to mind. You’ve got to hear this group – go on, be engaged. Get addicted. Remember where you heard about them. Get to HMV on the 10th.

Patchwork Grace, in your own sensual words, I fucking adore you.

Anders L.A.

by Lucie

A tribute to – Anders L.A.

Anders is a well known and equally loved figure in the world of Darklings, and no doubt in small sections of his native Denmark. A cheeky blonde, you can’t help but want to scoop him up and do motherly things to him. But on top of all his charm, there’s a ridiculous amount of talent bubbling away, that’s been generously ladled out to the public in the guise of two EP’s over the last couple of years. Box Full Of Letters and On A Rainy Day shine with sharp acoustic skills, deep glossy vocals, and heartfelt lyrics that belie Anders’ tender years. There’s something incredibly worldly-wise about his songs, though his wonderful innocent charm is maintained through it all, perhaps because the music is so raw and clean.
Box Full Of Letters, released in November 2006 for public download, was awaited in certain circles with great anticipation, and our reaction was that of wonder for someone many of us had known for several years and had little glimpse of his talent previous to this. The six track EP was a pure and emotional acoustic journey, spanning musical styles (reflecting Anders’ very eclectic tastes that range from folk-indie, to glam rock), with standout tracks like Search Of The Lion, a tribute to Sergio Leone, Anders’ favourite director, and mimicking the style of Leone’s Western films in musical form. On a very different end of the scale, I’ll Never Let Go Again is a poignant lost-and-found love song, with Anders’ vocals at their deepest and most ethereal. Anders is not averse to dabbling in tasty slices of blues-rock too, as proved by the much loved Longroad Blues, which doesn’t appear on either of his EP’s, but remained on his MySpace page for a long time, until it was released for download before Anders had to make room for his newer songs. It displays his talent with an electric guitar in fine form, sneakily proving that his abilities are broad, and this shouldn’t be forgotten.
Earlier this year (March 2007), Anders unleashed On A Rainy Day, an EP with all the candid loving sentiments as Box Full Of Letters, only slightly more developed, and even more admirable. The obvious star of the EP is the love song with a difference, You’re So Green, one that any of us who have ever had a (perhaps slightly unhealthy) adoration for an item of clothing will understand. The tune is unashamedly dedicated to Anders’ favourite green jumper, and the apparent seriousness of the sentiment within the music is just wonderfully witty and gloriously ironic. Give Me A Clue is a confused and angsty ballad in the guise of a much lighter acoustic tune, and Tonight Is My Night shines out as a cheery tribute to Anders himself, his friends and family, and his love for them.
All this has been recorded with the most basic equipment – labours of love – and a desire to prove himself as a great musician. Anders has gained much respect for his moving music, and plans another EP to grace us with in the future, which the sweetheart of a Dane says “will feature anthemic choruses, electric guitars, bass and drums”. Good times!

Making yourself a laughing stock

by Jo

The BBC, not Justin.. whatever you thought about him entering, this was a… some words fail me.

After hearing all the songs, and wincing in parts, it became clear that this was a Big Brovas/Hawkins and Brown sing off. There little originality or talent elsewhere, a ripoff of the most wonderful ‘Preacher Man’.. and I’ll never understand why a foreign national can represent another country in this sort of thing.

It was gonna be tight, this one. Despite the huge Darkling support, Justin had to win over the public, and he is after all someone about whom there are few middle ground opinions. Big Brovas are knocked out in favour of Cindy. When the unbiased neutral BBC make it look like Justin and Beverlei are up against the dire Scooch, a rat began to stink. The voting most certainly wasn’t between the two, cos if it had been.. we wouldn’t have got that result. Set up and fix sprung to mind. Well done to Justin for leaving the stage that way. No doubt he had a few choice words to say to someone.

Post show, and via Justin’s myspace, information started to flow. People not getting through to vote, text votes failing, Scooch having had Helsinki final tickets on their site for 10 days – that was from the fans’ side. From Jus’s end – his supporting banners were confiscated, Scooch’s were not. Scooch had 2 hidden vocalists in the wings singing the girls’ parts. Now, that’s not playing fair, is it? And really, announcing the wrong winner at the end..

I was waiting for Jus’s blogs after that fiasco of a show. Do have a look. If anyone does want to complain to the authorities, then:

I would have thought that phoneins were in enough trouble at the moment. I’d also like to know how fans of the other acts got on with their voting.

Everyone vote for The Ark now, ok?

SixSister goes to Surrey

by Jo

Top Gear of the Pops. A disaster in the filming? Not quite..

Thursday night. Happily plonking along on the laptop, not a care in the world beyond the next day’s maths lesson and what on earth I was going to say about baptism by immersion. google alert Justin Hawkins. Oh yeah.. I heard of him. Nice boy with kittens. I haven’t been reading the alerts much, they’ve all been the same stories about Eurovision, but as things were quiet, I had a look. A link to some blog, saying something about Comic Relief. WHAT??? Justin/TOP GEAR/band???? I’ve never moved quicker to a website. Okay. 50 top pledgers to RND2007 get a pair of tickets to filming on Sunday. Closes at midnight. Quicker than a.. a… fast thing I pledge, conveniently managing to forget to mention it to Mr 2. Oh well, plenty of time for that if I win, which I didn’t think was terribly likely once the news gets out. I don’t have huge amounts of cash right now. BUT I did win! What a nice way to finish a school week, finding that email. Mr 2 took it surprisingly well, I must say, and it was his idea to set off on Saturday morning and stay in the wilds of Surrey overnight. (Not that he had that idea until we were on our way to Sainsbury’s on Saturday morning, but a very good one it was.) Guildford is very nice, readers. Anyway, less of the ramble.

After floating round Surrey all day and checking we knew where we were going, we arrived in a carpark at about 6 and had to kill time until collected for a short yomp round the back of the airfield to the studio. Huge hangar – oo those stretch limousine things they made last week are here. Silly buggers. Had a good wander round, took one or two photos of the set. It’s cold – not unexpected, but it’s seeping up into my boots from the concrete floor over the hours. I guess we arrived in there at about 7.45. Naturally we’re asked to take coats off as they don’t look great on camera. Neither will I, I’m having a bad hair week. There’s a fair amount of setting up going on, health and safety announcements. No loo in here. I must have gone about 5 times in the mobile loos before, after the marathon bladderfilled experience at the Friday Night Project.

As most of you know by now, this was Top Gear of the Pops. Enough to make you 0_0 on its own. But as we know that Jeremy, Richard and James will BE in a band with Justin singing, it was quite intriguing to say the least. Filming starts, with presenters wandering in. We’re over by the band stage. I’ve come all this way to see Jus, and I’m gonna be at the front, although naturally this is purely for journalistic reasons. Can still hear what’s going on over there, where the presenting bit is going on. People being moved by the floor manager all the way through, machinery being moved about. Rooney the warm up man. I have a few walks round the place to stretch. Standing about a lot gives me backache these days, you know. Lethal Bizzle are on first with their new single, of which I understood not a word. Personally, I find rap/hiphop etc impenetrable. They’re well received, though. McFly are there! (there’s another tiny stage in the far corner) and are given a challenge. Write a new song without the words ‘love’, ‘baby’ or ‘heart’ but WITH ‘sofa’ ‘Hyundai’ and ‘administration’, to be performed at the end of the show. Interesting.. Mr Hammond looked remarkably fit and well, all three on good form, the usual cockups abound and lots of applause being rerecorded. I’m not going through all of the programme, you’ll have to watch. There is a general music history lesson, and a chart rundown, though. Scuse me if I’ve lost track of the EXACT order of things but you get the idea.

Travis appear onstage with their new single, a pleasant sound.. three times they do that, with rugby banter flowing. Apparently there was some game that Scotland lost. They played to a backing track with live singing. Supergrass were pretty good, played completely live and had ADE EDMONDSON playing guitar. A god amongst comedians. Unannounced. Doing very silly rock god impressions and playing that axe like Comic Relief depended on it. Still, not bad, if a bit of a feedback freak aagahhh. This was run through twice, an untainted version, and one where TG intervened. Dry ice, enough to suffocate everyone on stage, billowing out of twin exhausts behind Mr Goffey’s drums. A HUGE wind machine blowing the living daylights out of the band. And.. doves and pigeons. James was in charge of releasing them in an overblown rock gesture. Not while the wind machine was going, I might add. They didn’t want to play, though. Fluttered and landed about 5 feet from the unfortunate James, flew off over the crowd into haircuts, and crawled under the barrier at my feet. I picked it up and looked after it until the end of the song, poor thing, it didn’t need big people stamping on it. Even the chicken placed very carefully on stage refused to play. I don’t know what will get cut out of that..

McFly managed to perform their cracking new tune with great aplomb, getting all the words into a rocking little tune. Not bad work, lads!

Finally finally the stage is set up for the big event. A massive set of drums, Jeremy won’t know what to do with all of those! Three backing singers, two keyboards, guitarist.. Jeremy banters with all and sundry. He’s had seven lessons, and predicts a disaster. This is the first time they’ve played together, after a quick rehearsal yesterday. James’ music degree is cruelly brought up, but the poor boy reminds him that this is a far cry from the Bach he plays at home. Richard looks like he can handle a bass, but also looks terrified, as well he might! Justin is introduced at last and appears in black shirt, dusty lilac trousers and leopardskin boots. Never one to dress down if there’s no need! We’re getting Billy Ocean’s ‘Red Light’ thanks to Clarkson. Those backing singers are REALLY good, and indeed carry the whole thing right through. Justin has idiot boards with the lyrics.. they do get a long way through on the first take. Justin gets himself warmed up. Second take – Jeremy somehow loses a drumstick, claiming that his hands banged together. His drumming is awful, I’m reliably informed, but he does know he’s speeding up and slowing down, and threatens to do it on purpose. Richard has SOME idea of what he’s doing! He said last time he played a bass he broke it on someone – I’m sure that’s what he said! Jus stops two takes, doesn’t seem comfy, plainly confused cos he’s singing but it’s not matching the music – is it his fault? Ah. There’s a line of lyrics missing. ‘I’m a professional! I sing what I’m told to!’ The guy looking after the idiot boards is immediately banished to Gardeners’ World. The vocals/music match a lot better after that! Justin relaxes into his singing take by take, adding flashes of falsetto and vocal flourishes. Knickers appear on stage and are festooned round Richard – they are returned to the audience for the next take, to be thrown again. It was difficult to hear Justin at first, but that mike was quiet for Supergrass, I thought It’s a triumphant finish when they run it all the way through for the last time, I suspect partly in relief!

Yeah, it was a shambles, that last song, but it could have been so much worse! It was recognisable, they had professional help, and we were willing them on, greatly entertained. All that could be asked for. Top Gear will have another series, which is just as well, as the three lads need to stick to the day jobs.. Kudos for doing it though.

Now for the Justin bit. He looked healthy and smiley. As gorgeous as ever, no trace of any kind of arrogance, of which he’s often been accused. No scene stealing (although he can do that without doing very much, tbh). Doing his job quietly with no fuss, standing in the crowd and talking to people. I overheard several people behind me saying he’d spoken to them. To see him back on stage and to hear him singing again was just sublime.I was proud. I don’t know how he felt. Am I right in thinking that it’s the first time on stage since last summer? A few qualms would have been perfectly natural, and the contrast between this and a TD gig could not have been greater. I find that the more time passes, the more time I have for the man I’ve been following for so long. I think he’s more of a man than he was, my friends.

He’s a very busy man just at the moment. Good luck for Saturday, Justin, and Happy Birthday.

Lyrics follow! Plus photos. We weren’t allowed to take many, and the one of Jus didn’t come out somehow! WAAAAAHHH!!!!

Red light spells danger
Can’t hold out much longer
‘Cos red light means warning
Can’t hold out I’m burning

You took my heart and turned me on
And now the danger sign is on

Never thought the day would come
When I would feel alone without you
An’ now I’m like a child again
Calling out his mama’s name
You got me on a ball and chain
Doin’ things that I don’t wanta.

I can’t stop running to you
Feel love coming through you
Girl with you beside me
Hold on, heaven guide me.

Red light spells danger
Can’t hold out much longer
‘Cos red light means warning
Can’t hold out I’m burning.

Red light spells danger
Can’t hold out much longer
‘Cos red light means warning
Can’t hold out I’m burning

I had my funk
I played around
Without a love to tie me down

I always used to kiss and run
I never wanted love to catch me.
I thought I had a heart of stone
But now I’m in the danger zone

I can feel the heat is on
Soon the flames are gonna catch me.

I can’t stop running to you
Feel love coming through you
Girl with you beside me
Hold on, heaven guide me.

Red light spells danger
Can’t hold out much longer
‘Cos red light means warning
Can’t hold out I’m burning

Red light spells danger
Can’t hold out much longer
‘Cos red light means warning
Can’t hold out . . .