Glam and Glitter from The Darkness
There couldn’t have been a better setting for the glam-rockers from Suffolk than the Apollo. Justin Hawkins
, frontman and lead vocalist, alternating lead and rhythm guitars with his little brother Dan, is dressed in a green, chest-free bodysuit, and fits perfectly into the hall with its theatrical art-deco interior. The Darkness embodies the hard rock of the 80s and all its accessories – the hair, the outfit, and the gleaming guitars - with a twinkle in the eye.
The venue is nicely packed when the band
comes on stage and opens the show with the fast-paced Open Fire
from their 2015 album Last of our Kind
. The following song, Love Is Only a Feeling
is a power ballad originating from their critically acclaimed 2003 record Permission to Land
, which catapulted the band to commercial success and secured them high-ranking chart positions in sixteen countries across the globe. The album sold more than 1,300,000 copies in the UK alone and was consequently certified quadruple platinum in the group’s homeland.
Thirteen years later, the quality of their live performance echoes that early recognition. The sound is like straight from the record: Justin Hawkins’ vast vocal range never fails to impress and neither does the instrumental cooperation of the other band members. But aside from being great musicians, The Darkness is also highly entertaining. The earworm One-way Ticke
t from 2005's One-way Ticket to Hell… and Back
is interrupted by “The plectrum challenge”, a game whereby the singer aims to hit an art-deco structure on the ceiling with his plectrum. At another point, during a guitar solo from Dan Hawkins during Get Your Hands Off My Woman
, his brother is seen doing a handstand on the drums podium whilst clapping his feet to the beat. The performance doesn’t lack familiar elements from 80s rock bands either, be it a 'David Lee Roth split leg jump' or Status Quo-like synchronised guitar playing.
In just under two hours, the band performs a balanced mix of songs from across their five albums, including their latest offering – Pinewood Smile
– released in October 2017, which was recorded by award-winning producer Adrian Bushby, who has previously worked with bands like Muse, Foo Fighters and Smashing Pumpkins. Just before the encore, the 2003 hit Growing On Me
from Permission To Land
is introduced by the singer with the words “We’re playing one more old song. We have deliberately left out some songs so you may shout ‘come back’- I really shouldn’t have to tell you this.” – which leaves the crowd cheering in anticipation. And after only a short break, the band returns to stage as promised. During their 2003 song Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)
, the entire front of the hall is lit with strings of Christmas lights, seemingly activated by the singer pushing a plunger, whilst white confetti falls gently on the audience. The cheerful spectacle ends with their classic crowd pleaser, I Believe in a Thing Called Love
, which reached number 1 in the UK Charts in 2003-2004 and has the entire hall jumping and chanting on the top of their lungs once again.
The Darkness toured Europe finishing in the UK in December 2017, to promote their fifth record - Pinewood Smile - released in October 2017, before recommencing touring in North America in the spring of 2018.