The Darkness (O2 Academy, Bournemouth – 17/12/15) ★★★★★

By: admin

There’s no denying that the newer material from The Darkness is top notch, but let’s be honest, it doesn’t match the sound that most people would associate with them. It comes with a snarly late 80’s approach, rather than the much loved and totally over the top 70’s hard rock wailing. So it’s a welcome treat when only 1 song in to the set we’re already rocking out to Permission To Land era anthems!

Frontman Justin Hawkins struts and marches around the stage in his black and white striped Beetlejuice-does-glam suit, looking every part the poster boy for ADHD. Only 3 songs in to the evening and the jacket comes off as this hyper sexual rock god writhes his way through the set, grinning ear to ear. The jokes are constant tonight, with the crowd banter truly perfected. If the music career doesn’t work out, Justin has a very good shot at stand up comedy.

It’s actually surprising how much of this set consists of older material taken from the first two albums…but it’s clear what the crowd prefers to hear. Each song is appreciated of course, The Darkness are a stellar band with rock and roll blood pumping through their veins, but when the familiar intros to songs such as Growing On Me, Black Shuck, Get Your Hands Off My Woman and Love Is Only A Feeling are delivered, the joy on each and every face here is obvious! It’s these decade confused classics that people want to hear, they’re fun, they never take themselves seriously, but they don’t quite cross that thin line that turns them in to a novelty act.

There are a couple of technical issues with hard rock sibling Dan Hawkins’ guitar, but whereas this could have caused an awkward lull while the stage crew frantically try to find the fault, these moments are masterfully covered by the band’s charismatic and ever flamboyant ringleader. In fact, during one such pause, it seems like we are going to be treated to the forbidden balcony climb (as Justin had explained earlier, he has been warned that scaling the historic architecture would result in quite the telling off!)…alas, sound is restored and it never happens. Justin, you tease!

As this evening’s night of rock comes close to an end, The Darkness run through a spectacular I Believe In A Thing Called Love, quite possibly their most well known and successful single, leading the crowd in to hysterics. It’s amazing! The band proceed to leave the stage to prepare for their encore, and anyone disappointed in the lack of Christmas songs can begin to get excited as a giant inflatable Santa and a snowman are brought on…it is the season and the band do have enough of these singles to choose from! Luckily, it’s their finest, rather than their newest that they choose to air…Christmas time (Don’t Let The Bells End), complete with Justin now donning his comparatively casual attire; a Darkness t-shirt and shockingly short shorts. Even more surprising for those who haven’t seen it played before is their stunning cover of Radiohead’s Street Spirit. It’s a massive departure from the usual upbeat angle the play with, but it works perfectly. The moody green lighting sets the tone while the band up the tempo, it may not be their own material but it’s absolutely a highlight of the night…just incredible!

Justin Hawkins and his motley crew have had the time of their lives by the looks of it, and this enthusiasm has carried over to the crowd as smiles adorn the packed out room. They’ve enjoyed themselves so much in fact, that they simply can’t tear themselves away from the stage! Ending their encore on a beautifully lit up Love On The Rocks (complete with more technical issues as Justin attempts to solo his way through the crowd while he’s carried amongst the sea of fans, leading to an a capella rendition of said guitar part when he returns to his rightful place up top), the final note becomes final notes, which continue to multiply until the FINAL final note is finally blasted out. The band may drag this dramatic ending out a little longer than is needed, but I don’t think anyone really wants them to go either, so no complaints here. The Darkness are great fun and actually I think this stage is far too small for their epic rock anthems…let’s hope they can regain their success of the early 2000’s and come back bigger than ever next time!

Rock and mother f***ing roll!!!

…And Merry Christmas 🙂


Also you can check out photos taken of the night right here! – enjoy.



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