Gig review by Zak Edwards with Photography by Bianca Barrett

The Darkness

I have to confess. A Friday night with The Darkness is not on my ‘bucket list’ and after a long week at work I wasn’t overly excited at the prospect. For me it was going to be a whole load of ‘cock rock’ clichés and not the most enjoyable of evenings…

The Darkness

Little did I know however that I was about to witness the finest performance of frontmanship (if there is such a word) from Freddie Mercury reincarnate, Mr Justin Hawkins performing with his cohorts from Lowestoft, Suffolk, The Darkness!

The Darkness

Following a musical interlude, where the sound system was definitely turned up to 11 and there was festive head bobbing a plenty, it was lights down and the obvious musical introduction to such a hard metal band… Synth bagpipe music with a Christmassy feel. Lovely stuff. Then, donning an outfit that Beetlejuice would be proud of, Mr Hawkins – a veritable whirling dervish – was on stage and doing his thing, much to the delight to the baying audience.

The Darkness

A number of things became immediately apparent as the band launched into ‘Barbarian’ and then popular singalong ‘Growing on Me’. Firstly, they are musically very good and the lead singer certainly has some pipes on him. They are also very likeable – especially the enigmatic frontman. Finally it quickly became the norm for each song to have a rip-roaring 30 second ending, each reaching a crescendo of noise together with Air Drumming, Gymnastics and general tomfoolery from the singer.

The Darkness

“Give me a D! Give me an A! Give me an Arkness and make some fucking noise!” Instructed the singer, to the obvious approval of those in attendance.

Surprisingly it wasn’t till the 3rd song in that Justin’s top came off to show his toned torso and plethora of tattoos adorning his upper body, and then it was into ‘Mudslide’ where he encourage a more than willing member of the audience to pronounce “It’s a fucking Mudssssllllliiidddddeeeee” in purest proudest Brummie to end the song. Excellent stuff.

The Darkness

With the volume up another notch, meaning that I had to go and get some ear plugs, it was onwards and upwards from the band, led by the ridiculously well-spoken lead. His energy, audience interaction and general enthusiasm for his trade was palpable and a lesson to anyone who wants longevity in the music industry.

The Darkness

With way too many amazing things happening to do them justice – mostly involving Mr Hawkin – I feel the only method of relaying them is the through the medium of the trusty bullet point:

  • Justin reciting poetry about peoples facial hair and choice of beverage
  • Justin inviting Mark Jones on stage for some epically camp belly dancing
  • Justin taking to the piano – demonstrating he’s a more than accomplished pianist
  • Justin performing all manner of yoga inspired dance moves – including my favourite the ‘handstand’ Capital V. Upside down. Legs akimbo.

The Darkness

With song titles like ‘Rack of Glam’ and ‘Stuck in a Butt’ as well as epic covers of songs like Radio Heads ‘Street Spirit’ what’s not to like about the Darkness – especially with the lead singer concluding his final guitar solo in nothing more than his pants, perching on the back of some security guard doing a tour of the entire crowd? Simply brilliant.

The Darkness

Fans favourite ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ was evidently saved till the end to ensure that fans went home with a “massive boner” (another Justinism) and then with the lead singer dishing out plectrums with gay abandon and dedicating the last song to 8 year old Kai (whilst apologising for all the profanities) that was that. A night of great entertainment, great music and masterclass from the loveable singer.

The Darkness

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