Gig Review + Photos by Mark Loraine

For me, its always great to go to a Hard Rock gig. The lightshow is usually great, the music is really right up my street, the crowd is generally spot on and the atmosphere amazing. Tonight just imagine all of that times 10 – Why? Well beacuse The Darkness are in town, thats why.


The night starts off with a fabulous bit of country blues rock from the Blackfoot Gypsies. Straight out of Nashville, this 4 piece put some amazing boogie down and really begin to warm the Leeds crowd up. There no-nonsense attitude and engrossing stage presence really put them in a league above a support act. Even if they do seem to be missing the warmth of the South of the USA, the music is hot even if the lead singer needs a cardigan in the fabulous chill of the cavernous O2! Central Leeds in December is certainly not Lower Broadway in Nashville!


Having seen the Blackfoot Gypsies do a sterling job as warm up, the crowd is actually buzzing with anticipation for the main act and it isn’t long before The Darkness grace us with their presence.

This may seem a grand way to describe a band making an entrance on to the stage, but Justin Hawkins has just arrived in a seriously spangled cape! I may sound surprised by this, but I’m not! I have seen the Darkness before and I have seen some of the outlandish things Justin wears and so, no surprises here.


It is to the credit of the guys in The Darkness that they have pretty much filled the venue tonight and filled it with people of very mixed ages. Many cast this band as a novelty band, a joke perhaps or have even, dare I say it, written them off. Looking and listening tonight though proves all of those statements wrong.

The Darkness are, and always will be, a really good Hard Rock band. Their riffs and their rhythm’s are fantastic, seemingly coming straight from the AC/DC (well Malcolm Young, may he rest in peace) school of kick ass Rock n Roll and their perfect sibling guitar harmonies remind you straight away of the mighty Thin Lizzy – heck Dan Hawkins even has it writ large on his chest! All of this means that we are in for a little bit of a hard rock treat!


All the favourites are in the set, from my personal favourite Black Shuck from their debut album Permission to Land, through to, of course, their biggest hit, I Believe in a thing called Love which ends the show as their final encore. They even manage to slot their slightly dodgy Christmas Hit into the show, an apt time of year of course for this little gem.

Throughout the set Justin Hawkins proves he is one of Rock’s most engaging front men, with the banter coming thick and fast. He is parried by chants of “Yorkshire”, “Yorkshire” from the crowd (a staple of gigs in Leeds at the moment) and throughout he maintains the tongue in cheek delivery that is synonymous with a Darkness show.


The rest of the band, the previously mentioned Dan Hawkins on guitar, Frankie Poullain, the slightly dodgy looking 70’s porn star throwback on Bass and the new (ish) boy Rufus ‘Tiger’ Taylor on Drums provide the ultimate musical foil to all of Justin’s antics and maintain the feeling that this is definitely no novelty act, this is serious Rock n Roll.

All in all tonight was a good night for a rock fan, a night of very traditional Rock n Roll it watching a class act put on an incredible show and put some amazing smiles on the departing fans.


Nice work The Darkness, top night! oh, and Blackfoot Gypsies, may your boogie never stop.

Set List:
Open Fire
 / Love Is Only a Feeling
 / Southern Trains
 / Black Shuck / 
One Way Ticket
 / Givin’ Up
 / All the Pretty Girls
 / Barbarian
 / Friday Night
 / Makin’ Out
 / Every Inch of You
 / Solid Gold / 
Stuck in a Rut / Get Your Hands Off My Woman / 
Growing on Me

Japanese Prisoner of Love
 / Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End) / I Believe in a Thing Called Love


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