I love The Darkness, a sentence that seems to be acceptable to say now in 2015. Now that they’ve moved out of the main-mainstream it has become acceptable to enjoy their work in the eyes of doddering old elitists, so god forbid this latest Christmas song propels them back into the limelight of BBC Christmas specials or we’ll all suddenly be uncool again.
They’re playing in the 02 Academy tonight, and while it’s too small for the boob chariots and flying tigers of the SECC era, they can still bring the fun.
Opening with the traditional ABBA tune over the PA, the set properly begins with Barbarian. Once again, the 02’s sound (remember my bitching and whining in my Clutch review?) lets the side down a bit and the giant stomp of the intro riff is dissipated a tad. Not that this was going to stop as many people attempting to shatter their (plastic) pint glasses with falsetto laden singing though.
Justin Hawkins of 2015 (and the preceding few years) is nearly unrecognisable from the Justin Hawkins of the mid-2000s and as a fan it warms the cockles of my heart to see him healthy, as it tends to be the opposite direction we go in the rock world, beer guts for all! His voice is also much stronger, having gained more control over his lower range which is evident throughout the Last of Our Kind material.
Speaking of Last of our Kind. If I had one complaint about the set it would be this, the lack of songs from the album was a real shame. For my money, Last of our Kind is the second strongest Darkness and it sits very closely to Permission to Land. I would not have objected to getting a full album play through tonight. On the other hand, that would also have meant getting less Permission tracks. Double sets is the only answer for it. Opeth can do an Evening with Opeth, The Darkness can do that same.
Givin’ Up leads to a strange moment where it ends and doesn’t immediately kick into Stuck in a Rut, leaving us with a strange incomplete sensation that would later be completed shortly before the encore.
A particular highlight for me was the inclusion of English Country Garden as I’ve always wanted to see that one live. Though there’s a chance I actually have seen it live before and just forgotten, I’m not getting any younger you know. In reality though, most of the Permission songs slot into personal highlight territory. The big intro of Black Shuck, the chorus of Get Your Hands off My Woman (and the prechorus, Glasgow loves the chance to shout cunt), the bouncy jolliness of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, it’s all just tremendous fun.
It would also be remiss of me not to mention Frankie’s mean cowbell playing skills. To this day I’ve never seen a man strike a cowbell with quite so much vigour.
It is December, and as such it’s Christmas time. But not that Christmas time, at least not yet. First it’s the turn of the new song, I Am Santa, to bring the Christmas cheer to the rainiest night Glasgow has seen in a while.
I Am Santa
Another new song, so new that it isn’t actually out yet, also gets an airing. Rack of Glam I believe it was called and if you scurry of to youtube you can hear it yourself!
The encore brings the moment we’ve been waiting for since I Am Santa, it is officially Christmas time at that point. The first hints of this are when small inflatable snowmen appear over the amps, who needs flying tigers now?
Love on the Rocks With No Ice closes the set with Hawkins hoisted onto the back of an obliging roadie and carried through the crowd. God only knows how painful his arse is by the end of the walks, with many a slap getting aimed at it.
2015 Darkness is a far different beast from the early days, but the vital trademarks are there, the big riffs, the glorious twin harmony guitars, the shrieking front man, and most importantly, a Thin Lizzy tshirt. If you’re still writing them off as the silly falsetto band, immediately venture to Spotify and listen through the new album.