The Darkness @ o2 Academy, 1st December 2019

It’s icy and the roads are full of traffic; Christmas is coming and just to add more sparkle The Darkness are in town, with their air of flamboyance, glitter and catsuits. This tour is to promote the ‘Easter is Cancelled’ album which came out in October, and so there has been a bit of a delay in touring the album.

Support is by Rews. I have to admit, seeing various bands in various venues, it’s always a joy to see and hear a support act who are superb. I’d never heard of Rews prior to coming to tonight’s show, by the time I left I was walking out smitten, with a copy of their CD in my hand. The three-piece band offer beautifully crafted indie-pop songs, with a bass that pummels your ears and vocal harmonies to make you wet-eyed.

They very much reminded me of Veruca Salt and Honeyblood, and having played the ‘Pyro’ album constantly following the gig, I’d say they are up there with them. They are working on new material and tour in March 2020. I can’t wait!

The Darkness are a good-time band, who whilst making some great records with killer riffs, never take themselves too seriously, frontman Justin Hawkins a case in point, as he works the audience, winking, smirking and generally milking the adoration from the crowd for all he can get. And who can blame him, stood in a cat-suit with his bare chest out. 

Tonight’s approach is a new one for me, in that they play two sets, the first being the ‘Easter’ album in full, and then after a short costume change a ‘hits’ set. I’ve seen many bands play an album in its entirety, but often it’s an old favourite or one reaching a certain anniversary (usually 25 years, that sort of thing) but having a band play a new album in full, which is barely 2 months old, I’m still not sure if it’s over-confidence or self-indulgent. Don’t get me wrong it’s a good album but all of it, so soon after being released? The first set ends with Hawkins and an acoustic guitar to play ‘We are the Guitar Men’, which he tells us is so hard to play the band leave him to it. His falsetto is at times incredible.

As expected the second set is what gets the crowd going and its full of classics, kicking off with ‘One Way Ticket’, and then caressing the ears with stalwarts such as ‘Growing on Me’, and the immense ‘Solid Gold’, but then the set takes a turn for the bizarre, with a cover version of Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit’, and with a snippet of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. The guitar wasn’t the only thing to weep hearing the Radiohead classic, and I’m unsure why it’s been chosen to include in the set given their large back catalogue. 

The show is full-on entertainment, and you can’t not like The Darkness. In the current crazy world we live in, it’s the perfect tonic for a couple of hours, to forget all that’s barmy in the world.

However, will the catsuits ever catch on? I can’t see it but you never know. The tour continues throughout December.

Set-list (Rews)

Rip up my heart

Can you feel it?

Your tears

Shake Shake

Monsters

Miss you in the dark

Birdsong

Shine

 

Set-List (The Darkness)

Rock and Roll Deserves to Die

How Can I Lose Your Love

Live ‘til I Die

Heart Explodes

Deck Chair

Easter is Cancelled

Heavy Metal Lover

In Another Life

Choke on it

We are the Guitar Men

One Way Ticket

Barbarian

Growing on Me

Japanese Prisoner of Love

Love is only a Feeling

Solid Gold

Street Spirit (Fade Out) 

Get Your Hands off My Woman

I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Christmas Time (Don’t let the bells end)

Love on the Rocks with no ice

 

Reviewer: Glenn Raybone

Photographer: Ian Dunn

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