The Darkness - ABC Glasgow - Wednesday 12 September 2012
A fourth visit with my son to see Lowestoft's most famous product. This time they were touring in support of their new album Hot Cakes. Gone are the massive stadia of yore, but the boys can still rock. Their volume levels are still stadium-capable though: my ears took around 36 hours to recover fully (my son betrayed the fact that he's an aspiring professional rock musician himself by wearing earplugs).
First up were local band Gun. No, not a reformed version of these guys, who were THE Gun, and not from Glasgow. Pity: the 1960s band would have made a good foil for The Darkness. Still, the Glaswegians (an energetic five-piece) worked really hard and made a good impression, They have a new album (Break The Silence)but they've clearly been around for a while. Always good to find bands I didn't know (though my son of course laboured under no such ignorance).
So. The Darkness. As always, their appearance onstage was heralded by the strains of Abba's Arrival. (It's a tradition, or an old charter, or something.) They opened up with their most recent single from Hot Cakes, Every Inch of You, which is a killer of an opening song. They then powered off into:
Growing On Me
One Way Ticket to Hell and Back
Nothing's Gonna Stop Us
... a certain amount of banter with the audience whenever they did new songs and got some good-natured heckling about how they weren't as good as the old ones. Justin has a way with hecklers: he's very polite, and passes them a microphone which generally freezes them with nerves. He asks their names, and remembers them later, referring to them jokily and pointing. OK, so the hecklers last Wednesday weren't really unpleasant (I suppose he just ignores those ones).
Get Your Hands Off of My Woman
... Justin standing on his head leading a clapalong by banging his legs together. Also rehearsing the audience carefully in the lyrics ('No, it's "Mo-ther". No "Fu-". That comes in a minute. No, I'm still hearing a "Fu-". Come on, you can do it. "Mo-ther".)
Love Is Only a Feeling
Everybody Have a Good Time
Looking For Love
... great to hear that one again. Justin started it off unaccompanied, just him and the audience.
An old one I didn't recognise (well, JH did say it was one for the hardcore fanbase). ...listening to my B-sides, it may have been Physical Sex, or that may have been one of the others I didn't recognise on the night.
... at which point Justin changed out of his first outfit (a blue and white thing with a cape which was discarded very early on) and into familiar territory, viz. a black and white striped catsuit.
Three more songs I didn't recognise (got the impression two were new)
Stuck In A Rut
I Believe In A Thing Called Love
One final one I didn't know.
Girl With The Hazel Eyes
... not sure if they make a point of doing that every time they come to Bonnie Scotland or not. Oh, and Frankie's Mum got a name check as she was in the audience once again. On which topic, Justin Hawkins comes across as incredibly...well, nice. the kind of rock star you could take home to your Mum, who would find him charming (at least, mine would have done - she wouldn't have been fazed for a second even if he turned up at the front door in a catsuit).
Followed by a pause for another costume switch, a few swigs of water, and then it was up onto the shoulders of a roadie for a tour of the audience (in a phalanx of security) while playing an extended solo on...
Love On The Rocks With No Ice
... surely one of rock's great riffs. And when doing his solo vocal break, Justin showed phenomenal breath control. I mean, really amazing: I've never heard another rock singer sustain a note that long without cracking or drifting off-pitch.
And that was it. One of the best live bands around, gone until the next time.
See another review here, which agrees: The Darkness kick ass live.