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The Darkness - O2 City Hall, Newcastle 17.12.2023

Not gonna dwell on the fact that it is TWENTY YEARS since The Darkness crashed into the rock world with the album 'Permission To Land' as that would mean I’m twenty years older now and that just doesn’t sit right with me haha.

However celebrating that album with a tour just before Christmas makes perfect sense and a sold out Newcastle City Hall was up for it big style !

Opening the show with 'Black Shuck' with that DC esque riff the same way that album kicks off when you press play gets things underway in fine fashion the crowd absolutely bouncing. Resplendent in a black and red catsuit (missed opportunity to wear black & white in Newcastle though) Justin Hawkins is one of the most charismatic frontmen I’ve ever seen. Pacing the stage back and forth nailing every note he has the audience in the palm of his hand so much so when he gestures to a few fans to put their phones away they do it no questions asked. This strikes a chord with Justin as after the song he comments that he had to stop the performance the night before to ask people to just enjoy the moment. I know I’m being hypocritical here having stood in the pit with a camera pointing at the band BUT it was nice to see.

Sticking with the Permission track listing we get 'Get Your Hands Off My Woman' (with some pyro, leaps from the riser and headstands) and 'Growing On Me' up next and the band are on fire, Frankie Poullain and Rufus Taylor are a cracking rhythm section keeping those bass lines and drums pounding while the Hawkins boys Dan and Justin provide the riffs and solos seemingly effortlessly! Both guitarists displaying some fantastic fretwork as they give us every track from that debut and more.

Looking around there’s a huge array of ages here tonight, Justin made a point of shouting out to a nine year old lad at the front on the barrier making his night and that’s one of the beauties of the band they have no “age demographic” that they’re aiming at they just want people to like their music.

Bookended by beautiful versions of 'How Dare You Call This Love' and 'Holding My Own' the Radiohead cover 'Street Spirit (Fade Out)' has both main arena and balcony jumping! This song in theory shouldn’t work with its Iron Maiden tinged reworking of the main melody at 90mph coupled with Justin’s falsetto vocal BUT it does perfectly without ever sounding like it’s disrespectful to the original.

And that’s something else THE HUMOUR in the band, the guys are clearly having an absolute blast and the interaction between Justin and the fans is at times hilarious BUT unlike some bands they’re not a joke you laugh with them not at them.

When speaking about his sobriety though (17 years now) you can feel the love and support that each voice cheering is giving.

The ode to the weekend date 'Friday Night' almost brings the set to a close but borrowing a Santa hat from a fan the band bring the season of goodwill to the toon early with 'Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)' and of course the roof raising 'I Believe In A Thing Called Love' to bring the show to a close and the Newcastle faithful screaming for more.

A quick change into some very fetching robes / kimonos and switch around with Dan on Drums Rufus on Bass and Frankie on acoustic guitar we are treated to the doo wop inspired 'I Love You Five Times' once again showcasing that vocal range.

'Love On The Rocks With No Ice' finishes the gig for real but not without seeing Justin out in the crowd being carried aloft on shoulders while playing guitar during an extended middle eight.

The Darkness definitely wore their hearts on their sleeves influence wise with 'Permission To Land' but to be fair you can’t blame them when those influences are some of the greatest RnR bands ever.

Oddly enough tonight was somehow the first time I’ve seen the band and I have to admit I’m a bit gutted to have missed them all the other times hope it’s not as long to wait for the next one.

Photos & Review - G's Gig Shots


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