hmv.com reviews... The Darkness @ O2 Academy Bristol
The hard rockers rolled into Bristol over the weekend and we were there to catch them in action...
The catsuit wearing, falsetto wailing glam rockers The Darkness.
At the Bristol Academy.
Was it full? And how were the crowd?
With it being a Sunday night, they aren't particularly the most active of audiences, yet banter is thrown back and forth from the stage in equal measure. At one point, underwear is even thrown on the stage...and who said romance is dead?!
So what was the set like? What did they play?
Whilst promoting a new album, the set sees almost all of their seminal debut album Permission To Land being played to the delight of everybody. Things kick off with 'Barbarian' the opening from their latest effort 'Last Of Our Kind'. Without paying too much attention to the subject matter, 'Growing On Me' still sounds great to this day.
Seeing as they have been likened as the real life 'Spinal Tap' in the past, naturally something had to go wrong as it does when Dan Hawkins' guitar breaks during 'Black Shuck' twice! You've got to appreciate any band that uses a cowbell solo to open up their songs as they do on 'One Way Ticket'. Even an avid fan in the crowd fights his way to the front with his own bell raised in the air to acknowledgement of the band.
The newer material in the forms of 'Mudslide' and 'Roaring Waters' certainly seem to include more metal elements as apposed to the straight up glam-rock of before. In comparison 'English Country Garden' is as camp as Christmas, with an audience member baring a considerable amount of flesh on stage during a rather interesting dance.
It's the older material like 'Stuck In A Rut' or the sublime 'Get Your Hands Off Of My Woman' in which the end of the song is halted for around 5 minutes to include crowd participation. But everybody really starts bouncing for their most famous number 'I Believe In A Thing Called Love'.
The encore consists of the wonderful 'Christmas Time' and a very frenetic cover of Radiohead's 'Street Spirit', a long staple of their live shows. It almost seems sacrilege to even attempt to recreate such a song and yet played with such a pace it really works. It's all finished with 'Love On The Rocks' which towards the end sees Hawkins riding through the crowd on shoulders soloing on his guitar as he makes his way across the room. It's a theatrical end to a theatrical set.
Any good between song banter?
From the outset Justin states that it is probably the most ill he has ever felt during the show, but it still doesn't stop him from wearing outrageous outfits and talking to the crowd. Gentle in his tone, he communicates with both individual members and everyone collectively almost being challenged by somebody to a high voice contest.
Did they put on much of a show?
For a band that are so theatrical in the music they make, they certainly don't do things by half measures. Whether it's getting the audience to clap by standing on your head and moving your legs in time, or riding on a roadies shoulders throughout the crowd whilst mid guitar solo; Justin Hawkins likes to put on a show!
What was the highlight of the set?
Everyone knew it was coming, from the encore chants of 'Christmas song!'. As an inflatable Santa and Snowman are raised on stage there is a massive cheer on stage as the band return to play the wonderfully OTT 'Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)'. It's hard not to put a smile on your face if it's either from the festive spirit or ridiculous lyrics.
Where can I catch them next?
You can catch them before the end of the year in Bournemouth, Oxford or London before a European tour at the start of 2016.