The Darkness @ Shepherds Bush Empire

8th June 2011

It is with great excitement and bursting anticipation the DoesItRock posse took up position in the Shepherds Bush Empire to witnes what is was sure to be the reunion which will brighten up the rock scene with incredibly camp singing, outrageoesly tight outfits and hard rock genius. That’s right, after a 5 year break the original lineup of The Darkness are back, and ready to glam up the charts once more!

Before though we had to wait a little bit longer as Max Raptor warmed up the crowd. This was a very hit an miss set, their song melodies were good as were their energy. But the sound balance was terrible and vocals were hard to make heads or tail of. On reflection, this was not a set likely to win them any new fans. A slight disappointment as I quite enjoyed their latest studio offering.

Max Raptor

Suddenly an Irish jig broke through the PA systems cycle of hard rock classics, as on strutted  Frankie, Ed, Dan and Justin to roars and appropriately camp woops of approval from the crowd. This was their Download festival performance warm up tour labeled “…As Promised“, it surely delivered on its label as they flew straight into the quo-esque galloping instrumental Bareback. Immediately you can feel hey are having fun once more as they dart about stage using every inch of stage space available.

The Darkness

Justin had lost nothing (and gained a rather twirly moustache), as his male defying falsetto scaled into the hearing ranges of dogs soaring epic chorus’s while his flying fingers blazed the frets and his overenthusiastic body instinctively launched into split jumps at sporadic intervals. Justin was un-characteristically quiet throughout, but his antics and unhinged energy were plenty to contend with.

Hawkins & Co. back in business,,,

The set was drawn heavily from their debut and breakthrough album Permission to Land, with only one tune coming from their ill fated second LP. After years away they still sounded as joyously kick ass as they did in 2003 as they ran through hit after hit. Highlights include the racously rampaging Get Your Hand Off Of My Woman (probably the most camp fight song ever), sing-a-long classic Friday Night and the truly gigantic power ballad Love Is Only A Feeling. The new tracks given their first outings this evening were very falsetto heavy and so were tricky to decipher.

This was a show chocked full of good old fashion entertainment value, playing all the ace tricks including confetti, jokes, fireworks, and streamers. They laugh in the face of seriousness as the cat suit was unleashed, it was a cheeky little black number with a tail this time!

At the height of their success they ended their UK tour with sold out 3 nights at Wembley aren where Justin rounded out a show soloing Love On The Rocks WIth No Ice atop of a white tiger suspended 30ft above the crowd…tonight he had to settle with a 3ft box on wheels, but the premise was the much the same!

Justin Hawkins sporting a cheeky tash

With more performances like tonight, surely it will not be long before these heights are scaled once more. A sub headline slot at Download festival is up next for the boys…I’ll be there to see of they can top this triumphant comeback show!

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