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Sunday, 24 November 2013

The View From The Back Of The Room: The Darkness

The Darkness, Lostalone & The River 68's, Solus Cardiff

The Darkness were at one time the biggest rock band in the world but drug use, fall outs and general madness led to them splitting but you can't keep a good band down and now they are back with a new album named Hot Cakes. However this tour is a retrospective celebrating the tenth anniversary of their debut Permission To Land by playing the album in full. Still with excitement in the air the first support act came on stage.

The River 68's

The River 68's as a full band are a soulful blues rock band, but in this setting they were playing as an acoustic duo with Craig McGabe and his guitar playing brother Chris stripping their songs back to their roots. Chris' guitar and harmonica was very good and their songs were soulful and sounding like The Black Crowes and Neil Young. The bands power lies in Craig's voice which is staggeringly powerful. I'd love to see them as a full band as they were impressive as a duo. 8/10

Lostalone

Dire, totally dire, a horrible mix up of cocksure indie/pop punk, emo and rubbish songs. The band seemed amateur and confused about what they wanted to sound like. If I never see them again that will be too soon. I'm sorry but it's no from me. 0/10

The Darkness

Finally the moment we had all been waiting for, the PA blasted out The Boys Are Back In Town by Thin Lizzy before another intro introducing the Hawkins brothers killed the momentum, however as The band took to the stage to a rapturous reception they went straight into Makin' Out from the last record before following up with the hard rocking She's Just A Girl Eddie which was an opening salvo that showed that the band had missed a step since reforming, Dan was resolute as the riffmeister extraordinaire peeling off riff after riff, Frank Poullain pulled his four (g?) strings with a dignified precision and Ed Graham silently smashed the hell out of his drum kit. The focus as usual was on Justin who told us early on that his voice was going due to illness, but if it was I couldn't hear it, it was there in full falsetto glory screeching and screaming over the riotous rawk! Hawkins (J) moved between guitar and straight vocals doing his best Freddie when not hindered by the axe. Throughout the band straddled the line between Spinal Tap and Queen merging majesty with mayhem. Is It Just Me? followed before we were welcomed into the dirty world of The Horn and Every Inch Of You. A gap in proceedings and Justin offered £100 pounds to anyone that knew the next song and true to his word when two people down the front he borrowed £100 pounds and gave it to the shouting fans. The song was The Ballad Of The Tollund Man which featured some extremely high vocals from Poullain, who was inaudible until Justin sorted the sound out by shouting at the sound man. The song faded into Street Spirit (Fade Out) ironically. The final song of the main set was the ode to the white stuff One Way Ticket which featured the deliberately worst drum solo of all time! The fans rolled and rocked to the main set but another (slightly long intro) led into the opening to of Black Shuck (that dog don't give a fuck!) before they rolled through the Permission To Land album mass sing-alongs erupted to Get Your Hands Off My Woman, Growing On Me, I Believe In A Thing Called Love and Love Is Only A Feeling. There was jumping, shouting, clapping and fist pumping throughout all led by the ringmaster Justin who was bedecked in a bright pink cat suit. The band tore through Stuck In A Rut, Givin Up and Friday Night before the set piece of Love On The Rocks With No Ice set the place on fire as Justine soloed around the crowd on top of a roadies shoulder before arriving back on stage for the finale of Holding My Own. Thoroughly exhausted both the band and the fans took a break, what more could they play? we asked ourselves but we were quickly answered as the band came back out with their Crimbo garb on for the seasonal hit (it's only November guys!). Still we gleefully sang along and cheered when they ended the set proper. Yes they are like audio marmite but The Darkness are possibly one of the most entertaining live bands this side of Evil Scarecrow merging the sublime and the ridiculous. They are well worth watching and I'm just pleased I saw them on this special tour. 10/10 
 

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