The Darkness – King George’s Hall, Blackburn, UK (25th November 2017)

Remember the 00’s? Baggy clothes, the birth of reality tv, myspace and that band with the guy who can hit the high notes. That band was called The Darkness and guess what… they’re still going and they’re back on tour. Last Saturday they played King George’s Hall in Blackburn, a first for this band, and although it could’ve been busier it was still a great night had by all.

Opening up the evening was Tennessee based Black Foot Gypsies, the quartet have been supporting The Darkness for the duration of the tour and it seems they’re going to have gained quite a big UK fan base once the tour is done. They manage to seamlessly blend elements of rock and country together creating a unique sound that is sure to take them to high places. Having just released their second album ‘To The Top’, it seems they really are on the way to the top. One of the crowds favourites was clearly ‘I’m So Blue’, amazing riffs, stunning vocals and that added bonus of the harmonica makes for one hell of a track.

Matthew Paige on vocals and guitar is one amazing frontman, and very photogenic. Making full use of the stage in his feathered hat and shiny boots. Not to mention his distinctive voice and amazing guitar skills. Although the crowd were just getting into the music, they certainly made for a good opener and can only get better with a bigger audience.

When you tell people I was going to see The Darkness you get a varied reaction, young people have no idea who they are other than that band who did the christmas song, others have a slight giggle and say “I had no idea they were still around”. One comment a friend made was that “when they were first around they seemed like a bit of a novelty”, and after pondering on it for a while you realise that is how they are viewed to the mass audience. Their obvious biggest hit is ‘I Believe In Love’, and some may say nothing really compared to that. But when you see them live you start to understand that this isn’t just a one hit wonder, they’re as good a band as any and should be recognised for that. As they said themselves “I hope you tell you’re friends we’re fucking amazing even if you think we’re not because it’s music isn’t it.”

Frontman Justin Hawkins is one of the best frontmen in the business, he really knows how to capture an audience and really can hit those high notes, not forgetting his insane riffs and lyrical skills … who else could pull of a headstand in front of the drum kit whilst wearing an open front jumpsuit? One of the weirdly stand out moments of the evening was Justin attempting to hit the minuscule disco ball hanging from the ceiling with his guitar picks, or as he called it “plectrum into the death star”. Granted it took a fair few goes but he kept going and finally it hit followed by an eruption from the crowd. 

As the venue wasn’t to capacity it enabled The Darkness to have a more intimate gig, stopping to have quick chats with members of the audience during the song breaks. With bass player Frankie Poullain having a quick cow bell solo in the middle of the gig, which was incredible to say the least.

Finally with a quick costume change, they emerged from their encore with glittery gold guitars going into arguably their most known track ‘Christmas Time’, which resulted in a whole other level of crowd interaction. This was shortly followed by the closing song ‘I Believe In Love’, which at first started as a brilliant jazzy version, leading into an odd country version labelled as the “shittest version of this song we’ve ever done” by Justin. Eventually we got to the proper version and closed the show as perfectly with each and every member of the audience ‘attempting’ to get their voices as high as possible. Which, to my surprise, the guy next to me managed to hit almost flawlessly!