I hadn’t seen UK modern-day rock legends the Darkness for many years so I was really looking forward to a full show from them at the Barbican in York. I was there with my friend and work colleague Paul Kennedy. First on stage were Rews, the brainchild of Irish rocker Shauna Tohill. Rews are heavy but with a quirky pop edge and their energy appears to be limitless. This is the first time that I have seen Rews and I believe that anyone at this show who saw their electrifying support set will have walked away as a Rews fan, many were already Rews fans. I am definitely a fan of this band now.
So now it was the time for the Darkness. They played two sets, the first of which was a complete run-through of their new album ‘Easter is Cancelled’. This record, released earlier this year, is a towering return to form and some of the songs appear to be tailor-made for playing live, especially “Rock and Roll Deserves to Die”, “Heavy Metal Lover” and “Choke On It”. There is not a duff track on this record and that is even more apparent as the band tore up the stage with a stunning showcase of the new songs. Justin is on particularly good form during the show and his brother Dan’s guitar work is on a par with so many great British rock guitarists. The set closed with a solo acoustic “We Are The Guitar Men” from Justin Hawkins. It is a great song, but the softer style did give us all a moment to draw breath before the full-on sonic attack of the second set. It was opened by a thunderous romp through “One Way Ticket” from their second album. For me the best moments were hearing the songs from the first album again; “Growing On Me” and “Get Your Hands Off My Woman”. But they, probably as expected, saved the best until last with a tune that Justin introduced as their most famous song, “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” which was greeted with such rapturous applause it might have registered on the Richter scale. Justin’s humour was well played, he even wore an “Aye Up” T-Shirt which seemed to please the predominantly Yorkshire crowd. The band actually played along to the “Yorkshire, Yorkshire” chant too. If anyone had told me that the Darkness might be a good choice to cover Radiohead I might have laughed. But their take on “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” was something special. They gave it a completely new lease of life and stamped their signature all over it. They also managed to include a few bars and lines of the Beatles “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. Is the world ready for a Darkness covers album? I think so. It was late December and there was always going to be an encore and I think most of us guessed that it would be “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)”. But what a stunning, singalong end to a night to remember. With the Darkness you don’t just get a gig, you get a show!
All the photos apart from the gig poster were taken by me on my cheap Chinese android phone. The videos were all found on YouTube if one of them is yours and you would like a credit or for me to remove it please let me know.
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