‘Hot Cakes’ didn’t really pull up any trees for Justin Hawkins and The Darkness, yet the spandex-clad Reading and Leeds headliners of yesteryear still managed to draw a sizable crowd to London’s Hammersmith Apollo on 6th March 2013. In fact, for a band that does seem to be well past their sell by date, The Darkness still prove to be a considerable draw.
Support act Ginger Wildheart can’t be maligged for their lack of energy and enthusiasm, as they bound about the stage with a veritable bounce. The solos are tight, but with three guitars on stage, the sound the band created could at least have been a little louder. The riffs were rather clichéd and a bit safe for my liking, but for a support band, there can be no complaints, they were fun, and complimented the headline act perfectly.
In classic brash and balls out style, Hawkins and co. enter after a full stereo rendition of Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’ and the boys are well and truly back, resplendent with Jack Sparrow-esque beards and hairstyles that would have the boys from Steel Panther running scared. The night opens raucously and it’s obvious that sections of the crowd are well up for this, as the swaying mass at the front of the stalls erupts to the tune of ‘Every Inch of You’ (one of the many penis metaphor songs that could be enjoyed over the night).
The first real show of The Darkness’ real former powers though is when the big guns are brought out in the shape of ‘Growing on Me’, which has every punter from the dad rockers near the back enjoying a pint, to the teenie-boppers at the front, moshing frantically while singing along. It’s starkly apparent though that a majority of the crowd are at the venue for the hits, and one such number in particular, which means the midpoint of the show, which draws significantly from the new record, suffers from an atmospheric lull.
The lull can’t really be blamed on the four performers on stage, who are obviously still enjoying the hell out of tourinbg but more for the fact that most punters were yearning for the classics, the sing-alongs and numbers like ‘Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us’ and ‘Get Your Hands Off My Woman’ just see the crowd fall flat, just as the atmosphere is building. It’s a shame, as the band are born performers and the live environment is where they should flourish.
The main spectacle though, is ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’, and why shouldn’t it be? A top tune, with a great hook sung by one of the most limber and energetic frontman on the scene at the moment. They deserve to still be living off these past glories, because, well, what glories they were!
Long live The Darkness, I say!