The Darkness

COSMO GODFREE enjoys a man with his pubes on fire, despite his cardinal sin.

cosmo godfree Gig i believe in a thing called love justin hawkins Music Radiohead street spirit The Corn Exchange the darkness The Junction

Sunday 20th November, The Corn Exchange, £25


I wanted to dislike this so much, I really did. But I didn’t. Waiting for the gig to start, I thought I had the review all planned out – I would poke fun at Justin Hawkins? ridiculous outfits, I would take the piss out of his silly Empire moustache that makes him look like an extra from Pirates of the Caribbean. I?d make a hilarious joke about how they probably shouldn?t have bothered with the reformation after all. And anyway, it?s about time I got a less-than-positive review under my belt. If there were any band in the world that I could afford to be a bit mean about, surely The Darkness were prime candidates?

A closed mind, Tab readers, is a dangerous thing. It quickly became very apparent that I was going to struggle with my sarcastic plan. When it arrived, the opening riff of Black Shuck smacked me right out of smug journalist mode. From then on in, everything that should just have been laughable was elevated to a supreme platform of guitar heroism. Endless soloing, mid-song handstands and that falsetto – all part of the fun!


The Darkness – I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Never mind that a couple of costume changes left Justin looking like a) The Hitcher, and b) a down-on-his-luck Cat in the Hat. Never mind that at times it all felt a bit too much like We Will Rock You: The Musical (Justin and brother/guitarist Dan Hawkins could be dead ringers for Freddie Mercury and Brian May…). The Darkness were killing it. Five-star review in the bag.

Everything was going so well. Too well, in fact. Just when the band were on the verge of completely winning me round, I heard a familiar riff being played. Sped-up and completely brutalised, it was still just about recognisable as Radiohead?s Street Spirit, stripped bare of all its tragic beauty. What followed genuinely made me feel a little bit ill. While I am aware that this may be a bit of an extreme reaction to what was just a simple bit of fun, well, I cannot forgive you, The Darkness, for ruining this song.


Radiohed – Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Ahem. Anyway, for a relatively small venue like The Corn Exchange, the production values of this show were fantastic. Great lighting setup, sudden pyrotechnic blasts that burn your retinas, and Justin somehow spitting fire out of his hands. It all works well, but really, this is a band whose songs demand arenas and huge festival fields.

The highlight tonight (and really, could it have been anything else?) is a storming rendition of I Believe In a Thing Called Love, Justin having changed into his classic skintight catsuit before the encore. Master performers that they are, they tease us with the opening riff for what seems like ten minutes before erupting. Closing with an epic version of Love On the Rocks With No Ice where Justin rides a security guard through the crowd, I can almost forgive them that Radiohead cover. There?s definitely a fine line between funny parody and just plain crap. But for the most part, The Darkness manage to straddle it perfectly.