Thursday, 24 November 2011

Live Review: The Darkness @ The Academy, Sheffield

If you can forgive this momentary aberration, this drop in the indiepop facade, then I'd be grateful. For whilst indiepop is of course my heart now it hasn't always been this way. My teenage epiphanies were not with The Smiths and Belle & Sebastian but with The Darkness and The White Stripes and whilst the latter are perennially cool, I understand the former are just seen as perennial. Nonetheless, I'll put the case forward that when we disregard genre and anything deeper than the moment and the show The Darkness are a GREAT band.

That's not something that I'll say about support band Foxy Shazam however. So over-the-top as to make even Do Me Bad Things seem understated they unleashed a torrent of glam pop-rock that is either an abortion of all of the worst moments in rock history, or a deconstruction of all of the values and styles of glam. It certainly wasn't any good. Or at least it wasn't tasteful. But I think I'd see them again. Because, boy, were they entertaining. Imagine if Noel Fielding formed a spoof glam rock band.

The Darkness put on a show at least ten times that however, and have so many tunes to back it up. Of course they are in a much smaller venue than I last saw them. But that was a long time ago. Bass player Frankie Poullain is back in the fold, and unsurprisingly the set draws heavily from Permission To Land. In fact they play the whole damn thing. Starting with 'Black Shuck'. As you do.

The venue is pretty busy, especially when you consider the prices that are being charged, with large swathes of the audience being like me. Men in their mid-to-late twenties going to see one of their favourite bands of their late teenage years. It's quite nostalgic, but that's not to say that newbies fall of deaf ears. There's three or four aired tonight including 'Cannonball which sounds likely to be a single at some point in the future. They sound good and go down well with Justin commenting that the crowd are his favourite of the tour thus far. But it's safe money that he says that to all the venues. He claims his moustache is wilting from the heat nonetheless. Ace!

Old b-side 'Best Of Me' is given an unexpected (but welcome) airing. It feels like I'm one of the only members of the crowd who knows it, but everyone seems to enjoy. Singles such as 'Growing On Me', 'One Way Ticket' and 'Love On The Rocks' get the crowd excited and receive some of the best responses, but it's the unexpected moments that stick in my mind particularly. An acoustic 'Holding My Own' is a delight and their cover of Radiohead's 'Street Spirit (Fade Out)' puts a massive grin on my face. Half way through I start to worry we won't get 'Friday Night', but it's in there.

At the end of the main set the stage lighting gets a bit festive with greens and reds dominating. Justin responds to a chant of “Yorkshire! Yorkshire” by saying that his favourite thing about the county is that it's Christmas already. Yes! They play 'Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)'. I'm a Scrooge, but this is a fantastic moment. I might even find it in me to enjoy the season this year.

The encore is flawless. Instrumental 'Bareback, a cover of 'Tie Your Mother Down' and then the REALLY big guns. So confident are the band that 'I Believe In A Thing Called Love' isn't saved until last. Everyone still claps in the air for it though. 'Love On The Rocks With No Ice' is a stormer to close, with Frankie and Ed's rhythm section having been, throughout the night, as tight and thunderous as tank manoeuvres. Dan's at the front of the stage showing off and Justin rides someone's shoulders through the crowd. He's grinning, there seems to be genuine affection there. I'm grinning, I've had a great night. I love The Darkness.


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