The Darkness

Dorking Halls, Dorking.
It was a concert of two halves, the first a set of rarities and singles; the second a run through of the 2003 debut album "Permission to Land". The first half was good, including a cover of Radiohead's Street Spirit as well as a quite barmy new track called "The Horn" (which probably needs no further introduction). The album run through was absolutely tremendous. The band are on fine form at the moment: Justin Hawkins is still capable of quite extraordinary vocal feats (although he is starting to look scarily like Frank Zappa); his, and the rest of the band's musicianship is certainly on a par with how it was 10 years ago, if not even better. The big singles still stand out ("Growing on Me" being a particular high point) and hearing the whole piece done again is a reminder why these guys were so massive. The show was topped off by a blast through festive shouldhavebeenanumberone "Christmas Time (Don't let the Bells End)" replete with fairy lights and a toppling Christmas tree.
The audience: 
Mainly middle aged, and fairly rock. Good atmosphere though, and no fuckwits in evidence. Audience participation was requested and honoured which added to the general sense of good humour.
Food & drink: 
There are some pretty good breweries in Surrey; I tried a Hog's Back Lager which wasn't half bad considering the heavingness of the bar. Mrs Milky had some "Raspberry Lemonade" (the kind you find in a second hand store, I guess).
It made me think: 
As much as new music can push the boundaries, sometimes all you want is 90 minutes of uncomplicated, yet humorous rock to blow away the cobwebs. The Darkness delivered that 10 years ago, and they're doing it again now.


on Thursday. The O2 was heaving and the crowd had a ball of a time; many were too young to remember the band from the first time round. Couldn't agree more about how fine they sound at the moment - I just wish Justin would play guitar more to fill out the sound a little. A great night out.

but are they the new "Gary Glitter" - just show up for Xmas shows (he did a roaring trade on the Uni circuit in the mid-1980s), or are they an all year round band ? I honestly don't know (and am too lazy to research!).

They are what they are. Comedy metal band that could have been the new Queen if they'd put the effort into songwriting and less into humourous antics.

I have actually seen them live, got swept along in the madness and went with friends to see them...indeed must be ten years ago. It was more of a cabaret act than I gig but it was OK, I think they were just sent to cheer us all up after the gloom of the early 00s - which to some extent they did.

The fact that that godawful, pompous cover of Mad World by Gary "Where are they now file" Jules got to No.1 and not 'Don't let the Bells End' is still a travesty.

so they're out there doing what they did 10 years ago again. Incidentally, also in Dorking a week earlier, I heard someone at a Christmas Fayre type thing blasting out Mr Glitter's "Another Rock and Roll Christmas", presumably from the time he was going round the universities. That's certainly a record I hadn't heard for a while...

for the first time outside a supermarket. The charity santa hadn't updated his soundtrack, but that song has seeemingly been deleted by everyone else. It was a kid's charity. Hmm.

Back before we knew, his was the hot ticket come December. Rest of the year -- not so much.

Def Leppard before their first album came out and was convinced they were some kind of Young Ones send-up.

Weren't they?

The Libertines at Islington Academy in around 2002. They were good for a few songs but then the joke wore off. The Darkness weren't bad either. Arf.

It is weird thinking about how vertiginous The Darkness' decline was. Multiple Brit Awards in 2004, huge production finale, then a second album that the public seemed determined to ignore before it came out. For me, the joke wore thin very quickly, about halfway through the first single, and maybe most people felt the same. An ex girlfriend of mine used to hang out with them at uni, and said that the comedy thing was a bit of a last roll of the dice for them as they were sick if being ignored. She thought it was a shame as they were talented enough not to need to do that. Still, they cheered people up for a while although it became a millstone for them.

They were a "serious" band for a long time before going all arch. Apparently Hawkins Jr absolutely hated the comedy shtick but went along with it when success came along.

I bought my Big Muff fuzz pedal, incidentally, off Frankie Poulain from The Darkness, about six months before they hit big. He was selling it because "we're doing a whole classic rock thing now and it's not the right sound". Nice chap. Still got the pedal, it still has a strip of masking tape underneath with "The Darkness - Frank's" written on it in marker.