We’ve seen a fair amount of shows hosted by The Darkness here at Nottingham Rock City over the years and we are yet to be disappointed. This band could well be the most perfect of soundtracks to a Saturday night at the start of the boozy festive season. There’s certainly a strong party atmosphere inside Rock City as a haze of body heat and vape hangs low over the sold out crowd.
And when we say “Sold Out”, we mean “Ram-Jam Sold Out”. This is going to be a sweaty old night.
Opening up tonight we have Blackfoot Gypsies. You never really know what you are going to get with The Darkness in terms of opening bands. Casting the mind back we’ve had anything from Ginger Wildheart to 3 Inches of Blood. These guys look typically out there and something equally as fresh…
Feathers in their hats, a full-time harmonica player and a bass player who looks like he might be Noel Fielding’s twin brother; these guys are eye-catching under the warm glow of Rock City’s lights. Just looking at the Nashville crew before us, we can see that these guys are going to come with a large serving of vintage.
No surprises when they kick into a bluesy southern jam of a set then! They have foot-stomping twang by the boatload and although we are here for a night of slightly cheesy pop-cock-rock, Blackfoot Gypsies get us warmed up and ready for action with ease.
A quick re-stock of fluids and we’re ready for the main event.
Striding out onto the stage in a dashing aqua-marine cat suit, we’re delighted to see that Justin is bringing the full Darkness treatment to us from the off (we were slightly disappointed last time they were here that he was wearing a velvet suit type-thing for the photos). We want nothing but pure glam!
Dan is in the usual Thin Lizzy shirt under his track top, Frankie looks like your eccentric mad uncle that you see once in a while down the local pub and Rufus, well he’s sat behind the drums. He looks like a drummer…
Shooting straight into ‘Open Fire’ is sure way to hit the ground running. Surely, it’s one of their best cuts since the re-union and our first sing-along of the night. Nottingham is in fine voice and seemingly up for a long night of party tunes.
There’s a relaxed atmosphere to the show. Justin stops to take on some Highland Spring after a couple of songs and almost makes it into a full set of commercials. When someone in the crowd shouts for ‘Knockers’ to be played (Callum, from memory), Justin reels off the opening bars for a crowd led sing along. Participation is however… a bit low; so it’s on with the scheduled set list.
‘Southern Trains’ is a riffy little number from the new album but if some are not over-familiar with ‘Pinewood Smile’ just yet, the new stuff doesn’t over-power the set. In fact it’s an almost perfect cross section of new, old and some from the middle.
‘Black Shuck’ and ‘One Way Ticket’ is a tasty little duo of hits to reel out early in the set and then following it up with ‘Giving Up’ sends everything a little bit bananas. The crowd swells with mini moshpits and there are beaming smiles all over as The Darkness certify themselves as the kings of a bloody good time.
An unexpected treat is getting ‘Makin Out’ slipped into the show. A classic b-side that is a rarity played live and ‘Solid Gold’ is already a classic in the making despite its juvenile status.
As a finale to the main set, we get three of the best from ‘Permission to Land’
‘Stuck in a Rut’ into ‘Get Your Hands off My Woman’ and the ultimate air guitar anthem ‘Growing on Me’.
As promised, they return for an encore complete with a fresh cat suit. We’ve a good idea that we’ll be getting the big Christmas hit and the big-big hit, but we weren’t ready for some rough and ready covers too.
‘Christmas Time…’ is preceded by a run through Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ which has the crowd swaying with lighters (phones) in the air. After the flurry of confetti for the seasonal song, we get Guns’n’Roses (Sweet Child O’ Mine) and AC/DC (Thunderstruck) thrown in the mix too.
“Any band that can follow those songs with their own song is doing well. Unfortunately, we cannot…”
Justin bids us farewell…
He’s only joking. The band wouldn’t get out alive without playing ‘I Believe…’ and they blast it out with a loud and well oiled crowd providing the backing vocals.
So it’s another victorious night at Rock City for The Darkness. A night that could only be bettered by seeing a slightly overweight chap attempting to be lifted ‘Dirty Dancing’ style by his beer-up mates and hitting the floor with an almighty slap.
And with a sound that can only be compared to a whale falling off of a trampoline, the evening is well and truly complete!
Words and Pics by Rob W