THERE’S nothing like a good panto at Christmas and hard-rock legends The Darkness seem to agree.

Their Tour De Prance (CORR) show at the Dome fulfilled most of the criteria – sparkly costumes, singalongs, laughs and plenty of innuendo. Yes, it was a bit creaky in places but it was fun.

A few years ago, The Darkness were probably wondering where their career was. (“It’s behind you!” Sorry…) After a couple of million-selling albums it all fell apart – the way it often does when rock hopefuls become megastars overnight.

It didn’t help that outrageous US hair metal band Steel Panther suddenly made The Darkness’s retro heavy metal look very tame. But the Dome show was a triumphant return to form – and a reminder of why we love ’em.

Lead singer Justin Hawkins, wearing a turquoise catsuit slashed to the navel, is a great front man – jumping off the drum riser, playing the guitar behind his head or with one leg over the neck and wiggling his bum a lot.

His falsetto is the band’s calling card and he was in fine voice on Get Your Hands Off My Woman, Friday Night, Black Shuck and One Way Ticket. It’s all very anti-PC and in the fine tradition of AC/DC, Whitesnake and Def Leppard.

The newer material isn’t quite as top-notch but Southern Trains (Are Officially Awful) struck a chord with a Brighton audience. And it’s easy to forget that behind the antics is a really tight band, with Hawins’ younger brother Dan a genuine axe hero.

Hawkins changed into a gold lame suit for the encore of Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End) – possibly the only festive song that’s essentially a kn*b gag – and, of course, I Believe In A Thing Called Love.

At one point, Hawkins shouted defiantly: “We are the mutha******’ Darkness!” They certainly are.