The Darkness @ Brighton Dome

Tuesday 10th December

IT'S no secret that The Darkness were turned down by multiple record labels before inking their first deal. What followed was a big surprise to many.

Though they didn’t have critical praise what they did have was a load of songs that connected with an audience looking for something different. If tonight proves anything it’s that they are still able to surprise.

Choosing to deviate from a standard formula by offering us 2 sets, we see a band that at first concentrates on showing us what The Darkness currently are.

Playing the entirety of their new album, Easter is Cancelled, we see a band that continues to evolve.

Songs such as opener Rock and Roll Deserves to die and Heavy Metal Lover still contain their trademark exuberance, which has at times welcomed a prog rock edge.

It is within the 2nd half and a costume change later that we see them become a band focused on entertaining. Starting with ‘One way ticket’ we see a band that happily roll out fan favourites and the hits from both their 2003 debut ‘Permission to land’ and its 2005 follow up.

The performance may be gimmicky, and almost cringe-worthy at times but this is all part of The Darknesses being. In a music scene that at times can be far too drab, we need bands that will entertain, and like Kiss they are a band that embrace theatrics.

Singer Justin Hawkins is a connoisseur when it comes to rock star moves and this second half we see him return to full on rock star mode. Whether performing handstands, pouting, leading the audience through a rendition of ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’ or knocking out hard edged guitar riffs, Hawkins is in his element when centre stage in a cat suit.

Songs such as the anthemic I Believe In A Thing Called Love and Growing on Me are songs that are delivered with gusto and are lapped up by an appreciative audience who are more than happy to sing along.

But given the time of year, tonight also wouldn’t feel right without a rendition of their seasonal song Christmas Time (Don’t let the bells end), which serves as the nights closer.

For their now annual Pre-Christmas Brighton appearance we witness a band that is continuing to ignore any naysayers and forge their own way path forwards. Write The Darkness off at your peril.

Nathan Westley