The Darkness @ Manchester Academy

It was with eager anticipation that I walked into Manchester’s O2 Academy. Gin and tonic in hand, I made my way through the ever-growing crowd until I was only a few rows from the stage. Despite arriving early, it wasn’t long before the room filled behind me, and I grew impatient in the knowledge of what was to come. The Darkness are a band that I’ve grown up with, and I’ve come to love their humorous lyrics and classic-rock feel.

That night, the band were supported by Nashville-based four-piece, the Blackfoot Gypsies. Complete with fedora, flares and a charming Southern drawl, lead singer Matthew Paige led the band in an energetic set, which captivated the audience and set the tone perfectly for what was to come.

When the lights rose once more, an eruption of cheers welcomed The Darkness to the stage. Lead singer and guitarist, Justin Hawkins, emerged in a sparkling emerald jumpsuit and cape, smiling infectiously as he took his place in the centre, and the band launched immediately in to guitar-driven Open Fire. The crowd responded just as quickly, jumping up and down and shouting each lyric in perfect time. However, the pace soon changed, and the band played the much slower (but just as popular), Love is Only a Feeling. Ever the performer, Hawkins wasted no time in getting the entire audience to wave in unison.

The first glimpse into the band’s latest album came in the form of Southern Trains. This obvious dig at an underperforming rail company is exactly the sort of comedy I’d come to expect of the band, and as I listened I couldn’t help but smile to myself. Next was a series of songs from the first, and best-selling album, Permission to Land. As expected, the audience knew every line and sang along with unwavering enthusiasm. Again, Hawkins got the audience to clap and wave in time, even standing on his head at one point to clap with his feet.

All too soon, the concert finished and the encore began, made up of slightly heavier sounding Japanese Prisoner of Love, the unavoidable Christmas Time (complete with a glittering red guitar) and, finally, I Believe in a Thing Called Love. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful night. Always guaranteed to deliver a brilliant performance, The Darkness never pretend to be anything but themselves, and that is more than enough.

The Darkness’ latest album, Pinewood Smile, is out now and available to purchase on iTunes.

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