The Darkness (with Gun), Glasgow O2 ABC

The Darkness
The Darkness (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[Full set of Gun pictures / Full set of The Darkness pictures]

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Gun live before and I didn’t know they were opening for The Darkness until we arrived and some of the songs sounded familiar. A shame we missed the first half of their set, but sometimes work has to take precedence and the ABC has an early curfew, so…

At least we managed to hear “Word Up“, their most famous single (although admittedly a cover!) rocked out by a cracking bunch of lads playing to a hometown crowd. They deservedly got a good response and left the stage to leave us stood there waiting for The Darkness.

For Ages.

OK, so I was expecting them on around half past eight. Fifteen minutes after that, the lights went down and “The Boys Are Back In Town” blared out. And kept blaring out. For about two-thirds of its length. Before finally being replaced by an introductory bagpipe-based intro.

Which went on. And on. And on…

Guys – ditch the sodding intro music and play another two songs next time! I suppose we shouldn’t complain so far seeing as Glasgow was the only city to get a headlining performance, the rest of the country having to make do with a support slot in exchange for a £50 Lady Gaga ticket.

Once the Brothers Hawkins, Ed and Frankie finally hit the stage, though, rock and roll hell broke loose for ninety lovely minutes. While the new album is definitely not as good as the first two, the songs from it weren’t bad and didn’t leave the crowd twiddling their thumbs waiting for another older song. Thankfully, all of the classics were present and correct.

There was one guy in front of us who really liked the band, spending the last half of their set going mental. Much to our amusement and the annoyance of those around him he kept knocking into!

While The Darkness will never reach their stadium-filling heights again, they’re great value for a live act. Entertaining, silly, loud, and fun. And, dare I say it, if ever there were a natural successor to Freddy Mercury then it’s Justin Hawkins. Spandex, goofy teeth, high-kicking, energetic, funny and a great vocal range. He should have been on that Queen tour, not some American kid from a dodgy TV show.

As I think I said in my review of their show last year, great to see them back and keeping good, old-fashioned rock and roll alive one show at a time.

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The Darkness / Foxy Shazam – Glasgow Academy

Foxy Shazam
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

[photos of this gig are in this Flickr collection for Foxy Shazam and this one for The Darkness]

It’s not often I’ll go on about a support act, but Foxy Shazam deserve a mention. There was another opener, but I have no idea who they were – even the Academy’s website didn’t bother to list them. Foxy Shazam, though… wow. The first time I heard their name was when I checked the aforementioned website to find out who was supporting about an hour before the doors opened. After a quick peak on YouTube, I decided “yes, I should get there early enough for this bunch”.

They were most definitely, for me, worth turning up for although opinions were divided. I was stood behind a woman who looked like she was wearing a huge blonde wig. I happened to glance at her ridiculously decoratively nailed fingers as she texted someone. “Just not getting this. Singer’s a bit of a knob.” This from someone  who’d paid money to see Justin Hawkins & co, and who was wearing a Steel Panther t-shirt. Two of the biggest “knobs” in frontsmen, and she reckons someone else is a bit of a nutjob?

In fairness, he was a bit of a knob. But a funny one, and certainly the most hyperactive lead singer I think I’ve ever witnessed on stage. Hell, the whole band were in permanent motion and there are 6 of them. I’m amazed there weren’t any accidents. The keyboard player with the huge beard spent a good portion of the set with one or both feet on the keys, or trying to play the huge instrument like a guitar. The bassist, at one point, had his guitar balanced by the head end upside down in one hand above his head. The singer, towards the end, was sat on the guitarist’s shoulders.

The Darkness
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Mental. What they crammed into a thirty minute set, many other bands barely manage to hit you with in ninety.

Oh, and the songs weren’t half bad either. Definitely one to watch out for.

And shortly after, the headliners. The Darkness blasted on stage to a rendition of “Black Shuck”, the brothers Hawkins acted as if the band hadn’t been on a forced hiatus after the lead singer decided that cocaine was a viable alternative to three square meals a day. Tight, fun, bouncy and loud.

The only other time I’ve seen them live was at Leeds Festival when they were still riding high with the one album under their wing. This didn’t make for a good set as the album is only around 45 minutes long and they played for ninety, which means a huge amount of filler including two unfinished songs. This time, however, was much improved.

The Darkness
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Beginning the gig inside a huge cage, drummer Ed Graham was “released” part way through – the only major piece of stage work. The rest of the gimmicks relied on a couple of indoor fireworks and a ton of lights. And it worked just fine, thanks.

I think the band have had their day and are about where they should be after all the ridiculous hype around them when Permission To Land came out. They pretty much filled the Academy (not quite as much as Motorhead the other night, but still packed out), and the crowd had a whale of a time. The place was visibly jumping when the expected encore of I Believe In A Thing Called Love” began.

Not the huge stadium-filling megastars their record obviously thought they should be a few years ago, but damn good fun all the same.

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