Live review

The Darkness 

Oxford O2

added: 16 Dec 2013 // gig date: 13 Dec 2013
reviewer: Marnie Wood

The Darkness - Oxford O2 - Printable version
On Friday The Darkness asserted themselves in my mind as the best modern rock act in the UK. Not only are they fiercely talented but the band seep intelligence and modesty. Their stage show was, unusually, simultaneously crafted and sporadic, with singer Justin Hawkins swinging from light fixtures and inviting audience members on stage to dress him in their finest, in combination with pre-recorded comedic dramatic monologues and planned audience entering.

The band played a ‘split set’ with the first half including tracks from albums ‘Hot Cakes’ and ‘One Way Ticket to Hell and Back’ and the second half seeing ‘Permission to Land’ played in its entirety. After their reformation in 2011 it is clear that music is the sole force bonding these musicians. The band played with passion and substance, Justin’s voice was incredible and the combined technical skill of Dan Hawkins, Frankie Poullain and Ed Graham is unmatched by any other modern band.

Justin embodies perfectly all the qualities a frontman should posses; he acted as a comedian, performed flawlessly and even did a headstand in front of the drum kit as a testament to his physical strength. His positive and playful demeanour definitely rubbed off on the crowd who all danced and chanted constantly throughout the show. Signs at the entrance requested no video recording was to be made of the show and I can’t help but feel the lack of camera phones was the reason for such a fantastic crowd vibe.

The gig saw Dan Hawkins turning thirty and mid-set the tour manager brought in party poppers and a car cake, with Hawkins wittily commenting that he would rather ‘a Maserati than a Ferrari’. The band has been through a lot in the last ten years, with addiction and arguments disrupting their ability to focus on the music. The birthday celebration felt like a milestone in Darkness history, cementing their ability to rise up from the darkest depths of failure and reignite their musical flame with passion and a large pinch of satire.

The encore ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)’ was fantastically festive. Christmas crackers were thrown into the crowd by an elf, a real pine tree placed on stage and dozens of lights brought to adorn the set with twinkly tackiness. The Darkness have made rock and roll their own art form and I feel honoured to have seen them in such an intimate venue.

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5 stars

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