If ever a band hit the highs, then sunk like the Titanic but then did a Lazarus, it’s The Darkness. To have made it out of modest Lowestoft is achievement enough but with the release of their 2003 debut album ‘Permission To Land’, with its good hooks and tongue in cheek lyrics, they hit the jackpot. In 2004 winning Brit Awards for the Best Group, Best British Rock band and Best Album. The slide turned out to be more like a helter skelter ride and it led to Atlantic dropping them and indeed by 2006 they had split!

They reformed in 2011 and have slowly but surely been picking up the pieces especially after Rufus Taylor (drummer and son of Roger) joined the band in 2015. Justin Hawkins, his brother Dan and bassist Frankie Poullain, and said Rufus, have since then been recording albums and gigging to all and sundry to get back their fan base and get the critics to take them seriously.

Well, it seems to have worked because there is much fervour and great anticipation for these upcoming European gigs, after an already very successful North American tour; all to celebrate the debut album, to be played in its entirety tonight. A new documentary has just been released which is warts and all stuff about a cult band struggling to recapture its former glory and the word on the street is that it is magic. Happy days seem to be back for The Darkness boys.

A few words need to be spent on the brothers, Justin and Dan. The latter, always a friend of mine, as we share the same name and adoration for Thin Lizzy. Wearing Lizzy t-shirts in 2003 for practically every TV and gig appearance, Dan won my heart and boy can he play guitar. As for Justin, well who follows his YouTube channel will know about his honesty and openness on his past addictions, his wit and wisdom, his big heart and sublime British humour. Who saw him at the glorious Taylor Hawkins tribute shows knows about his ability to sing and hold a stage. As for his guitar playing? Well, he can even upstage his brother. But still, I am sure that the main reason that the Alcatraz club in Milan is packed, full of lots of young guys and gals and some older dudes, is that this is a Bonafide rock band who have good songs, can play properly, have fun on stage and wants the audience to enjoy themselves. Seems obvious, but it’s a recipe not that many artists seem able to bring to the table these days.

Tonight is all about celebrating the debut album after its release 20 years ago. On the stroke of nine o’clock the band
bound out to a packed auditorium . Glad to see Dan in his classic black Thin Lizzy T-shirt with white logo and leather jacket. Justin with a black and white catsuit, Frankie with colourful 2-piece suit and Rufus, well, not wearing that much really. Usually, the sound in this place can be a bit iffy, but straight away Dan’s Les Paul cuts through the still air loud, biting, and vibrant and it’s clear that things are going to be ok. It’s a great show as they play the album from top to bottom and every song is pretty much a winner. They are tight and having a good time with it. They have come full circle and indeed have been granted permission to land, again by all and sundry. Needless to say, the set ends with “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”. Justin asks that all phones be put away for this one and most people oblige too. What a crowd pleaser it is, surely one of the best rock singles ever. It has everything….

Encores descend into fun and games with band swapping instruments on “Love Me 5 Times” and then rock out an an overlong “Love on the Rocks” but by this time they have done enough. They do however, like old school rock bands, close this song and indeed every song, as you should, with a proper power chord so everyone can jump and pretend they are rockstars too.

The darkness have more gigs in Europe this month and then play a load of gigs all over The Uk in December. Treat yourselves for Xmas. You know you want to.

Black Shuck
Get Your Hands Off My Woman
Growing on Me
The Best of Me
Makin' Out
Givin' Up
Love Is Only a Feeling
Curse of the Tollund Man
Stuck in a Rut
How Dare You Call This Love?
Street Spirit (Fade Out) – cover dei Radiohead
Holding My Own
Friday Night
I Believe in a Thing Called Love

I Love You 5 Times
Love on the Rocks With No Ice