Saturday the 7th of March saw Derry’s Nerve Centre reprise its former glory with a sold out show from outrageous glam rockers, The Darkness.
Over 10 years after the release of their sensational 1st album ‘Permission to Land’ the bands meteoric rise and fall has become just as notorious as Justin Hawkins bedazzled cat-suits and high pitched vocals. Returning with a new album ‘Last of our Kind’ there is a sense that this is very much a fresh start for the group as they ooze a very cool but confident aura.
Appearing on stage to a rapturous reception lead singer Justin Hawkins was barely recognisable, the infamous long hair and cat suits were gone and instead appeared a more conservative Hawkins with an albeit slightly dodgy moustache and goatee. Appearing in his signature 70’s get-up bassist Frankie Poullain embraced Hawkins before they began showing strong solidarity between the pair after animosity in the past.
Opening their set with new release ‘Barbarian’ the lyrics tell the story of real-life Viking, Ivan the Boneless and are as brutal as the songs title character. Containing not one but two dramatic monologues their sound can only be described as medieval rock and is a ferocious start to the night. Their new album which was produced by guitarist Dan Hawkins is the follow up to their 2012 release ‘Hot Cakes.’
With many fans adorned in t-shirts from past gigs it is a testament not only to the dedication of their followers but a reminder to their past domination of the UK charts. Often remembered as a caricature of glam rock covered in glitter and spandex it can often be forgotten the raw and dynamic energy that the band exude and it certainly cannot be denied tonight.
Crowd pleasers such as the infernally catchy ‘Love is Only a Feeling’ and ‘One Way Ticket’ only excite the audience further and I am soon surrounded by a choir of old rockers trying to hit those ridiculously high falsettos. Still a true showman and as boisterous as ever Hawkins had no problem slipping on a very skimpy pair of women’s underwear that had been thrown onto the stage by a more than excited crowd member.
The addition of their new female drummer Emily Dolan Davies has evidently help revitalise the group to their previous form with her hard-hitting style and rock and roll attitude. Their cover of Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit’ has been constant with the bands performance over the years but still proves as electrifying with its driving guitar and Hawkins metal howls.
Finally ‘I Believe in a Thing called Love’ the song that catapulted the band into British rock history forever. Invoking 70’s rock extravagance with its theatrical and lavish guitar and incredibly catchy pop hook the audience erupt into chaos. Coming back on to encore with ‘Every Inch of You’ and ‘Love on the Rocks with No Ice’ we see Hawkins climb onto the back of his security guard and make his way through the audience for a triumphant end to what was a truly successful night. Aine Cronin-McCartney, GiggingNI.com