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The Darkness @ New Century Hall review and gallery – equal parts absurd and accomplished

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Featured image and gallery: Ben Redshaw

Kicking off the show, Essex 5-piece, Bad Nerves, warm up the crowd with unpretentious power-pop. Starting with a chunky guitar riff, the group knows how to command attention. Bobby Nerves cuts through the support act awkwardness by making jibes at the previous night’s Glasgow audience. ‘Can’t Be Mine’, ‘Baby Drummer’ and ‘Radio Punk’ are met with a mixed reception from the early birds at the front. 

The frontman comments that the crowd is stood waiting for them to get off, before diving into their latest single, ‘USA’. By far their best reception yet, a group at the front-right cheer and chant along. An intense clap-off between the band and crowd prefaces their final number. Their feel-good rock is hard to dislike. 

Excitement builds in the room as the lights flicker back on and the crowd creeps closer for the main event. New Century Hall is a stunning venue, with a beautiful disco ceiling scrolling between colours. The mid-century building boasts it’s original sprung dance floor, and there’s a real sense of old-school gig culture. Legends like Tina Turner, the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix have graced this stage. 

As the lights dim, the crowd roars. Theatrics are in full play as the band emerge slowly in leathers, bright suits and a pleather jumpsuit. Justin Hawkins has the crowd enraptured immediately. The music cuts as he remarks, “I’ve got an idea, how about you put your fucking phones away”. Commanded, every phone in the venue goes down as they break into ‘Black Shuck’. Hawkins picks up the wrong mic for the first verse, yet no one minds – it’s all part of the fun. We’re told it’s a shame because that’s his favourite mic. 

The show is whimsical and joyful. Hawkins reminds us of his position in the band and jokes that we all know that’s more important than anything else, so there’s nothing we can do to stop them playing all the songs from their Permission to Land debut album. His audience engagement is spectacular, involving the photographers in the show and mocking us with extravagant vocal riffs during a call and response. 

It’s an emotional rollercoaster as we sing ‘Happy Birthday’ for guitarist Dan Hawkins’s 46th, then we’re urged to sing even louder for ‘Givin’ Up’. One lucky audience member gets her phone confiscated as Justin declares he’ll film the show for her, before promptly sticking the device down his pants. 

Justin shouts “Merry Christmas” before treating us to the timeless ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)’. They tease an encore before playing a rendition of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ and ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’. Purple lighting and pyrotechnics decorate the stage and highlight the electric atmosphere, with jumping and singing in every corner of the room. 

Finishing with ‘Love on the Rocks With No Ice’, The Darkness’ stagecraft is equal parts absurd and accomplished. A phenomenal and lighthearted experience, these glam-rock legends know how to captivate a room. 

About the author / 

Jess Berry

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