In the aftermath of the EFG London Jazz Festival the Prickle has been populated with excellent, high-brow reviews of excellent, high-brow music. Deciding it’s time to balance that with some audial smut, I boarded a train to Cambridge to see the Darkness.
Last time I was in the Cambridge Corn Exchange I was sitting an exam. It’s not a huge venue – the auditorium has an almost village hall feel to it before the band troupe in. Once they get going though, squint and you could be anywhere – Glastonbury, Wembley, even Lowestoft. A lot of concerns evaporate instantly: oh fantastic, they’re wearing spandex catsuits; superb, that chap at the front with his hair cut short really is Justin Hawkins and not a supply teacher filling in; and (perhaps most importantly) golly, it’s been a few years but give me the right sonic impetus and apparently my body remembers how to headbang.
We’re falsettoed through the old classics alongside a smattering of choice cuts from the new album, which have a slightly more stadium rock feel. We’re entertained thoroughly. Our retinas are treated to a light show seemingly designed to mimic the surface of the sun,making the banner behind the band reading “The Darkness” at times seem deliberately ironic. We’re reliably informed, by no less an authority than Justin himself, that his brother Daniel Francis “plays the e-lectronic mother-fucking guitar”. Play it he does, and some, although the show-boating frontman keeps the pick of the solos for himself alongside playing a one-man game of strip poker throughout the set and finishing by hurling his tattooed torso into the audience for a suitably flamboyant crowd surf.
Slight nit-pick – they didn’t play Last of Our Kind which given that a) it’s the eponymous track of the new album, b) the tour is called Blast of Our Kind and c) it’s a belter seems a shame. Otherwise, despite pre-gig fears to the contrary, they completely lived up to the hype their formidable reputation generates. Great music, great performance, great entertainment.