Twenty years on from that initial success of that 1.4 million selling debut, and they’re back to celebrate it in style, playing the whole album from start to finish, as well as some era-appropriate bonuses and deeper cuts.
Donning a black and white cat suit - as to be expected - Hawkins, swaggered with intent to the front of the stage to the opening chords - courtesy of brother Dan Hawkins - of the menacingly good ‘Black Shuck’. With an excitedly up for it sold out crowd in the building, it was apparent even this early on that Belfast was in for another treat.
Fan favourite ‘Get Your Hands Off My Woman’ followed, before early single ‘Growing on Me’, and the welcome of ‘The Best of Me’ - absent from the set since 2015.
A gloriously profanity-ridden ‘Givin’ Up’, then saw the crowd singing along more than enthusiastically, however one of the biggest moments of the night arrived with power ballad ‘Love is Only a Feeling’. Reaching number 5 in the U.K. singles chart in April 2004, it’s unsurprising that it remains one of their most beloved tracks, with the crowd singing to every word and holding their phone lights aloft.
Of course it’s not only the album they play, but a few cuts from the 20th anniversary edition as well, in ‘Curse of the Tollund Man’ and ‘How Dare You Call This Love?’; both bangers. They also revisit their heavier, almost metal cover of the Radiohead classic ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’, which provided another show stopping moment.
Unsurprisingly, it's their biggest hit, 'I Believe in a Thing Called Love' which caused the biggest stir, with the crowd almost drowning out the amped-up band. The band of course had one other track that just fell short of the fabled No.1 spot, and this being December, it's only fitting that they play it; their festive anthem 'Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End)'. It was the perfect way to end the main set.
All that's left was a short two-song encore, with a blistering 'I Love You 5 Times' and a dramatic (as always) 'Love On the Rocks With No Ice'.
The Darkness left the stage proving once again that they're one of the hottest live acts around, just as they were when they dared to buck the trend all those years ago. Justin Hawkins remains a commanding, yet witty front man, weather on the shoulders of a crew member soloing through the crowd, standing on his head playing, or simply just kicking ass playing guitar. Miss him, and the band at your peril.
Check out our gallery from the show below. All photos by Warren Blair.
Like this review? Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for regular updates & more of the same.