Fresh from the October release of their sixth studio album, the experimental ‘Easter Is Cancelled’, The Darkness arrived in Belfast on Tuesday night (26th November 2019), for a stop off their usual haunt; The Limelight.
No strangers to the city, the show followed on from their appearance in October 2017, which saw the band hit all the high notes on their comically-titled 'Tour de Prance' trek.
Kicking into gear with the tongue in cheek ‘Rock n Roll Deserves To Die’, all eyes turned to the forever 'understated' Justin Hawkins, who arrived in a plume of smoke, white spandex, and whiter teeth, all displayed with his customarily cocky vigour.
“This is a new experience for us", said the front man, explaining the band's bold approach to this tour. "We’re going to play the new album completely, and then give you a second set; the hits. Who could ask for more?” Going on to rip through 'Easter is Cancelled' in order at breakneck speed, standouts included the rampant ‘Live Till I Die’ with its' catchy chorus, the combustable‘Heart Explodes’, and lighter-waving anthem ‘Deck Chair’, all delivered the band's usual mix of vocal acrobatics backed by heavy rock riffage.
Disappearing briefly ahead of act two, the four-piece reappeared, resplendent in smoking jackets, leather, and, naturally, blindingly colourful spandex. With a soundtrack to match the ott outfits, cowbell in hand, bassist Frankie Poullain counted in the opening bars to a rapturously received, ‘One Way Ticket To Hell... And Back!’, which set the scene perfectly for a journey through the high points of band's discography.
Going on to “melt your motherf***ing faces”, ‘Barbarian’ and ‘Growing On Me’ raised the roof, in a set which served to remind just how many hits the band have in their sizable cannon. ‘Japanese Prisoner Of Love’, ‘Love Is Only A Feeling’ and ‘Solid Gold’; they were all there, turning the gig into rock and roll karaoke, with the crowd singing along to every note - even the ones that they couldn’t reach.
A cover of Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit’ interjected with The Beatle’s ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ offered a calmer pace, and a slight left turn, before normal service was resumed, with career high-watermarks ‘Get Your Hands Off My Woman’ (featuring Justin performing handstands), and iconic breakthrough anthem ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’.
“This will need to be our last song as we’ve been pissing around too much”, remarked Hawkins senior, stating the obvious. “You’ll all notice the last song is clearly marked…” waving the set list before finishing and ushering in the festive spirit with ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)’, and ending the night with the loudest singalong yet.
Almost two decades into their career, The Darkness are still a force to be reckoned with, and one of the most entertaining live acts on the circuit. With Easter cancelled, let's hope they return quicker than Jesus.
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Check out our gallery from the show below. All photos by Warren Blair.