A review of a Darkness gig at the Liverpool Carling Academy, December 11, 2003.
Pictures are available here: http://kamps.org/g/?436 (yes, I had a photo pass)

The Rocking Darkness Rock the rocking Liverpool Academy. With Rock.

It all started as a big bright pink spandex-clad joke, but The Darkness, who now seem to have a honest stab at the Christmas number 1 best-selling single, rocked the socks off the audience at the Liverpool Academy on Thursday.

Lead vocalist Justin, his brother and rhythm guitarist Dan, drummer Ed and bassist Frankie make up the quartet known as the Darkness. Launching into their set in silhouettes from behind a silk veil covering the whole stage, it becomes clear that no – this is no joke. From the very first power chord, The Darkness have the 2200-strong crowd in a firm grip. With the Liverpool concert (rescheduled due to a last-second cancellation in November), the Darkness are finishing their tour of the UK.

One would be forgiven for thinking that Justin's painfully high-pitched falsetto voice would be more suitable for training dogs (hey, it is poodle-rock, after all). However, combined with the surprisingly catchy four-chord tunes and a downright intimidating stage presence, the fans are more than willing to forgive their shortcomings and just roll with it. In a music world filled with pretentious “new metal” with musicians who feel they have to be the coolest kids on the block, The Darkness is a delightful counter-weight. The official merchandise thongs in men’s sizes say it all.

Letting the audience choose whether they were to play the “clean” or “dirty” version of Get Your Hands off my Woman unsurprisingly resulted in a barrage of filthy language after the rowdy horde of fans had spoken their mind. There is something to be said about getting several thousand people aged twelve to fifty to scream the F-word at the stage, and being able to revel in it the way the broadly grinning band members did.

The set list included classic hits such as Givin' Up, Friday Night and of course their massive #1 single I Believe In A Thing Called Love, interspersed with random anecdotes and semi-indecipherable rants. The summit of the evening was Justin’s extensively long guitar solo, as he was carried around in the crowd by a group of particularly sturdy bouncers. Anyone who can keep a more or less coherent tapping-and-plucking metal guitar solo going with more than two thousand people trying to touch them deserves respect. Or as Justin said himself: “I am surprised that I got through that with my rings still in my nipples and my balls still in my ballsack. Thank you, guys!”

The last encore, Christmas single Don’t Let the Bells End, followed by a blizzard of “snow” in the form of paper snippets raining down on everybody in the crowd was a worthy finale to a truly memorable concert experience.

It is not difficult to find more skilled musicians – even in the poodlerock genre – than Justin and the rest of the Darkness. Their sheer energy and showmanship, however, lifts the concert experience to a level beyond what most bands could only dream of.