i’ve not blogged at work for absolutely ages. i don’t really feel too guilty as: 1. there is no work (yet) 2. it’s friturday.


i saw the darkness on monday. trawled up all the way and back to the toon for that. seems a tad far, but i’ve done day trips before for the likes of dylan and oasis, no worries. firstly, watching justin hawkins et al live reaffirms what i thought of them as musicians. they are not a joke band. they rocked, yeah, fine; but they really can play. some may find justin’s quirky falsettos annoying but his singing is indeed superb, in the rock sense. and he plays a mean guitar solo. where else can you get a frontman who also handles the majority of the solos (i’ve seen hetfield and corgan do occasional ones, but there ya go)?

they’ve done the ‘toilet’ circuit in their early days as a band and within a year their rise in the UK scene was phenomenal. they are currently doing their second album at the mo’, and the punters will be able to sample their new material on their 2004 winter tour. i missed the first support act, do me bad things, and managed to catch the latter half of ash‘s performance. i always felt that tim wheeler’s voice had always been a little bit off live, and i was proven wrong. gone is rick mcmurray’s cringeworthy mohawk. the crowd rocked along half-heartedly as they played oh yeah, a life less ordinary, shining light and kung fu. they ended the set with burn baby burn, which i absolutely loved – the guitar riffs are class, as were the cheerleaders in the video.

the darkness’ set started off with an ABBA-esque overture (probably it was ABBA!) and they kicked off with a new song. givin’ up and stuck in a rut led the crowd into more familiar ground. the stage was stereotypically that of a big rock band, with pyros to boot. dan had four marshall full stacks, two of each powered by gibson and (possibly) matchless heads; whilst justin used two mesa (?dual ?triple) rectifier full stacks. the guitar changes were not that many, with dan using mainly LP standards and justin playing further customised LP customs. nice.

they played love is only a feeling and another (new) power ballad, with justin promising the crowd that it’ll be strictly rock from that point onwards. justin’s quite funny and really knows how to entertain the crowd with his antics. i loved it when he got the different sides of the arena to sing falsetto-ed bits of songs with him, preluded by the cliched oh-glasgow-were-very-loud-so-you-better-sound-louder encouragement. screaming “moooooother!!!” and “fuuuuucker!!!” was simply unforgettable. he’s also a dab hand on the keyboard, where he fooled around with a short rendition of stevie wonder’s i just called to say i love you and a fucked up version of lindisfarne’s fog on the tyne.

if there was one man in rock with the biggest balls in all rock-dom, i’d have to say that the title should be awarded to frankie poullain. man, with that bandana-ed small afro and the campest zapata moustache, he has my respects. he played a white gibson thunderbird mostly, and occasionally a fender precision. justin basically stripped down to mere basics by the fourth number, and turned pirate for black shuck. the cherry that topped the darkness cake was justin’s solo on love on the rocks with no ice – playing a les paul whilst sitting on a flying white tiger. yeah! you can’t be any more rock than that!

they ended the show with let the bells end (fnarr! fnarr!) and the arena crowd was later showered with glitter. no one/band this day and age would put on a show like the darkness. the band had once commented in an interview that rock ‘n’ roll cannot be taken too seriously. the music has to be great and they’re out there to entertain. and entertained they did.


for more pics and the set list of the newcastle gig, go here.