© Kurt Dean Darby
Live Gig Review by Kurt Dean Darby (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
As the energetic power rock bunch LostAlone take to the stage, the small crowd that has gathered in Belfast’s intimate Limelight, they are scattered throughout the venue making it feel empty and somewhat killing the atmosphere. You could tell a lot of this crowd weren’t familiar with LostAlone from the looks of it, and if like me, you had been fortunate enough to witness the band in action before, you could also tell these people were beyond underestimating the explosive power house that was yet to come.
Straight off, LostAlone’s guitar wielding frontman, Steven Battelle, is instantly likable, sporting a Monster’s University letterman jacket, he gets off the stage half way through the opening track ‘Guilty’ to gather his audience closer to the stage.
Between songs, he is constantly talking and engaging with the crowd, triggering laughter and smiles in the once seemingly doubtful audience. To prove just how relaxed he is, Battelle, mid-song answers his phone and simply says, “sorry, can’t talk, playing a gig”. Whipping out what Battelle describes as ‘the weirdest guitar ever’ causes chuckles in the crowd, which are then immediately silenced as the hybrid instrument is put to use. The band dynamic is incredible musically and you can see they are all enjoying what they had been sent out there to accomplish. Despite the small gathering, they achieve an epic sound which deserves to be heard headlining a stadium someday.
The guitar work is something to be admired also as the riffs and solos blast through the Limelight in songs like ‘Creatures’ and ‘The Bells! The Bells!!’.
LostAlone end their set to an overwhelmed crowd which are gasping for more with the catchy ‘Love Will Eat You Alive’ from their 2012 album “I’m A UFO In This City”. What a warm up act it was, and it was a much needed one too in preparation for what was to come…
Firstly, I would like to admit that I was never really a big fan of The Darkness. I saw them as outlandish and a complete piss take, without even giving them a chance. Yes, I enjoyed their big hits ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ and ‘Christmas Time’ simply out of a personal novelty factor which had been established (and ok, the guitar riff in ‘I Believe In a thing Called Love is pretty awesome, I admit it).
And so, The Darkness celebrate their 10th anniversary of their bestselling album ‘Permission To Land’, by going on tour and performing the album in its entirety-along with other crowd pleasing hits to start the night off.
When The Darkness hit the stage, they emerge together as silhouettes in a rather brilliant lighting spectacle, almost like self-declared God’s. Immediately, the ‘outlandish’ and ‘piss-take’ attitude is there but instead of it originally being the reason why I ridiculed The Darkness, it becomes the reason why I support them. They are outlandish and ridiculous, and it’s actually quite brilliant. Wearing glam-rock inspired surreal outfits, they look and sound fabulous.
It’s not hard to tell, The Darkness have landed, and they have every member of the audience’s permission to do so too. Opening with the riff heavy ‘Makin Out’, the entire crowd is electric and respond instantaneously to The Darkness’ musical commands which include lots of jumping, singing along and clapping in time. Musically, they’re just how they sound on their records with the exception of a pesky microphone which fails to carry across Justin Hawkins’ vastly ranged voice. It’s not long before this simple problem is solved and Hawkins’ high pitched squeals are heard as clearly as they should be.
Tonight it seems that the theme is likable frontmen, as Hawkins’ is instantly a lovable character as he madly jumps around the stage blasting out guitar solos and singing each note perfectly while maintaining an intimate connection to his audience, who have filled the Limelight now since LostAlone left the stage. Hawkins’ between songs is always talking and on the move, doing things like taking ‘selfies’ on various audience members phones which generates big laughs as well as egg on members of the crowd who are singing songs which aren’t even on tonight’s setlist, to continue before saying “Okay, that was lovely, now its our turn!” before cracking on with the set.
There is a short interval after the single ‘One Way Ticket To Hell and Back’ where The Darkness exit, and epically re-enter in new shiny outfits onto the stage to previously recorded voice overs from each band member which lets them talk about the album, Permission To Land, accompanied by an over the top lighting set up that make the band look like rock and roll demi-gods which have just been introduced into a film. What follows is simply an exhilarating and unforgettable sequence of events with a rock and roll soundtrack as they begin their performance of Permission To Land.
One of the highlights was hearing the opening to ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ which sent the crowd into a frenzy. The band seem very well knit together as they feed each other their sounds with a smile, reassuring the audience that this is an environment of enjoyment and one to be happy in. Memorable events include Hawkins accepting a piggy back ride from a member of security around the entire audience while he played an extended guitar solo, and the frontman’s handstand in centre stage while he moved his legs from an upright to an open ‘v’ repeatedly for a good minute. Why you ask? Fuck knows, but it was awesome in a surreal sort of way that made these guys out to be the sort of performers worth seeing.
The show ended with another costume change as the band emerged for a final time in a more Christmassy attire for their ballad ‘Christmas Time’ which put a smile on everyone’s face, especially with Christmas around the corner. I was left feeling remarkably surprised by a band that I once had genuine distaste for which is an incredible feeling to be left with, and with that, I applaud The Darkness.
1/ Makin Out 2/ She Just a Girl, Eddie 3/ Is It Just Me 4/ The Horn 5/ Every Inch Of You 6/ Curse Of the Tollund Man 7/Street Spirit (Radiohead Cover) 8/ One Way Ticket -permission to land- 9/ Black Shuck 10/ Get Your Hands Off My Woman 11/ Growing On Me 12/ I Believe In A Thing Called Love 13/ Love Is Only A Feeling 14/ Given Up 15/ Stuck In A Rut 16/ “Crowd Sing Concrete” 17/ Friday Night 18/ “Crowd sing ‘Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us” 19/ Love On The Rocks with no Ice 20/ Holding My Own 21/ Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)