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The Darkness – live at The Cliffs Pavilion, Southend, with Blackfoot Gypsies, December 2017

Words and Pictures of Justin’s Bum: Kalli Isborne

Well, this is a novelty, living in south Essex I usually have to travel into London for any decent rock gigs, and so, for a band of the calibre of The Darkness to be playing a venue 10 minutes from home, it would have been rude not to go. A quick look around upon arrival, it seems I was not the only person who thought it would be rude not to see the boys from Lowestoft, although some may have only been there for the novelty value, there were definitely some hardcore Darkness fans already lining up at the barrier.

Blackfoot Gypsies

However, before the boys graced The Cliffs stage was the matter of the support act. Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, USA, the Blackfoot Gypsies were bringing their own kind of rock and roll to the Thames Estuary. With bands such as Led Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones listed as influences, it is clear from the moment these guys come onto the stage that these influences stretch to more than just music. More than once during their set I wondered if I had been transported back in time to an episode of The Old Grey Whistle Test. It was all, well, very sixties! Time travel aside, Blackfoot Gypsies were a pleasure to listen to and even included a harmonica solo, its not often we get one of those.

The Darkness

After a short interval, it was time for the headliners to shine, and with Justin’s green sequin catsuit, shine he most certainly did. Opening with Open Fire, the band started the gig as it was to continue, high tempo’d and full of energy. Having recently released their new album Pinewood Smile, this tour was the ideal opportunity to get some of their new material out to the live crowd. The first song from the new album was the third song of the gig, and it turned into a bit of an anthem, Southern Trains, a song about the joys of using the rail network in the UK. Classic’s Black Shuck and One way (to hell and back) had the crowd dancing and singing along, even the audience members that looked like they had tickets for another, more sedate show at The Cliffs and had got the wrong night, were bopping along merrily. The setlist was a good mix of songs from all their albums, and with the Hawkins lads bouncing across the stage, and finding out that both were conceived in Essex so this felt like a home coming gig of sorts, there was hardly time to catch your breath in between sing-a-longs and dancing. The 15 song set was a greatest hits showcase, Friday Night, Solid Gold, Get Your Hands off My Woman (with the loudest ‘Muther Fucker’ Southend could muster echoing around The Cliffs) before Growing On Me rounded off the main set. But where oh where was THE The Darkness song? In the encore of course.

Coming back on to the stage to the opening strains of Japanese Prisoner of Love, the fans that knew the song from new album took great pleasure in educating the rest on the chorus, but luckily the all the other Jailbirds didn’t cry when they were singing along.

With it being December it would be rude not to have probably the best Christmas song ever (IMO), and so another singalong ensued, but with everybody taking part, and the bells did not end.

And so, for the final song of the evening, and if you hadn’t guessed by now where have you been for the past 14 years, I believe in a thing called Love, with the majority of the audiences vocal chords lubricated and warmed up enough for most to attempt to out high Justin Hawkins on the high notes…. they failed miserably.

This was possibly the best gig I had been to all year, if not one of the best. The energy produced from the band, the well balanced setlist that was suitable for die hard members of The Darkness Army to the locals that had wandered in from the cold out of curiosity and the atmosphere at The Cliffs Pavilion. I do hope The Darkness are back to stay for a good while at least.

SETLIST

  1. Open Fire,
  2. Love Is Only a Feeling,
  3. Southern Trains,
  4. Black Shuck,
  5. One Way Ticket,
  6. Givin’ Up,
  7. All the Pretty Girls,
  8. Barbarian,
  9. Friday Night,
  10. Makin’ Out,
  11. Every Inch of You,
  12. Solid Gold,
  13. Stuck in a Rut,
  14. Get Your Hands Off My Woman,
  15. Growing on Me,

Encore:

  1. Japanese Prisoner of Love,
  2. Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End),
  3. I Believe in a Thing Called Love,

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