Words & Pictures (C): Robert Sutton / Robert Sutton Photography
The Darkness started off their long awaited current tour of 22 dates around the UK in support of their new album ‘Motorheart’ ( their seventh studio album) at Brighton’s Dome Theatre on the 17th of November and it will conclude with two London shows on the 16th and 17th December at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire.
Support for the shows was supposed to be British Lion but they decided to pull out from the tour and were replaced by the much better fit of Massive Wagons.
With the very exuberant and hard working ‘Baz’ Mills leading the band, it comes as no surprise that the band managed to squeeze in seven of their songs into their short 30 minute set. From the very start of ‘In it Together’ from their latest album ‘House of Noise’ to their last song ‘Back to the Stack’ , a tribute song to Rick Parfitt of Status Quo taken from their last album ‘Full Nelson’, I don’t think Baz stayed in one place for longer than a few seconds…but all that running around did take its toll on him and he did have to take his jacket off after the first few tracks!!…
The band played as a tight set of musicians.. as they always seem to do… and a couple of sneaky smiles between the band members sort of gave the game away that they too were enjoying themselves as much as we were in the audience.
My favourite track for the night was ‘Bangin In You Stereo’..such a great track to sing along to…but the saddest part was that ‘Billy Ballon Head’ had been dropped from the set list!!..
Just for the record, the band comprises of: – Barry ‘Baz’ Mills (vocals), Adam Thistlethwaite (guitar), Stevie Holl (guitar), Adam Bouskill ( bass) and Alex Thistlethwaite (drums).
Objective: Be the opening act for The Darkness and get the crowd warmed up..Tick: nailed that one..What’s next?..
1: In It Together
2: China Plates
4: Bangin In Your Stereo
7: Back to the Stack
The early part of December 2019 was then I had last seen The Darkness play live and this was also at the Dome in Brighton. They had a great back drop of church windows and super array of stage lights and were playing as promotion for their new album ‘Easter Is Cancelled’. Fast forward nearly two years and the band are back at the Dome playing live as promotion for their new alum ‘Motorheart’ ..but where had the fancy stage back drop and lights gone? All we had was a plain silver cloth back drop and one horizontal row of super bright ‘landing’ lights..oh and one glitter ball at the very top of the stage. I can only surmise that the global pandemic had wiped out their stage set??!!..
With their entrance backing tape music still playing the band walked onto the stage at their allotted time of 9pm to be confronted by an eagerly awaiting crowd at the Dome , and whilst the event was not sold out the standing area at the front was pretty much full up.
They opened their set, of a super eighteen songs, with ‘Welcome Tae Glasgae’ from their new album, which isn’t actually released until two days after this event..
The next two songs are back to the good ol’ crowd pleasers of ‘One Way Ticket’ and ‘Growing on Me’ taken from their second and first albums.
By this time Justin had obviously warmed up and briefly left the stage to take his multi coloured ‘tie dyed’ shirt off and came back on stage bare chested to a few wolf whistles from the crowd. He was clearly still a bit too hot though and rolled his legs up of his red leather trousers to just above the knees….(all he needed now was his handkerchief with knots tied to each corner to put on his head and he would have been ready for his sunbed on Brighton beach!!..)
Anyway, back to the music and the band gave a good performance of a few of the new songs from the new album as well as the older crowd favorites. I say good, as I just felt that their performance wasn’t quite as good or as energetic as when I saw them last time..but I guess it does take time to get back into your stride when you have not been playing live for the last two years.
We had one more costume change for Justin during the main set , with him taking off the red trousers to be replaced with a green sparkly open fronted cat suit, with silver dangly strands around his ankles, down his back and also around his codpiece area..
‘Get Your Hands Off My Woman’ concluded their standard set and the band left the stage. I have say it was quite a time before they came back to the stage for their encore, with Justin this time wearing a glittery red cat suit. They played ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ and of course concluded the night with Justin wearing a Santa’s hat and singing ‘Christmas Time ( Don’t Let the bell’s End)’.
As always, it was a good performance from the band but for me just lacked a bit of that extra sparkle that they can give to make it a great performance.. or perhaps it was just me not being quite into the Christmas vibe when its only half way through November??!!
1: Welcome Tae Glasgae
2: One Way Ticket
3: Growing On Me
5: Open Fire
6: Sticky Situations
7: Givin’ Up
8: It’s Love, Jim
9: Black Shuck
9: Heart Explodes
10: Friday Night
11: Love Is Only a Feeling
12: The Power and the Glory of Love
13: Solid Gold
16: Get Your Hands Off My Woman
17: I Believe in a Thing Called Love
18: Christmas Time ( Don’t Let the Bells End)