Christmas time…. with The Darkness and Bad Nerves, The Roundhouse, London, December 22 2023

Confetti cannons , sparklers, flames and more added to the spectacle and it's that element that younger bands would do well to take note of.

Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall / (C) MindHex Media

In what has become a welcome tradition alongside bands like Sweet, Status Quo, Thunder and more, December sees a great collection of artists performing end of tour Christmas shows. It’s the perfect end to a year filled with great music and sitting right at the top of the pile is The Darkness. They already have one of those timeless Christmas songs that can now be heard alongside Slade, Wizzard, Shakin’ Stevens, Greg Lake, Mud, Wham, Mariah Carey and Frankie Goes to Hollywood throughout high street stores from late November all the way through the January sales. Of course, with The Darkness their not-so-subtle success in getting (almost) ‘bell-end’ into a song title for Christmas makes the 12-year old in us chuckle whenever we hear it but of course, that’s what makes the the band so quintessentially British. Their sense of humour is rooted in our smutty ‘seaside postcard’ approach and the longer the band continues, the greater the love for the band from the British people.

Such is the love, by the end of the tour, celebrating the band’s 20th Anniversary of their debut album ‘Permission to Land’, The Darkness have already played and sold out The Roundhouse in Camden. Heck, they even pulled Ed Sheeran on stage as a special guest at that show. Less than two weeks later, they’ve done it all over again. A second (spoiler: Sheeran free) sold-out show in Camden promised fun and frolics and some high energy indie / punk rock to kick-start the evening from Essex’s finest, Bad Nerves. 

Bad Nerves

Opening act Bad Nerves have now supported some of the best acts out there and are rapidly becoming regulars at The Roundhouse. I’ve seen the band open for Creeper, Salem and now The Darkness. Their punk fueled music is as comfortable supporting the Gothic noir of Creeper as it is playing alongside operatic rockers The Darkness. They bring a sense of energy to every show I’ve seen them perform and opening for The Darkness was no different with a welcoming audience happy to get involved in the set from the off.

Don’t Stop, Baby Drummer, Palace and Terminal Boy got the ball rolling before Radio Punk and Electric 88 led into promising new single USA. If The Struts are anything to go by, then tapping into the US market will do you no harm whatsoever and credit to the Essex lads who are taking the adulation and plaudits in their stride. I see only positives for them going forward and the one thing that will be next will be bigger and better headline shows of their own. 

They closed with the final track of their debut LP and, as an album that gets regular plays at home, having bought it immediately after seeing them for the first time, they did what every band in a support slot should do… leave us wanting more. 

  • 2023 12 22, Bad Nerves, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22, Bad Nerves, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22, Bad Nerves, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22, Bad Nerves, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22, Bad Nerves, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22, Bad Nerves, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22, Bad Nerves, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22, Bad Nerves, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London

The Darkness

The Darkness, our homegrown glam rock success story have recently released a movie \ documentary highlighting their meteoric rise to fame in the early 2000s on the back of their energised shows, monumental songs and the personality of front man Justin Hawkins who remains to this day, larger than life. The film details (like Reggie Perrin) their fall from grace, split and reunion which has seen The Darkness bounce back, rising like a phoenix from the ashes and… to steal from one of their songs, seen them “shitting out solid gold” ever since.

I have seen the band (in various incarnations) more times than I can recall. From the early days seeing them supporting Def Leppard through triumphant arena shows where Justin would ride a giant white tiger over the stage to small intimate shows at Dingwalls in London when they reformed once again. I’ve interviewed them, photographed them, and sung, danced and sweated through hours of shows ever since without once losing my enthusiasm for their music. 

The Darkness remain the perfect late night antidote to all that ails us and for this, their final show of the current world tour that continues down under in 2024, Justin still stops the show from time to time to ‘have a chat’ with the crowd covering everything from sexual orientation, gender acceptance and more to something as simple as “put your phones away and enjoy the show” as a sea of screens appear in the crowd every time a new track commences. 

As Justin decrees that people should be comfortable being whatever they want to be, leaving him with a smorgasbord of future sexual conquest opportunities, the band storm through a set list that could have been longer and still filled to the brim with hits and choice numbers from their ‘now’ extensive back catalogue. However this was all about PTL and its 20th Anniversary so a tighter \ shorter set also saw snippets of band favourites thrown in to the mix alongside songs like Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit’ which under Justin’s vocal styling took on a whole new lease of life. 

Brother Dan Hawkins on rhythm guitar, bassist Frankie Poullain and Rufus Tiger Taylor on drums remain the beating heart of the band and allowed Justin to, well, be Justin for the duration of the show. Get Your Hands Off My Woman saw him do his signature handstand and whilst the David Lee Roth like star jumps from the drum riser are less frequent these days, Justin Hawkins did a fine job in getting some serious air time over the course of the show. 

Confetti cannons , sparklers, flames and more added to the spectacle and it’s that element that younger bands would do well to take note of. One of the reasons The Darkness have ensured the highs (sniff) and lows over the years is that they bring “The Show” to the stage. It’s all well and good having great tunes but the show and the showmanship add a whole other dimension to a performance and that’s why I’ve followed this band for 20+ years as well.

Friday Night proved to be the ultimate in audience participation and like ‘Hey Jude’ with its ‘Na Nah’s, Friday Night can go on as long as the audience are willing to keep singing back to the band. Following that is tough but of course, Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End) [pfft… bell end!] complete with the Mark De-Lisser choir, guaranteed the continued good vibes as did mega hit single I Believe in a Thing Called Love with the choir adding another layer to that as well.

The encore saw them perform I Love You 5 Times, with Dan Hawkins now on the drums, Taylor on bass and Poullain on acoustic guitar. They finished with my personal favourite and the track that convinced my parents to appreciate the band, Love on the Rocks with No Ice.

When the band maintains the same energy they had in the early days, it’s easy for me as a fan, to do the same. As such, it’s no surprise the UK tour had completely sold out and the fan-base continues to lap up everything they do. We know what we are getting for our money and it’s worth every cent.

The Aussies will have a blast in January. 

  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
  • 2023 12 22 The Darkness, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London

SETLIST: 

Black Shuck
Get Your Hands Off My Woman
Growing on Me
The Best of Me
Makin’ Out
Givin’ Up
Love Is Only a Feeling
Stuck in a Rut
How Dare You Call This Love?
Street Spirit (Fade Out) (Radiohead cover)
Holding My Own
Friday Night
Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End) (with Mark De-Lisser choir)
Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin cover)
I Believe in a Thing Called Love (with Mark De-Lisser choir)
Encore:
In the Air Tonight (Phil Collins cover)
I Love You 5 Times (with Mark De-Lisser choir; preceded by “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” tease)
With or Without You (U2 cover) (impromptu)
One Vision (Queen cover) (impromptu)
Love on the Rocks With No Ice (with “Heartbreaker” riff)

About Author

 
Categories
Live GigNewsPhotos
HEILUNG’S LIVE SPECTACLE AT THE RIVERSIDE THEATER IN MILWAUKEE, WI ON SAT, APRIL 20TH, 2024: AN IMMERSIVE JOURNEY OF SOUND, STORY, AND SPIRIT
HEILUNG’S LIVE SPECTACLE AT THE RIVERSIDE THEATER IN MILWAUKEE, WI ON SAT, APRIL 20TH, 2024: AN IMMERSIVE JOURNEY OF SOUND, STORY, AND SPIRIT

HEILUNG’S LIVE SPECTACLE AT THE RIVERSIDE THEATER IN MILWAUKEE, WI ON SAT, APRIL 20TH, 2024: AN IMMERSIVE JOURNEY OF SOUND, STORY, AND SPIRIT

Photo Credit: Chris Rugowski

Evergrey - Falling From The Sun

Stone Broken – live at the Booking Hall, Dover, July 20 2024

An Adrenalizing Journey to Nashille – Def Leppard, Journey and The Steve Miller Band live July 20 2024

Margate Loves Us – The Beautiful Ones, Suede and Manic Street Preachers – Dreamland Summer Series, July 19 2024

Tres Hombres And A 17 String Bass – ZZ Top Got London Under Pressure – Wembley 11 July 2024

RELATED BY

G-TQ58R0YWZE