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The Darkness

De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill - 15th December, 2015

Written By Andy Gunton

Permission to Rock?

For the second time in almost as many months, Rock music afficionados were given the opportunity to dust off their air guitars when The Darkness landed at the De La Warr Pavilion, in Bexhill, on Tuesday evening.

The fact that this was appreciated by those Rock music fans was evident by the presence of a near sell out crowd, all of whom seemed ready to make the most of the chance to see the multi Brit Award winning band.

The Darkness certainly didn’t hold back, bringing an impressive light show with them, and playing all of their most well known songs, including many from ‘Permission to Land”, the 2003 debut album which put them firmly on the Rock music map.

They hit the stage with ‘Barbarian’, the opening track from their most recent album, ‘Last of Our Kind’, and followed that with the classic hit single, ‘Growing on Me’.

From the outset it was obvious that this was definitely the Justin Hawkins show. He, literally, took centre stage, conducting and commanding the whole show. Try as they might, the other band members didn’t really get much of a look in. 

For me, at least, this was very much a double edged sword. While there is no doubt that Justin Hawkins is a great front man, and is certainly a showman too, he spent far too much time messing about, instead of actually playing and singing.

Several minutes were ‘wasted’ while he idly tossed multiple plectrums into the air, trying to get one into a hole in the ceiling (he didn’t). The inter song banter often drifted into a kind of comedy routine, and it all seemed to get a bit Cabaret/Panto at times.

Some songs even stopped part way through, for no apparent reason, before starting again and going into an elongated ending.

This made the whole show a bit of a stop/start affair, meaning that it tended to lose momentum, having to almost start again with every new song played.

This is a real pity, for when The Darkness get down to business they can Rock with the best of them, as they proved on the night. They are fine musicians, with some great songs.

Having said all that, the rest of the audience didn’t seem to mind these distractions. They happily sang along to the memorable chorus of ‘Get Your Hands off My Woman’, and greeted the final song of the main set, ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’, with expected enthusiasm, after first being teased with the opening chord.

The inevitable encore was preceded by a blow up snowman and Father Christmas appearing above the bands amps, this heralded a seasonal rendition of ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)’, a number two hit single no less. 

There was just time for a surprise cover of Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit’, before ‘Love on The Rocks’ finished off the night, but not before Justin Hawkins was taken around the auditorium on someone’s shoulders, while still playing his guitar. A rather fitting end to the night maybe?

Given the time of year, maybe the Pantomime aspect of the show was relevant after all? 

Oh yes it was.....

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