The Darkness, Ash, Do Me Bad Things

Rachel Cranshaw 11/12/2004

Everyone is in high spirits tonight as London's largest arena prepares for the 2nd of three nights by one of England's current most talked-about bands, The Darkness. Hordes of excited fans from all over the world are queuing outside, and it is quite astounding to think that just over a year and a half ago, The Darkness were a relatively unknown outfit playing in pubs.

The story now is of course quite different. The lights go down at 7:00 pm for Do Me Bad Things, who put on a fabulously appropriate show, with frontman Nicolai Prowse prancing around, competing with Justin Hawkins in terms of outrageousness, and actually outdoing him in number of costume changes. They begin with recent single Time For Deliverance, the only song most of the audience know, but still manage to pull of the rest of their set impressively.

Next up is Ash, who are clearly annoyed at being the support act for a band that have been famous for not nearly as long as them, and their performance shows this. After an average set, the only interesting part of which being a decent cover of Thin Lizzie's 'Boys Are Back In Town', Ash depart, leaving the audience hungry for the main attraction.

After an extremely drawn-out intro, The Darkness stride on stage and launch straight into new song Grief Hammer. The audience are a little unsure, but their faith is immediately restored when the band proceed by performing every track (bar the last one) from their No.1 acclaimed album, Permission To Land. There are lights, fireworks, guitar and costume changes aplenty, and Justin's crowd interaction is spot-on, talking between almost every song. They also play several other new songs such as Dinnerlady Arms, and Seemed Like A Good Idea, plus live favourite 'Makin' Out'.

A true comedy moment comes when Justin swaps his Les Paul for an 80's style keyboard-guitar, and noodles around for a while, giving the rest of the band a break. He begins to play the Band Aid 20 song which they featured on, and in true Justin style, does an amusingly accurate impression of U2's Bono on the 'Tonight thank God it's them instead of you' line they infamously fought over, with Bono winning!

The band eventually leave for a break, and come back on to screams of excitement and anticipation for the encore. Get Your Hands Off My Woman is gloriously loud, high, and rude, and the heat of the fire shooting out around the stage can be felt from yards back. Next is the real treat of the night: Justin's personal favourite Love On The Rocks With No Ice. They pound through the song, and during a very extended solo Justin mounts a life-size toy tiger suspended from the roof, and rides around the audience. For the final number, roadies dressed as Santa's come on with two huge Christmas trees for 'last year's Christmas number 2 single: Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)'. The Darkness build up to a breathtaking finish, with pyrotechnics that would make Guy Fawkes blush. They exit to cheers of an audience in no doubt that The Darkness can pull off any gig, whether it be a pub in Lowestoft or one of the biggest arenas in the country. 2005 looks as bright for The Darkness as the blinding fireworks going off as they leave.