The Scarborough News: Review – The Darkness at The Spa


The last time I saw The Darkness, they were the absolute darlings of British music, triumphantly headlining the main stage at Leeds Festival in 2004 following the runaway success of first album ‘Permission to Land’.

Nine years later, they are playing in front of about 600 people on a Monday night in Scarborough, as they look at clawing back the affection of the record buying public that seemed to ditch them as easily as they built them up.

And it’s hard not to root for them. They must know that they are never going to return to those dizzying heights they enjoyed probably too early in their career, but here they are, plodding away to a fan base.

Their entrance is characteristically over the top, but lapped up by the eclectic crowd, many of whom are dressed like they are going for a night on the tiles with Tommy Lee.

The band also still look like a squad of renegade gymnasts, but boy can they play, especially axeman Dan Hawkins, the slightly older brother of frontman Justin.

The elder Hawkins is just a fantastic guitarist. Uncomplicated and unpretentious, his playing is what separates the group from being the parody act they are often perceived as, to being a quality rock band.

The other members, while all able musicians, indulge the jokey-image of the band perhaps too much. Swapping the bass for a cowbell might get a laugh, but it’s not doing them any favours.

‘Permission to Land’ dominates the setlist, and single Growing on Me dropped early on, along with another crowd pleaser, Black Shuck.

Monster crossover hit ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ gets the biggest pop of the night by far.

The older stuff is met with indifference, but the classics are just great to hear. They are fun, deafening songs that can’t fail to put a smile on your face.

The band themselves had reportedly told a crowd earlier in the week they were playing their final show, and they still don’t appear to be fully back in love with each other.

There’s a nervous tension throughout the set, especially between Justin Hawkins and drummer Ed Graham, but that’s what rock n’ roll bands should be like.

But the only real lowlight of the evening was the attendance.

You could say rock-starved Scarborough gig goers should turn out when bands visit town. You could also say more it just shows how much The Darkness’ star has faded.

But regardless, the performance and the band deserved a much, much bigger crowd.

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