Written by Rowan Howard
Photography by Oliver Hilton
2nd December 2019
The start to the holiday season could not have kicked off better than noughties legends The Darkness rocking the stage at the O2 Academy Leicester. A smaller venue than anticipated, it slowly but surely started to fill with eager fans, revealing the potential for an intimate and pulsating show.
Supporting act Rews, a three-piece alternative rock band described as the ‘alter-ego’ of Northern Irish lead vocalist Shauna Tohill, warmed up the stage with tracks from their debut album Pyro. For a band with few members in a venue with limited capacity, the energy in the space was still rocket-high when they performed. Tohill’s vocals were a mellifluous addition to the band’s zestful and vigorous sound, along with their incredible energy on stage. Their style was resonant to that of Halestorm, whom they supported on their UK tour last year. They are certainly an up and coming and kickass trio that you’ll want to look out for!
The Darkness’ winter UK tour is in support of their latest album, Easter is Cancelled, which was released in October.
The band began their set with the album’s opening track Rock and Roll Deserves to Die. Dan Hawkins and Frankie Poullain appeared to an impatient audience to play the acoustic intro to the song before drummer Rufus Taylor appeared and vocalist Justin Hawkins ran onto the stage to scream ‘DIE!’ into the microphone, igniting the crowd.
From there, the energy was perpetually ongoing. The band announced they would be playing the album in full, then saying ‘We’ll go from there’, meaning, of course, the classics from Permission to Land and a certain anthemic Christmas song. ‘Tis the season and all.
The band’s connection with each other on stage and with the audience was solid and welcoming. It was like you were given exclusive access to a comedy club show as part of your ticket. Justin was always eager to speak to the crowd, dedicating time after several songs to share banter and launch multiple plectrums into the audience.
His soothing Surrey accent was honestly just a delight to hear, despite him taking the mick when some members of the audience requested songs. ‘I just want to make it clear; this is not a request show. You’re listening to the whole of Easter is Cancelled’ he exclaimed to a boisterous audience.
We chuckled knowing all too well they may eventually give in and play the classics, although I personally was gutted that they didn’t play Open Fire. Justin’s vocals remained untouched and flawless, which was especially evident during his solo acoustic performance of We Are the Guitar Men. Before he had a chance to begin, however, a member of the audience bellowed: ‘Do you know Wonderwall?’, which of course summoned a wave of laughter and he responded by willingly attempting to play Wonderwall and asking the audience if anyone knew the right chords.
The time came however, and the fiery foursome played their massive hit I Believe in a Thing Called Love, with Justin insisting that for this song the crowd put away their phones and just enjoy the moment, to which we happily obliged.
The swarm of people below the stage suddenly turned into an assemblage of happy, bouncing like we were five-foot toddlers. Strangers were throwing their arms around each other and drinks were flying. The band fed on the vivacity.
Then, of course, to finish off their joyous set, they performed arguably one of the greatest Christmas songs: Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End). A truly sublime treat to start off December!
It has certainly commenced my Christmas spirit and I wait endearingly until I catch the opportunity to see them again!
The Darkness continue their UK tour until 20th December.