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Chris Hill & Victoria Leggett
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
It was the comeback gig which fans of The Darkness had craved for five long years. But the Lowestoft rockers’ much-publicised split in 2006 seemed a distant memory as soon as the first crunching chords of Black Shuck rang out across a claustrophobic Waterfront.
A new-look Justin Hawkins, who has ditched his dodgy 70s catsuit in favour of an equally dodgy 70s moustache, strutted into a hero’s welcome in his East Anglian homeland.
“We’ve got some bigger gigs coming up, but that’s not to say they’re better,” declared the grinning frontman. “This is the main event.”
But such shameless rabble-rousing was hardly necessary for such a welcoming crowd which, apparently, included the singer’s mum and several Pakefield schoolmates.
In the first of three warm-up gigs before returning to the festival circuit later this month, the band delivered a pounding set featuring old favourites like Growing On Me and I Believe In A Thing Called Love from their breakthough 2003 Permission to Land album. But the partisan Sunday night crowd also provided a good place to test material from a promised new album. True to his coastal roots, Justin agreed to consider “Sea Bream” as a possible title for the work-in-progress.
And the new songs maintained the same winning formula which shot the band to fame – almighty rock anthems delivered with a sublime sense of fun.
The Hawkins brothers’ polished riffs and falsetto caterwauling seemed to have regained their former fettle – as has Justin’s unerring ability to balance the credibility of his genre with a faint sense of the ludicrous. Friday Night was one such tongue-in-cheek tune delivered with fine rock and roll precision despite its knowingly ridiculous lyricism.
And the audience lapped it up.
Welcome back lads, and welcome home.