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Review: The Darkness are the homecoming heroes at Norwich UEA

PUBLISHED: 08:44 04 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:37 04 December 2017

The Hawkins brothers at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield

The Hawkins brothers at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield

Paul John Bayfield

With amps cranked up to 11 and the swagger of homecoming heroes, The Darkness delivered a gleeful package of party rock to their adoring faithful at Norwich’s UEA.

The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield

Grinning frontman Justin Hawkins was clearly in the mood for a knees-up, prancing and gyrating his way through a hugely enjoyable two-hour show, and even dusting off the band’s Christmas hit Don’t Let the Bells End to officially launch Norfolk’s festive season.

“It’s good to be back in the East,” he purred – and there were plenty more reasons to celebrate.

After another successful European tour and the release of their fifth album Pinewood Smile the band, formed in Lowestoft in 2000, has added longevity to their popularity.

No-one in the UEA LCR will need telling why.

The Darkness get the crowd jumping at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield The Darkness get the crowd jumping at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield

In the words of their eloquent entertainer, they were treated to the “crème de la five albums of Darkness material”, with the crowd bouncing to highlights including Friday Night, One Way Ticket To Hell And Back, Barbarian, and the obvious encore of I Believe In A Thing Called Love.

New songs like Solid Gold followed the same formula, with Dan Hawkins’ shuddering guitar riffs pierced by his brother’s shrill falsetto melodies – and a playful sense of the ridiculous never too far away.

Instant crowd-pleasers included a potty-mouthed rant about rail congestion which I can’t imagine will have gone down too well in the PR department of Southern Trains.

On other topics, Justin’s eagerness to chat with his home-turf crowd prompted a colourful re-imagining of the local legend of Black Shuck, and he also stopped mid-song to invite the audience to enjoy the “The Darkness plectrum challenge” – a lengthy interlude spent trying to hit the LCR’s glitter ball with a guitar pick.

Dan Hawkins of The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield Dan Hawkins of The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield

Towards the end of the night, the jump-suited singer pulled off the remarkable stunt of clapping his feet while performing a headstand in front of Rufus Tiger Taylor’s drum kit.

It’s part of their enduring charm that The Darkness have embraced such daftness.

In a world of so much auto-tuned programmed pop and tepid soul-searching balladry, the good-time rock-and-roll band is a dying breed. And we need it more than ever in these downcast days of Brexit, Trump and Ashes batting collapses.

So it is encouraging to know these self-appointed rock gods of East Anglia remain as a bastion of the kind of stomping riff-fuelled racket that doesn’t try too hard to be worthy or cool. It is just relentless fun – which is surely what rock music is supposed to be for.

Rufus Taylor & Justin Hawkins of The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield Rufus Taylor & Justin Hawkins of The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield

Justin Hawkins of The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield Justin Hawkins of The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield

The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield

Frankie Poullain of The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield Frankie Poullain of The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield

The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield

Justin Hawkins of The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield Justin Hawkins of The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield

Dan Hawkins of The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield Dan Hawkins of The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield

Justin Hawkins of The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield Justin Hawkins of The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield

The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield

Justin of The Darkness give away guitar picks  at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield Justin of The Darkness give away guitar picks at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield

Justin Hawkins of The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield Justin Hawkins of The Darkness at the UEA on Sunday night in Norwich - Paul John Bayfield

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