Wednesday, December 08, 2004

I can't explain all the feelings that you're makin' me feel.

About 3.45 yesterday afternoon I was driving home from a trip to the dentist's and a visit to my mum and the phone rang. It was the blogfather and he was bearing glad tidings. He had two spare tickets to see The Darkness at the NEC that self-same evening. Thus it came to pass that I went with the blogfather, el Finchino and her friend and ex-collegue Simon to see the Lowestoft Legends rock the NEC Arena.

And quite a night it was too. For those of you thinking "pshaw, the Darkness are just a comedy pastiche of the music of my youth" then a. congratulations on using the word "pshaw" in your own internal monologues and b. they really aren't. They are a proper rock band, but with a genuine feel for comedy and an awareness of the preposturousness of "Rock." I reckon.

Having missed the first band of the evening, we arrived in time to see the fabulous Ash doing their support slot. They opened with the wonderful "Girl from Mars" which made me feel 18 again for a very brief moment (glad it was only a brief moment...) and rattled through a fine rocky setlist (with a healthy number of guitar changes between songs, three each for both guitarists if I'm not mistaken - an SG, an epiphoney type number and a telecaster for Charlotte and a flying V, a Les Paul and something I've forgotten for the fella who sings...). They also did a marvelous cover of the Boys are Back in Town, so extra marks there for playing to the crowd.

Marks lost all round for the bits between bands though - movie trailers and adverts for Orange on the big screens at a rock concert!?! Not very rock 'n' roll in spirit is it?

But marks gained for the sheer joyous nonsense mixed with really quite considerably impressive musicianship of the Darkness themselves. The pyrotechnics, the singing really high, and the blistering (and I do mean blistering) guitar playing had me waving my hands in the air like a crazy fellow. I laughed a gret deal too, not least of all when during Love on the Rocks Justin disappeared offstage just before the guitar solo only to appear playing it whilst sitting on the back of flying model snow tiger which did a leisurely tour round the audience. A special moment.

When they played I believe in a thing called love before the end of the pre-encore show, it could only mean one thing - the show would end with the Christmas song. And it did. Roadies dressed as Father Christmas came out and put trees on stage and the band belted it out to the accompaniment of big thingies firing glittery paper into the audience. They had made better use of the big screens immediately before that when they put up a huge banner with the bands logo with "The Darkness, livin' on the sledge" underneath it. Nice.

They played a couple of new songs, the best being "An English Country Garden" for which Justin enlisted the aid of a Keytar , which was nice. He also, at least three times, just sort of walked around playing blues licks on his gibson. I enjoyed that greatly.

The only downside (apart from the ads) to the perfomance were the slightly haughty dealings with the audience, particularly in the first half. Justin didn't seem to feel like the audience were loud enough, and resorted to some strong language in order to get the crowd screaming and waving their hands and such...but it warmed up second half and the crowd (and me) were left grinning with silly but fabulous rock music buzzing round their heads.

The Darkness. Long may they rock in an amusing fashion.