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Review: The Darkness, Newcastle City Hall

JUSTIN Hawkins and company have played the City Hall before.

Justin Hawkins, frontman of The Darkness
Justin Hawkins, frontman of The Darkness

JUSTIN Hawkins and company have played the City Hall before.

Infamously their set in support of Def Leppard, almost a decade ago, went down like a lead balloon in front of a somewhat cynical crowd.

The consensus back then was that The Darkness were hyped-up clones reliant on style over substance.

In reality it’s the songwriting that has set this band apart from less talented peers. And stripped of the preposterous props, intrusive light show, impersonal arena stage and pressure to sell millions of records, The Darkness are in a position to prove the point.

Two guitars and that falsetto voice do the job. Throw in a rhythm section tighter than Justin Hawkins’ tattooed torso (bass player Frankie Poulain’s grandfather is a former chairman of Hartlepool United and he always relishes a North East gig) and it’s game on.

The fact remains that The Darkness haven’t yet produced a record as vibrant as 2003’s Permission To Land and the best songs from that breakthrough served up the highlights after local lad Ginger Wildheart had done everything in his power to warm Geordie hearts ahead of the main event.

Justin Hawkins still screams confidence and class, belting out staples I Believe In A Thing Called Love, Black Shuck and Get Your Hands Off My Woman and the next challenge facing the reformed line-up is matching their dazzling debut.

Current album Hot Cakes at least hints at a timely return.

However, it’s not all about the music. A committed devotee of the dying art of audience interaction, Justin Hawkins’ banter is often priceless and always worth hearing.

Far from filling in those awkward mid-set pauses, his cheeky chat complements an overall package.

Simon Rushworth

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