Live Review: The Darkness – O2 Academy, Birmingham 14.12.2021 plus gallery

After Massive Wagons rock the stage, time passes quickly and though it’s a shame to see that the venue isn’t at capacity, The Darkness’s cult audience sure know how to make it feel like it is. The lights dim and we’re given the very unique experience of bagpipes to start the show meaning only one thing; ‘Welcome Tae Glasgow’ is up first. Justin Hawkins’ immediately shows us how easy he can switch to those higher notes he’s so well known for. We’re given ‘One Way Ticket’ surprisingly early in the set but it’s the first of many surprises and we’re certainly not complaining.

It’s not long before Justin is in his usual attire of a leotard that leaves little to the imagination but tonight, it’s gold. His hip gyrating causes everyone (and I mean everyone) to scream like a girl, every time, without fail and you can see that he’s loving it. ‘Givin Up’ is prefaced but Justin letting us know that “this is Dan’s favourite song to play out of all the songs in the whole world” and he certainly plays like it is. The whole set list is like a ‘Great Hits’ from The Darkness as we’re treated to forgotten classics like ‘Love is Only a Feeling’ and whilst ‘Heart Explodes’ is a standout song of the evening, ‘Friday Night’ is arguably the loudest so far; even the bar staff are dancing to this one.

‘Get Your Fucking Hands Off Of My Woman, Asshole’ (Justin’s rebranding of the song, not mine) divides the room before it even begins as Justin mentions the children in the room. We’re given a very short monologue about how swearing can be useful when used correctly and how Justin’s 8 year old daughter referred to the current climate as “that fucking shit Corona” but the idea of no swearing just ‘Get Your Hands Off Of My Woman’ gets a massive boo from this rowdy bunch of gig goers. They are after some good old fashioned glam rock and that’s what they’re going to get. Justin gives us a chef kiss at the audience participation and then we all get what we’re waiting for. Not a phone can be seen during ‘A Thing Called Love’ as per the front mans request and there is so much dancing; everyone is living their best life and it’s an absolute pleasure to watch.

After ending on their number 1 hit, it’s hard to see where this encore is going to go. There’s an anticipation in the air that, as this is a December gig, they have to do ‘Don’t Let The Bells End’ but we’re just not sure. It feels like we’re waiting a life time for Justin & co to come back on stage but when they do, it’s certainly worth it as they re-enter the stage in full Christmas mode and all your favs are there, Christmas lobster included (great Love Actually reference for us there). At this point, we’re unexpectedly given not one but a trio Christmas songs. A small snippet of the Cliff Richard class ‘Christmas Time’ before going into arguably the best Christmas song of all time, ‘Last Christmas’ by Wham!. As the crowd are still getting over this awesome cover, we’re thrown straight into ‘Don’t Let The Bells End’ and it’s everything we thought it would be; the perfect end to this mid December show.

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