The Darkness

Yarmouth Marina Centre

It was a glittering occasion. And that was only the lighting rig picking up the sparkling, form-fitting T-shirt of singer Justin Hawkins. It bore the legend 'Lowestoft Suffolk' in sparkly letters, but, unlike brother Dan's which said Thin Lizzy, it only stayed on for a few bars.

Sparkling and form are two words to describe the Darkness, the Lowestoft band who have had quite a year of it.

Their debut album, Permission to Land, has sold in absolute truckloads, their shaggy retro rock legend hairdos and matching outfits – lead man Justin's often split to the waist –gracing many a rock, pop and newspaper's front pages.

Now this musical whirlwind, after a 2003 of live dates and chart success, has come to rest (just for one night) at the Yarmouth Marina Centre just over the border from where it all began.


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It's a chance to say thanks to family, friends and prizewinners with this homecoming gig.

By re-treading the successful path taken by Seventies rockers AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and the like, the Darkness have successfully turned their glittering backs on today's indie music and decided it is time put some old-fashioned fun back into rock music.

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This is a hard act to pull off with any degree of success. But they achieve it by dint of pure bravado, musical nous and a belief in what they're doing without a single sliver of cynicism.

Opening with a crunching 12-bar, it was hard to discern much save for a thump in the chest coming from the bass drum via the PA system.

Things cleared slightly for Black Shuck, the opening track on the album and a song every member of the 700-strong crowd seemed to be familiar with judging by the mass response.

Sadly, though, throughout their set volume was utilised at the expense of clarity, a shame when you consider the mighty combination of the brothers' harmonising guitar licks and Justin's swooping falsetto.

As ever, the band's backbone, drummer Ed Graham and bass player Frankie Poullain, seemed content to let the brothers shimmer in the limelight.

At one point Justin recognised an old school teacher in the audience: 'Hey, Mr Spencer, have a boogie,' said Justin. And Mr Spencer did just that as the Darkness kicked off the opening bars of The Best of Me.

On home turf, the Darkness were clearly having fun and the audience shared in it. Prizewinner from Wymondham, Sue Graham and her daughter Amber were delighted with the band's performance. 'We've followed them from the beginning, but this is the first time we've seen them live. They're really fantastic,' said Sue.

The audience may have gone home with ears ringing, but they had seen a seriously good rock band - one that doesn't mind having fun.

Like rock and roll with a cherry on top.

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