With their blues style rock ’n’ roll, Scottish brothers The River 68’s would be one of the last support acts you’d expect for flamboyant glam rock kings, The Darkness. Their acoustic, feel-good songs may seem somewhat out of place preceding the energy and action packed show from the main act but it works in its own unique way. Vocalist Craig McCabe’s range is similar to that of The Darkness’ own frontman Justin Hawkins and that, combined with the harmonica and guitar, seems to send waves of positivity through the crowd, still filtering in slowly throughout their set.
As the main lights dim and all the spotlights focus on The Darkness’ huge backdrop, all sense of calm and relaxation disappears into an explosion of excitement and energy. [Justin] Hawkins swaggers onto the stage to the opening of ‘Barbarian’, the first track of their new album, wearing his usual outlandish striped suit, open half way down his chest and the trousers rolled up his calves showing his bare feet. The band flow effortlessly through ‘Growing On Me’ and ‘Black Shuck’, Hawkins being every bit the star performer, managing to lose his shirt as he switches between galloping around the stage and being handed guitars to do solos.
It is clear the band have developed a dedicated following in the years that followed their claim to fame Permission To Land, the banter between band and audience is like that between old friends, spouting anecdotes like “It’s great to be able to interact with you idiots every night. I’m joking, I love you all”. There are families with young children, all sporting the same expressions of joy and passion for the music, especially fan favourites ‘Love is Only A Feeling’ and ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’.
If they have proved one thing with this tour, it’s that The Darkness are so much more than just a flash in the pan. They are true performers, dedicated to their fans and their jobs as artists, showing they have grown in so many ways since their height of fame.