Catsuit-clad comeback
The Darkness - Live at the O2 Academy, Sheffield

In the last ten years there hasn't been such a rise and fall of an empire as The Darkness’ journey into rock and roll. Built into a caricature glam rock troupe, the band went from headlining Leeds Festival to depression and rehab within a couple of years.

Now they're remembered as a distant memory, a bizarre dream with spandex and a lot of catsuits.
Something which is forgotten (bar the bands seminal Christmas single 'Don't Let The Bells End') is the group's dynamic, raw energy that saw them shoot into every journalists lap in 2003; The ZZ Top guitars, over the top riffs and huge falsetto vocals. Lyrics so ridiculous men aimed to learn them as fast as possible to show off to their mates. Somehow that Darkness magic has been forgotten over the years. That is until the spandex reappears.

Tonight is awash with Darkness t-shirts, old rockers and fans who thought the band simply didn’t have enough time in the limelight. It’s the first tour as the band reunites with all the original members (there were a few walkouts post debut) and the group's prima donna attitude is still intact. After all, The Darkness were a band forced from the limelight too soon and tonight’s show only cements that.

Now dressed as a spandex Jack Sparrow, Justin Hawkins charges onstage, guitar in hand, to deliver the arena show they were robbed of. Lights jitter, pyrotechnics flare and the band burst offstage, bringing that electric live show back to its humble beginnings.

‘Get Your Hands Off My Woman’ reeks of guitar sleaze and high pitched warbles while the chants in ‘Black Shuck’ echo through the audience, keen to join in a hand clap after a whiff of a drum beat. Of course, like the Darkness’ rise to fame, there are a few bumps in the road tonight signified by the difficult second album ‘Road to Hell and Back’. At times, as both brothers stand rocking in rhythm, there’s an obvious Status Quo link- the only relief given by ‘One Way Ticket’ which harks back to ‘Permission to Land’.

As Justin changes into another pink flared catsuit, jumping into his signature splits, snow begins to fall and the Christmas choir of ‘Don’t Let The Bells End’ shines through. The Darkness may have been discarded as a joke in their time but tonight shows a band should not always be remembered for their downfalls. There may have been fall outs, rehab and a hash of a second album, but maybe it’s time we brought them back to the centre stage.

Words by Ruth Offord

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