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Wembley Arena 11 December 2004

So the Darkness are now selling out three nights at Wembley Arena, not bad for a band I first saw back in Feb 2003 supporting Def Leppard! The audience is a mixture of ages, parents with kids, birthday party outings and plenty of Darkness T-shirt wearing teenagers. You either love or hate this band but at least they are getting the young `uns into rock (the video screens were playing lots of 80's rock classics in between sets and the loudest roars of approval came for the Van Halen `Jump' and Queen' Hammer To Fall').

First up was a nine-piece band Do Me Bad Things. They alternated between two vocalists - one with high notes and the other could grace a death metal band. Fairly generic rock and nothing special to be honest.

Ash were special guests and they played a storing set featuring `Kung Fu', `Burn Baby Burn', their new single (Renegade Cavalcade) and for those lighter moments `Shining Light'. Tim Wheeler is a very energetic frontman plus a fan of the Flying V guitar and the band played a very tight set. They even played the Thin Lizzy classic `The Boys Are Back In Town' and dedicated to former Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson who was in the audience.

The Darkness took to the stage in a series of flash bombs and as you'd expect it was a nigh of OTT rock. All the hits were here like `Growing On Me' and `I Believe In A Thing Called Love' plus the debut album favourates like `Black Shuck' and `Friday Night'.

The crowd were lapping it up and Justin Hawkins has come on leaps and bounds at working the audience although sometimes his on stage banter went off at tangents (at one stage he was playing Jim Diamond tune son his keyboard and rambling on about the 80's TV series `Boon'!). Plenty of new songs on show including the next possible single, `Country Garden' that rocks big time and `Juliet', a tune that sounds like Boston jamming with Foreigner.

Not overly impressed by the other new songs though. The band play a tight set with bass player Frankie Poullan now sporting an enormous afro styled hairdo - it looks like a badger has died on his head.

Encore time saw Justin Hawkins astride a white tiger, which was propelled around the edge of the stage and yet more fireworks and smoke bombs. `Get Your Hands Of My Woman' was swiftly followed by a brief snippet of Band Aid's `Feed The World', complete with Bono impression by Justin Hawkins and then the finale of their Xmas hit if last year, `Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)'.

The Darkness show no signs of losing their appeal just yet but that second album I fell will be their make or break. As a live act they get better each time, although it's a bit like Van Halen and Dave Lee Roth in that Justin Hawkins has all the limelight, whilst the band are fairly anonymous playing away behind him.

Review: Jason Ritchie

Alternative View

Manchester Evening News Arena, 2 December 2004

The Darkness absolutely rocked the place. They had such stage presence. Justin is an amazing entertainer as well as having an incredible voice. Anyone who loves wild, lively rock concerts I'd recommend it. (Josie Tetler)

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