THE DARKNESS @Stone Free, O2 Arena 18/6/16


The brothers Hawkins fail to impress on the big stage

In recent years rock has developed a worrying trend. Any time one of “our” bands crosses over to “their” territory and goes mainstream, they face the backlash of nonsense from those that aren’t as successful – or generally as driven or talented.

It happened to The Darkness, and we’ve always liked The Darkness at MVM. Check out where their Birmingham gig last Christmas ended in our gigs of the year list for proof.

Tonight, though it seems a different band that greets us – and their performance gives fuel to the naysayers. Justin Hawkins appears grumpy. His antics – the handstands on the drum riser, the strutting, the pouting, the banter, seem forced and the performance is nowhere near that of six months back.

The hits are all here, and they sound great – simply put The Darkness have great songs. “Growing On Me”, “One Way Ticket” and “Black Shuck” remind us all how good this might have been, of Hawkins hadn’t wasted a good portion of their already shortened set on guessing people’s names.

He’s also unhappy that the audience doesn’t cheer loudly enough for old stuff, which is a shame because when it comes “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” is a knockout stadium filler, just like always.

On their day – whatever anyone says – The Darkness are a formidable live act. This isn’t their day.

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