Live Review: The Darkness, Apes

17 November 2015 | 3:09 pm | Fiona Cameron

"All the classic elements of a The Darkness gig were hauled out of the toy box."

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Despite line-up changes, splinter factions and reconciliations, one thing punters can be assured of is that a The Darkness show is always going to be much fun had by all.

Despite a few technical difficulties marring the start of their set — vocals are always desirable in a rock show — Apes managed to rise above above it to crank out a show that banged the right gongs and won more than a few new fans over to their side. Theirs is a raucous mix anchored by accomplished frontman Benjamin Dowd, who has a great set of pipes — when the mic works — and a definite glee; what has been a great tour has stretched them in terms of both performance and connecting with an audience. Ones to watch.

The Darkness' set was bookended by a couple of unexpected flourishes — a long folk opera intro courtesy of ABBA, and bass player, el suave Frankie Poullain taking lead vocals on a cover of Radiohead's Street Spirit (Fade Out) as the first number of the encore.

The days of frontman Justin Hawkins' lycra jumpsuit might be long in the past, replaced by a starkly tailored silver-and-black striped suit that echoes the '80s with its broad shoulder pads, but Dan Hawkins' Thin Lizzy T-shirt is an onstage constant we can all cling to.

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All the classic elements of a The Darkness gig were hauled out of the toy box, from the signature soaring vocals, jumps, strutting and posturing, to the pomp and cheesy majesty that is this band's stock in trade, so beloved by their fans.

The two-hour set mixed the big crowd-pleasing hits from the decade past with new tunes, making for high points that had the house heaving, and slower moments where the set just sort of cruised along.

Despite a big blonde beefy dude's prance across the stage coming to an abrupt halt when Hawkins hip-checked him into the camera pit, dedicated fans wielding cowbells and drumsticks — some be-wigged and wearing viking helmets — were welcomed up to augment the percussion on One Way Ticket To Hell... And Back.

The band departed amid promises to come back next year, leaving in their wake a happy, sweaty audience whose grins could not be shifted, even despite the cold and the rain awaiting them outside. Rock on, motherfuckers.