The Darkness have been at this tongue-in-cheek shtick for 15 years now, yet they still know how to kick it live. Opener Barbarian gets things off to a raucous start, and not even the PA’s poor performance can dampen the party atmosphere in the sold-out hall. It’s difficult to make out Justin Hawkins’s vocals over the muddy mix, but the intro to Growing On Me is instantly recognisable and the audience have got the singer covered.
Between songs the surprisingly fresh-faced frontman (sporting a clean-shaven look more David Live-era Bowie than Poundshop Jack Sparrow) is full of witty one-liners, but when he dedicates I Am Santa to their Scots bassist Frankie Poullain’s mum in the audience he shows his softer side. However, they can do without a second Christmas song, and encore Christmas Time gets a much better reception.
The Darkness are clearly still pleasing their older fans, who make up the majority of those here tonight, and they’re also doing just fine when it comes to bringing in new younger ones – judging by the number of kids being ID’d at the bar.
Some slick lighting mischievously spells out the word ‘fuck’ during high-energy highlight Givin’ Up, while new song Rack Of Glam’s hook – borrowed from AC/DC’s TNT – hints that The Darkness’s enduring novelty will be a good while wearing off yet.