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Live Reviews

Ricky Warwick

The Waterfront Studio, Norwich

Wednesday 9th March 2022

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All 📸 (c) Denis Gorbatov / Full Pelt Music

A year ago, back at a time when live music was just a distant memory, Ricky Warwick delivered his stunning solo album, ‘When Life Was Hard and Fast’. The album featured highly on our 2021 Album of the Year list but since then Warwick has been unable to tour the album.

That is until now, as with restrictions withdrawn Warwick and his band The Fighting Hearts are able to hit the road once again and tonight they find themselves at The Waterfront Studio in Norwich.

THE HOWLING TIDES

First on stage this evening are young rockers The Howling Tides who make the most of their time with a splendid performance. The four-piece get the crowd engaged early on with the likes of ‘White Crow’ and ‘Crack My Soul’.

THE VIRGINMARYS

They are followed by the criminally underrated The Virginmarys who are emerging from the pandemic as a two-piece. Having witnessed the band live many times, I was interested to see how this new dynamic would work and whether they’d maintain their power.

Thankfully that power is still there, as is a new layer of ferocity as the band plough through a setlist featuring many new songs. These new songs offer great promise, whilst older favourites such as ‘Running For My Life’ and ‘Just A Ride’ remind of just how good this band are.

RICKY WARWICK & THE FIGHTING HEARTS

It’s not long thereafter that Eminem’s iconic ‘Lose Yourself’ blasts out and Ricky Warwick and The Fighting Hearts grace the stage. They burst straight into life with ‘Gunslinger’, ‘Over the Edge’ and ‘The Road to Damascus Street’ riling the audience up.

As if fronting The Almighty, Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders wasn’t enough, Warwick has also established a successful solo career over the years. This was punctuated last year with the release of ‘When Life Was Hard and Fast’. Tonight’s show is a mixture of each aspect of this unlikely career, including the likes of ‘Jailbreak’ and ‘Finest Hour’ from “the day job” as Warwick terms it.

Read our review of ‘When Life Was Hard and Fast’

Whilst these big hitters a natural highlights, it’s telling that the true highlights come from ‘When Life Was Hard and Fast’ including the title track, ‘You’re My Rock ‘n’ Roll’ and ‘Still Alive’. This just goes to show that at this stage of his career Warwick is perhaps tunnelling his experiences into producing his best work.

It helps tonight that he is backed by a tight band that helps bring his visions to life. There are a good number of The Almighty tracks in the set tonight and it’s ‘Free ‘n’ Easy’ that brings the evening to a close; a thoroughly enjoyable evening of the hard rock majesty that we’ve missed these past couple of years.

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Live Reviews

Pet Needs

Voodoo Daddy’s, Norwich

Tuesday 8th March 2022

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 All 📸 (C) Denis Gorbatov / Full Pelt Music

Voodoo Daddy’s is tucked away in the side streets of Norwich’s city centre. Inside you are greeted with a cool pizza bar downstairs and an intimate music venue upstairs which is the scene for the show tonight.

Only announced recently, this show is part of a small run of dates headlined by PET NEEDS under the banner of the Nick Alexander Memorial Trust (NAMT). If you are not familiar with NAMT then you really should be, as the charity does incredible work helping disadvantaged and marginalised sectors of society access to music.

For more information on NAMT click here

MORNING CRUSH / HENSHAW / GHOSTS OF MEN

Opening the evenings proceedings is a short solo Morning Crush set, which captivates the early attendees and finishes with a poignant new song. Shortly thereafter (Paul) Henshaw graces the stage and serenades us with a selection of rousing acoustic numbers. A fine start to what promises to be a great night.

Things get turned up a notch soon after as the hard rocking Ghosts of Men storm the stage. Despite some good old fashioned technical difficulties, the duo still produces an entertaining performance, raising the noise levels in preparedness for our headliners.

PET NEEDS

Those headliners, as mentioned, are Colchester group PET NEEDS. Fresh from signing with Xtra Mile Recordings the band has graced many a stage with labelmates such as Frank Turner, Beans On Toast and Skinny Lister.

They’ve been honing their craft and nights like this will help forge their cohesiveness and delivery. It may not be the biggest show, but the bands appetite is ravenous for a rock show.

Tracks like ‘Kayak’ and ‘Pavlovian’ instantly build the audience engagement and the sing-a-longs continue throughout their set with ‘Punk Isn’t Dead (It’s Just Up For Sale)’, ‘Toothpaste’ and ‘Tracey Emin’s Bed’ all highlights.

It’s a short, sharp set from a band with huge potential and the encore of ‘Overcompensating’ sends attendees off into the Norwich night delighted with what they’ve just been a part of.

That is the independent small venue scene, the DIY punk scene, the support fantastic causes scene, the just supporting new, exiting music scene. As we emerge from the pandemic, get yourselves back to these venues, find the acts of the future and support real music!

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Read our review of ‘Fractured Party Music’ from Pet Needs

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Live Reviews

Wolf Alice

Norwich UEA LCR

Saturday 26th February 2022

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WOLF ALICE – NORWICH – LIVE REVIEW

After another spate of COVID related cancellations and postponements over the past couple of months, live music is back once again. One such postponement was this tour, but thankfully Wolf Alice were able to complete a quick turnaround and tonight arrive in Norwich just the 6 weeks later than expected.

Along for the ride is support act Matt Maltese who provides a somewhat sombre yet very well received opening. Maltese and band serenade the audience with their unique brand of indie pop (imagine Keane in a jazz lounge) and no doubt win over some new fans with their delightful set.

Really though tonight is all about our headliners Wolf Alice. Acclaim and praise seems to gravitate towards the band with three highly lauded albums now under their belt. Of course, we awarded ‘Blue Weekend’ our 2021 Album of the Year Award. Anticipation is therefore high as the sold out audience await their arrival on stage.

As soon as they do arrive, it’s straight down to business with ‘Smile’, ‘You’re A Germ’ and ‘Formidable Cool’ instantly creating a connection between band and crowd.

WATCH ‘SMILE’ ON YOUTUBE
Wolf Alice – ‘Smile’

The incredible versatility of the band and singer Ellie Roswell in particular is a major part of what sets them apart from their contemporaries. Their ability tonight to segue between all out rockers and tender ballads with such ease is unfathomable. It probably shouldn’t work, but is does.

In fact, the audience as literally held in the palm of their hands tonight throughout the likes of ‘Bros’, ‘How Can I Make It OK?’, ‘Silk’ and ‘Visions of a Life’. Some moments even feel like an outer body experience such as ‘No Hard Feelings’ and ‘The Last Man On Earth’.

‘Moaning Lisa Smile’, ‘Giant Peach’ and ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’ all feature in the latter portion of the show and serve as the cherry on top of a delicious cake. If incredible music is food, then the crowd go home full to the brim tonight.

Some bands are really good live, some bands are great live and then a select few bands just feel special, tonight Wolf Alice affirmed that they are in that elite category.

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IDLES

O2 Brixton Academy

IDLES

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IDLES – 02 BRIXTON ACADEMY – LIVE REVIEW

The IDLES phenomenon continues at full pace, and the band commence their latest sold out run of UK dates with not one but four nights at the legendary Brixton Academy. We headed along to nights one and three to witness the brutal majesty of a band hitting their stride.

Each night of their London residency has seen different hand-picked support acts as IDLES curate what isn’t so much a tour but a travelling celebration of community spirit soundtracked by incredible musicians.

Over our two nights we witness wych elm, Wet Leg, Big Joanie and Sinead O Brien all deliver delightful sets to an appreciative and attentive audience. The supports each night help to build the excitement and anticipation for the 90 minutes of musical catharsis to follow.

These shows were originally in support of 2020’s ‘Ultra Mono’, however the prolonged pandemic delays to these shows have unexpectedly resulted in them now supporting a newer fourth album from the band. Yes, ‘CRAWLER’ arrived last year to much adulation and now gets to spread its wings live.

Read our review of ‘CRAWLER’

After all, IDLES songs do tend to breathe new air live and morph into different beasts when being delivered with the level of ferocity that IDLES somehow manage to conjure onstage. Over the two nights we attend, the likes of ‘Car Crash’, ‘The Beachland Ballroom’, ‘The Wheel’ and ‘When the Lights Come On’ all shine bright.

WATCH ‘CAR CRASH’ ON YOUTUBE
IDLES – ‘Car Crash’

There are also tracks from ‘Ultra Mono’ which has seen some unfair criticism. ‘Mr. Motivator’, ‘Grounds’, and ‘Reigns’ again all sound massive and fit well with the setlists.

The band change up the setlists each night but fan favourite staples such as ‘Mother’, ‘Divide and Conquer’, ‘Never Fight A Man With A Perm’ and ‘Danny Nedelko’ feature both nights.

IDLES are a next level live band, and with two more albums in their arsenal since their sell out Alexandra Palace date back in 2019, their back catalogue is also now reaching enviable proportions. These factors combined with the passion and energy of their dedicated fanbase ensure that IDLES remain one of the most vital and enjoyable bands gracing stages right now.

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Creeper

O2 Kentish Town Forum, London

Wednesday 15th December 2021

Creeper

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CREEPER – O2 KENTISH TOWN FORUM – LIVE REVIEW

Since leaving their Callous Heart jackets on the KOKO stage back in November 2018 the normally well thought out plans of Creeper have hit road block after road block.

With their second record arriving during lockdown, this tumultuous period appeared to be ending with their arrival of their previously postponed headline tour. Alas, the show tonight at the O2 Kentish Town Forum in London takes place amid more uncertainty as the pandemic rages on.

Support act Wargasm are unable to play due to COVID and many of the sold out crowd clearly are also missing. The night should be a celebration, but the atmosphere is cautious, there is an impending sense of doom.

Music though is the great equaliser and can take away all of life’s worries, even if only for a while. Opening act Static Dress do a fantastic job of raising spirits and blowing away doubts. The crowd are instantly sucked in and the band capitalise on their short time on stage superbly. Crowd definitely warmed up!

With no Wargasm, it’s straight onto main support for this tour, Holding Absence. Having released one of the albums of the year in ‘The Greatest Mistake of My Life’, anticipation is high for their set. Over the next 30 minutes the band lives up to all of the hype that comes their way.  

An assured and uplifting performance from a band on a massive spike in upwards trajectory. ‘Afterlife’ and ‘Wilt’ close out a short but very sweet set which captures the hearts of those in attendance. It shouldn’t be long before Holding Absence are headlining venues of this size.

Listen to ‘Afterlife’ from Holding Absence on our Spotify Hot List!

Our headliners tonight however are Creeper. The band have battled adversity to arrive at their biggest headline show. Their cult following are out in force, even if the attendance drop reported by the Music Venue Trust is in evidence. The night has a special feel, and if any band can meet the high expectations then it’s Creeper.

Musically stunning and theatrically spectacular, Creeper take their audience on a journey of delight. From the time they arrive on stage to the moment they leave, Creeper exude confidence. This show builds on everything the band has presented since their inception and makes a statement. This is a band at the peak of their powers. This is the celebration that it needed to be.

A mixture of material features from across their career from their debut EP to recent release ‘American Noir’. The evolution of the band is clear for all to see, and so is the effort put into the show.

Read our review of ‘American Noir’ from Creeper

It may have taken slightly longer than expected to arrive at this level of venue, but on this showing Creeper are still on course to progress into even bigger buildings. This tour is a master class from the purveyors of grandiose rock and roll theatrics. Let’s hope that Creeper now get a clear run towards their destiny.

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Enter Shikari

Alexandra Palace, London

Saturday 4th December 2021

Enter Shikari

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ENTER SHIKARI – ALEXANDRA PALACE – LIVE REVIEW

We’re currently counting down our 2021 Album of the Year list on Social Media. It’s somewhat fitting yet frustrating therefore that we are at Alexandra Palace in London for the band that reached number four on our 2020 list.

Enter Shikari released one of the best albums of 2020 in the form of ‘Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible’, but have as yet been unable to tour that record due to the ongoing pandemic.

Finally, they now have the opportunity to take that album on the road, but alas the pandemic still has tricks up its sleeve. Firstly, the band take to their Social Media to announce bassist Chris Batten has Covid and is out, but the show will go on. Soon thereafter another post emerges and main support act, Dinosaur Pile-Up are also out as a result of Covid!

Despite all this adversity, the determination of the band shines and the show is on. Nova Twins are the first act on stage and continue to demonstrate just why they are so hotly tipped. Their ferocious, rip-roaring opening slot is instantly enough to justify the show proceeding. The band feel at home on huge stages and by the end of their short set, they have a legion of new fans.

With DPU out of the show, Enter Shikari called on their friends, and fellow St. Albans band Trash Boat answer the call at the 11th hour. DPU are a hard act to replace, but Trash Boat are an act up to the task. After all, their album ‘Don’t You Feel Amazing?’ will likely feature towards the top of our 2021 Album of the Year list!

Read our review of ‘Don’t You Feel Amazing?’ from Trash Boat

They are able to blow away any disappointment at the lack of DPU within minutes of taking the stage. A traditional show of hands for Trash Boat first timers sees most hands in the venue raise, but by the end of their time on stage there is no doubt everybody now knows their name.

The quick flowing evening soon finds us being counted down towards the arrival of Enter Shikari. The venue is sold out and is packed tight towards the front as fans desperately await their heroes.

‘Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible’ is an incredible album and it’s only right that it features heavily tonight. That starts from opening track ‘THE GREAT UNKNOWN’ as the band burst on stage to a stunning light show and a blast of confetti.

WATCH ‘THE GREAT UNKNOWN’ ON YOUTUBE
Enter Shikari – ‘THE GREAT UNKNOWN’

The crowd are truly up for it tonight as are the band. Despite the turmoil of the day and being a member down, Enter Shikari are able to adapt and overcome and still deliver an unstoppable performance.

Older tracks ‘Juggernauts’, ‘Sorry, You’re Not a Winner’ and ‘Mothership’ naturally elicit huge responses from the audience, but so do those new tracks. Highlights of the evening include ‘modern living…’, ‘satellites* *’ and ‘the pressure’s on.’.

Enter Shikari are an innovative and resilient force and tonight is a celebration of many things, but through all of the adversity of not just today but the last year or so, tonight is a triumph of tenacity.

An encore featuring two more new favourites in ‘T.I.N.A.’ and ‘{ The Dreamer’s Hotel }’ and the always uplifting ‘Live Outside’ closes out another victory lap for a vital band that continue to go from strength to strength.

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Beans On Toast

Three Wise Monkeys, Colchester

Friday 3rd December 2021

Beans On Toast

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BEANS ON TOAST – COLCHESTER – LIVE REVIEW

This is our first visit to Three Wise Monkeys in Colchester and we discover a fantastic little venue above the pub on a vibrant and Christmassy Friday night in the town centre. Our reason for visiting is cult folk singer Beans On Toast, as he hits the road to support new album, ‘Survival of the Friendliest’.

The support slots tonight from local singer Benjamin Brown and main tour support Kitty Liv sail by, which is a complement to both for their delightful performances.

Soon enough it’s time for the man himself to grace the intimate stage and for this tour he is joined by Liv, and Mystery Jets bassist Jack Flanagan to fill out his sound during portions of the set.

The first portion of the show sees the three-piece serenade the audience with a mixture of old and new tracks. New songs ‘A Beautiful Place’, ‘Blow Volcano Blow’ and ‘Not Everyone Thinks We’re Doomed’ take centre stage and showcase his wonderful new album ‘Survival of the Friendliest’.

Read our review of ‘Survival of the Friendliest’

As with all Beans On Toast shows, there are sing-a-longs galore with ‘Watching the World Go By’, ‘I’m Home When You Hold Me’ and ‘The War On War’ all coming early on. Soon its left for Beans alone to break out a number of favourites and rarities such as ‘A Whole Lot of Loving’ and ‘Peter Pan’s Playground’.

Towards the end of the night Liv and Flanagan return for another superb collaboration on songs such as ‘Humans’ and ‘Let’s Get Married Again’ from that new album.

At the end of his encore, Beans On Toast is joined on stage by long time friend and collaborator Frank Turner for ‘The Album of the Day’. A great treat for fans, and evidence that you should expect the unexpected at a Beans show.

A fantastic evening of songs, stories and laughs is closed out with ‘On & On’ which sees the main man backed by Flanagan, Liv and Turner for a truly spectacular finale. Tonight was just further evidence that Bean On Toast is an underground national treasure!

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Stereophonics

Cambridge Corn Exchange

Tuesday 30th November 2021

Stereophonics

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Nostalgia is a wonderful thing, especially when related to music. Take tonight’s show from Stereophonics which is part of the 20th Anniversary Tour for classic album, ‘Just Enough Education to Perform’ as an example. Just the name of the album instantly takes me back to high school, instantly takes me back to sitting in my room and pressing play on said album in my bulky old CD player (remember those?).

Yes, musical nostalgia is a truly wonderful thing and is what ensures venues like the Corn Exchange in Cambridge are sold out for this tour.

There is no nostalgia for our young support act, Tom Speight, but after his delightful set, there will surely be many new fans. Speight’s short time on stage allows him to serenade the packed crowd with his marvellously crafted ballads. His gleaming demeanour is reciprocated by his legion of converted followers, as he ensures a superb start to the evening.

Check out our ‘Discover’ New Music Podcast

Up next is the nostalgia we speak of, as Stereophonics get straight down to business. Spending the first hour of the night performing the album affectionately known as ‘JEEP’ in its entirety, the band take the audience in a time machine back to 2001; a much simpler time, and a time where the band were dominating the musical landscape.

Monster hits such as ‘Mr. Writer’ and ‘Have a Nice Day’ punctuate an album blessed with quality throughout. Huge crowd reactions naturally also greet the likes of ‘Vegas Two Times’, ‘Step on My Old Size Nines’ and ‘Handbags and Gladrags’.

WATCH ‘HAVE A NICE DAY’ ON YOUTUBE
Stereophonics – ‘Have A Nice Day’

A short break then sees the band return to the stage to fast forward to the present for a run of tracks include new songs ‘Hanging On Your Hinges’ and ‘Do Ya Feel My Love’ from upcoming album ‘Oochya!’.

Stereophonics have done an incredible job in staying relevant some twenty years post ‘JEEP’. The fact that these dates are intimate shows despite still being large venues says a lot. The band, of course, will return to play arenas and stadiums imminently.

It’s a pleasure therefore to be able to catch the likes of ‘Maybe Tomorrow’, ‘Just Looking’ and ‘Dakota’ as the band return to the stage for a third and final time.

This band has proven themselves to be incredibly consistent both on record and on stage and nights like this are to be cherished. Ultimately tonight is a celebration of the past that also shows that the future remains bright for Stereophonics.

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The Offspring

Wembley Arena

Friday 26th November 2021

The Offspring

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THE OFFSPRING – WEMBLEY ARENA – LIVE REVIEW

As soon as The Offspring announced an arena tour with The Hives in tow, an evening of early 2000’s rock scene nostalgia was destined. With the walk down Wembley Way lit with Christmas lights, with festive music playing, a fantastic Friday night in London is in store. We just won’t mention the tube strike!

Whilst nostalgia is at the heart of the evening, we start off with something new, vital and refreshing. Bob Vylan are earning their stripes. They’ve jumped onto this tour straight from supporting Biffy Clyro last month, and they’ve just announced a headline tour for next year.

Our advice following their performance tonight is to get your tickets for said headline tour as soon as possible. Enjoy them in small venues while you can, because they belong on stages like Wembley Arena. Their politically charged punk ruckus is guaranteed to elicit a reaction one way or the other. Tonight the overwhelming majority are on board and the likes of ‘Pretty Songs’ and ‘GDP’ showcase a band with a big future.

Main support for this tour comes from The Hives, generally understood to be an incredible live act. Thankfully nothing has changed during the enforced lay-off of the past two years.

With their time on stage relatively short the band blast out their biggest hits such as ‘Main Offender’, ‘Walk Idiot Walk’, ‘Hate to Say I Told You So’ and ‘Tick Tick Boom’ to the delight of the crowd. Our headliners will need to be at the top of their game in order to match the brilliance of The Hives.

Read our review of ‘Let the Bad Times Roll’ from The Offspring

Things start well for The Offspring with ‘Staring at the Sun’, ‘Come Out and Play’ and ‘Want You Bad’ immediately getting the audience riled up. A visually simple yet stunning stage show also helps to fill the huge space of Wembley Arena and make the band seem at home on such a stage.

Whilst that word nostalgia keeps coming up, The Offspring are actually touring a new album and up next two new tracks demonstrate the quality that the band is still putting out. ‘The Opioid Diaries’ and title track ‘Let the Bad Times Roll’ are received just as well as the older tracks ‘Hit That’, ‘Hammerhead’ and ‘Bad Habit’ that follow.

WATCH ‘LET THE BAD TIMES ROLL’ ON YOUTUBE
The Offspring – ‘Let The Bad Times Roll

The question of whether The Offspring can match or eclipse The Hives is already positively answered by the time we are treated to an incredible piano version of fan favourite ‘Gone Away’.

The closing run of ‘Why Don’t You Get a Job?’, ‘Original Prankster’, ‘(Can’t Get My) Head Around You’, ‘Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)’ and ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’ is as good as it gets and vindicates the bands decision to play arenas on this tour.

The encore of ‘You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid’ and ‘Self Esteem’ is the cherry on the icing of a beautiful cake that is made from three superb performances from Bob Vylan, The Hives and The Offspring. This was a thoroughly enjoyable show, which celebrates both the present and future of punk rock.

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The Darkness

Corn Exchange, Cambridge

Wednesday 24th November 2021

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THE DARKNESS – CAMBRIDGE CORN EXCHANGE – LIVE REVIEW

Would it be November without a tour from The Darkness? I mean can you even celebrate Christmas until you’ve heard the band play that song? In my opinion, no!

Said tour is in full gear, and tonight it finds its way into the Corn Exchange in Cambridge. The tour is in support of brand new album, ‘Motorheart’; and along for the ride are Massive Wagons.

Read our review of ‘Motorheart’ from The Darkness

After original support British Lion withdrew, some might say that the arrival of Massive Wagons late in the day wasn’t just a worthy replacement but actually an upgrade! The band have steadily built themselves a solid reputation as a band and as a live act and slots like this will only grow that reputation. Win, win then.

Tonight they are greeted warmly by the Cambridge crowd as they preview their own latest release, ‘House of Noise’. The likes of ‘In It Together’, ‘Pressure’ and ‘Bangin in Your Stereo’ mix perfectly with fan favourites ‘China Plates’ and ‘Back to the Stack’ to make for a fantastic opening set.

Crowd suitably warmed, it’s then time for that band of folklore The Darkness to shine bright on the big stage once again. To be completely honest, it’s almost a pointless job in reviewing this band as they are so prolific on stage. When you buy a ticket to The Darkness, you know that you will have a good time.

The set list for this tour is as you would expect for a new album tour – a mix of said new album and cult debut ‘Permission To Land’, with a handful of other offerings thrown in for good measure.

WATCH ‘IT’S LOVE, JIM’ ON YOUTUBE
The Darkness – ‘It’s Love, Jim’

‘Motorheart’ is another solid album of typical Darkness material and it therefore fits right in. From set opener ‘Welcome Tae Glasgae’, to the title track, to the fun ‘It’s Love, Jim’, the new material presents well live, again as you would expect really.

Naturally the biggest reactions of the evening come from the likes of early tracks ‘One Way Ticket’, ‘Growing On Me’, ‘Friday Night’ and ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’. It must be said though that the likes of ‘Open Fire’, ‘Heart Explodes’, ‘Solid Gold’ and ‘Barbarian’ from more recent albums are also now received as set staples.

Singer Justin Hawkins’ on stage banter tonight is to critique the somewhat quiet audience. Having just the night before reviewed a gig whereby I felt the need to comment on the rudeness of the crowd in talking louder than the music, it leaves me wondering just where the sweet spot is for crowd attention.

All that is left to complete the night is that old Christmas classic ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)’ with the band attired in suitably festive gear. Then the crowd can go off into the night happy and ready to celebrate the time of year, all thanks to The Darkness!

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