Music review: The Darkness, Barrowland, Glasgow ***
“It's difficult touring when there's a pandemic changing the rules all the time, but we just wanted to get here,” announced Justin Hawkins, a very distinctive vision in gold PVC catsuit. “To the Barras!”
His excited whoop after he said this emphasised the sentiment, but his band’s opening song had already hammered the point home.
Last month’s seventh Darkness album, Motorheart, includes a cod-tribute to Glasgow titled Welcome Tae Glasgae, which fuses bagpipes, Hawkins’ bad Scottish accent and the opening lyric, “I hit that M74 / I'm heading for / The city that I truly adore / The women are gorgeous and the food is ok / I cannae wait tae be in ye Glasgae.”
It was written for this very place and moment, and it went down a storm, much like the other highlights of the band’s seasonal set. At one point The Darkness looked like they’d be a flash in the pan, thanks in part to what we might call “over-partying”, but in recent years they’ve parleyed a ferocious instinct for a pop chorus and Hawkins’ dry, splits-jumping, self-deprecating wit into an enjoyable heritage metal career.
They played the classics here, and there were a few of them, including One Way Ticket, Givin’ Up, Get Your Hands Off My Woman and I Believe in a Thing Called Love, all received with adoration, alongside a number of worthy newer songs like Solid Gold. There was very much a division in audience response, however, between the familiar and the new.
Probably the best song of the night was an improvised tribute to the group’s Scottish bassist Frankie Poullain’s mother, who was in attendance. “Frankie's mum / Frankie's mum / always comes when we're in the Barrowlands,” it ran. “You're a wonderful woman.”
After that, a seasonal medley of Band Aid, Cliff Richard, Wham and their own Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End) only added to the good feeling.
A message from the Editor
Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.
If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription at https://www.scotsman.com/subscriptions