Easter is cancelled!
No sweat, after all, it’s not even Christmas so everybody can calm down. Oh, you mean the album/tour by one of the UK’s finest rock bands to date The Darkness? Well, that’s another matter altogether …
The Brit Rock maestros return to Belfast is a very welcome one, unbelievably this will be my 1st time catching the guys in their time on their rollercoaster ride that is rock n roll. I can clearly remember my first time hearing ‘I believe in a thing called love’ on Radio 1 in work, it was the same time Dave Grohl heard the song played to him by Jo Wylie and I can remember Dave’s amazement at the track and the sublime guitar solo which closes the song, my only ever taste of these guys live was believe it or not in The Virgin Megastore in Times Sq, NYC, where I was shopping one day and whilst leaving the store a tannoy announcement, came on saying the lads were playing downstairs in 10 mins. Needless to say, I stayed. Numerous albums later, a highly successful Christmas song, rehab and a return to frontline rock, The Darkness are bigger and better than ever. They’ve done it all and have once again embraced their relationship with the music industry and have grabbed it by the balls once again. Their latest offering Easter Is Cancelled is a beautiful recording which sums up everything quality about The Darkness, just a more refined mature version but dirty and gnarly and as humorous as always.
Tonight, however, sees the return to Belfast also of Rews, fronted by local lass and B. e. a. utiful angst-ridden rock-aholic Shauna Tohill #futuremrsrocknload?. Once a duo, God giveth us Rews and God taketh away, when one of its founding members ( Collette Williams) decided to move on, so like many of her childhood heroes, McGyver and The A-Team, Shauna built a new band out of Duck Tape and spare parts of musicians she had lying around. What we have now is an altogether tighter, gnarlier v.2.0 Rews for 2019, now these crazy kids are here bringing their Alt-Rock goodness to The Limelight in Belfast once again.
Kicking off at 7:45 Rews set the Limelight on fire with high energy and highly addictive set, banging out punchy sing-along songs that immediately won over the Belfast crowd. Shauna had her share of family in the crowd but nonetheless their first performance as a trio in Belfast and made a serious impression with the Limelight Crowd. Banging out new and old numbers Rews had the Belfast crowd bouncing from front to back, Shauna and co were thrashing their guitars as their lives depended on it, Shauna herself grinning like a Cheshire Cat was clearly enjoying a hometown return. It’s lovely to see a locally born artist so comfortable in her surroundings, the way she commands the stage embraces the moment and owns it. The two ladies on guitar and bass gave it their all, rocking their asses off and left everything on stage. A short but sweet set made its mark and no doubt won over a new army of fans for this tasty trio, onwards and upwards for one of the UK’s rising bands right now.
9 pm sharp and the lights drop as a roar is let out from the sold-out crowd here at The Limelight Belfast, the members saunter onto the stage to applause from the crowd … as they break into the opener Justin’s vocals can be heard but he can’t be seen … an acoustic start to the evening sets a melancholy tone but that’s just luring us into a false sense of security. What follows is a barrage on the senses, wailing guitar solos and falsetto vocals from the man himself that pierce the ear.
Justin asks the crowd “Who’s here to hear the new album?” And “Who’s here to hear the old classics” well you’re gonna get it all tonight, he’s not wrong, The Darkness are in sublime form as they rip Belfast a new one with a majestic performance as expected by these live animals. One of the nights highlights is ‘Heavy Metal Lover’ which translates live beautifully, with brother Dan rapping at the end, shizzle got real. As always there a heckler in the crowd, tonight’s genius is Alex who Justin has a bit of banter with from the stage, less heckler and more super fan who appreciated the attention.
These guys are absolute animals live, blistering their way across their set with savage intent, it’s great to see it done old school with Marshall stacks behind the guys as they unleash unholy hell on the Belfast crowd. Q the cheesy intermission music and time for a quick costume change and the boys are back for more! The two dude beside me are living every second of that Hammond Organ song … God help us all.
Part Deux – the lads return fresh-faced and ready to Rock with ‘One Way Ticket’
These guys can fuckin Rock, as Justin says “we’re here to melt your fuckin faces!” The showmanship is off the charts as they start into the real classics from their back catalogue ‘You’re really growing on me’ and Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit’ which turns into a melody of ‘While my guitar gently weeps’ and back into Radiohead, such a glorious cover.
So chaos turns into comedy club as Justin tries to convince the audience that with a few quid donation they’ll shave their guitar techs beard, Softee I believe they called him, money starts flying from the crowd and Justin and the boys dodge coins for around 10 minutes till the music starts once again ! ‘Get your hands off my woman’ keeps the crowd lit until the time arrives for the poor guitar tech to have his beard shaved with the least precision available to man! But fair play he went through with it to his peril … as they do the guys rip into It Believe in a thing called love’ and finally close with none other than the aptly timed ‘Christmas Time’ to close a majestic show by one of the most charismatic bands in rock today. As one gent said 110% charisma! Blistering musicianship and equally entertaining it’s impossible not to feel like you have got value for your hard-earned money leaving a Darkness show.
Goddam! Come back soon!
Review & Photography // Mark McGrogan
@flashartmark // #flashartmark