“Gimme a D! Gimme an arkness!” It’s long overdue, but the world is now the better for it: the first live album by The Darkness! Including a few quality B-sides, The Darkness had enough strong songs for a live album back in 2006. Time waits for no band, but now they’ve got an even hotter selection of hits and deep cuts to draw from, and Live at Hammersmith boasts 19 of ’em on a single CD. Sorry Japan, no bonus tracks for you.
All five Darkness albums and some classic non-LP singles are sourced, and what a collection it is. A lot of the newer material on stage consist of the heaviest songs: “Buccaneers of Hispaniola”, “Southern Trains” and “Barbarian” are like lead, but propelled at the speed of sound! The oldies span all shades of Darkness, from the hardest cut stones (“Black Shuck”) to the cushioning of a ballad (“Love is Only a Feeling”).
It seems to be, by and large, all the best stuff. “Givin’ Up”, “Growing On Me”, “One Way Ticket”, “Friday Night”, and the two big hits “Get Your Hands off My Woman” and “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” are present and accounted for. The last three albums are also represented, and as good as they are, it’s the old stuff that thrills most.
That includes “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)” from this seasonal Hammersmith gig. Maybe it’s those giant dual guitars, but this one has always seemed to work all year ’round. It’s just a glorified Thin Lizzy riff with a high-pitched singer, and that works winter, spring, summer and fall.
Speaking of the singer, Justin Hawkins has maintained his one-of-a-kind voice and range over all these years, unlike virtually every other homo sapiens on the planet. Let’s start a conspiracy theory right here that he is an alien, because the voice is just inhuman.
Would have loved “Last of Our Kind”, though that’s a minor complaint.
Hammersmith fell to the Darkness that night. Now you can relive it in your headphones, or home theatre, as it were.