When The Darkness first burst onto the scene back in the early 2000s one of the things that first captivated, besides them sounding like nothing else on mainstream radio at the time, was the huge energy of their live shows.
Having been lucky enough to catch them a couple of time at Reading Festival before their ill-advised, too soon headline slot, I can more than confirm that this was the case.
Hot on the heels of their latest album, the return to form that is Pinewood Smile, comes a live album recorded at one of London’s most famous venues, the Eventim Apollo, aka the Hammersmith Apollo or really more fitting for a band of this style and heritage the Hammersmith Odeon.
I’ll be honest as I first put the CD on I was expecting something like Thin Lizzy’s Live And Dangerous with obvious overdubs and ‘tidying up’ aplenty.
What I got however was a fresh and raw recording that treads the line between feeling under produced and capturing the live energy brilliantly – surprisingly close in feel to Against Me’s 23 Live Sex Acts (if musically rather different).
At first it sounds like things might be a bit too much on the under produced side but, once we get to Southern Trains, and particularly Black Shuck, the sound has settled down somewhat and from there it’s great.
The track list largely draws on debut Permission To Land and Pinewood Smile and there are a couple of moments where it strays from these into slightly more filler territory, but never really long enough to spoil the fun.
Fun is certainly a big part of The Darkness live and, for an audio only format, this does a decent job of capturing that be it frontman Justin Hawkins lively chat. A highlight of this being the old classic ‘Give me a D… Give me an Arkness!’, which the crowd more than ably get involved with, and, of course, the band’s exuberant and playful performance style.
Added to this is the band’s ever-present Bad-News-cum-Spinal-Tap-cum-AC/DC flavour that reaches it peak on Barbarian, that really is The Darkness’ take on Tap’s Stone Henge.
While the sheer force of anarchic energy of the band’s youth may have been slightly tempered, Live At Hammersmith still shows The Darkness have more than what it takes or put on a tremendous live show – I just wonder why, for a band with such a visual element, there isn’t an accompanying film to go with the record.