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12 December 2004: The Darkness - Wembley Arena, Wembley, London, England, UK

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The evening looks to be an agonising one. Wembley Arena's full of a gormless crowd only getting mildly excited by Ash's Tim Wheeler toting a flaming Flying V living out the title of Special Guest. There's only one band they came to see tonight. Just when The Darkness seem to have faded out, a legion of fans erupt as The Darkness kick straight into awesome new material soaked in testosterone with roars of FREE spliced in. Prepare to fall in love again.

Growing on me goes down a storm, and is heralded an old favourite by the band - a clear sign that The Darkness are ready to unleash their next wave of pentatonic geniuses. The sloppy Reading material is a horrible memory. The classics keep on coming. They need no commentary: they're performed to perfection. The crowd joins in, singing, dancing, clapping, it's hardly a concert, the party atmosphere is too dominant.

Justin Hawkins sense of humour is ever present. A pink keyboard emerges and the front man begins to play Take That's I want You Back. The audience love it. The keyboards turned on its side. Justin announces his gleeful discovery "It's a Key-Tar!" The crowd are told to jump - they jump. Notes stream out of the amps at a satisfying blistering speed. The Key-Tar works superbly with a hair metal revamp of 'English Country Garden" The secret to that second album may well have been revealed. Not being able to resist a chance to joke about his confrontation with a certain Irish superstar. He begins to play Band Aid; Justin Hawkins leaves the audience to sing THAT line. They're promptly greeted with a fantastically wry "Oi! That's my line"

The music isn't even half of the whole experience. The budget clearly shows. Pyrotechnics light up the stage in the true, horribly arrogant fashion. Spotlights are lighting up the standing area in a multitude of colours, the people in the back row are kindly blinded by a sudden wall of white light. Towards the end of Love on the Rocks however, a blackout occurs. Next moment, the lights are back up and there sits Justin Hawkins mounted upon a giant tiger. It hovers over the audience whilst the end solo is coaxed out of his pretty in pink, sparkly Les Paul. After all, this is Justin's show, despite the fact it's brother Dan's Birthday (who gets happy birthday sung to him, I hasten to add).

As the lights appear to finally dim, there's a horrible silence. People beg in their heads for Christmas time to be played. It's 12th December, the last gig of 2004 it's blasphemy not to perform. Silence. Boos seep from the audience, then a Santa costume is seen. They die down as two Christmas trees light up; there is not better way the concert could have ended. It was tremendous in the warm-up gig - it's monumental in Wembley. The Darkness sure know how to say goodbye, we'll just have to see how good they are at their hellos in the New Year. All I know for sure is the tickets should have been printed with 'Priceless'.

© Ian Polding,

The views expressed in these reviews do not necessarily reflect those of the team.

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