Gimme a D! Gimme an arkness! Suffolk’s finest The Darkness are back with their first live album Live at Hammersmith (Cooking Vinyl), which as the name suggests was recorded at the London Hammersmith Apollo last year, during the Pinewood Smile supporting Tour De Prance.
Kicking things off in sterling fashion with the bombastic ‘Open Fire’ and ‘Love is Only A Feeling’, things start as they mean to go on – namely with a crowd-pleasing set spread across their five album back catalogue, from their debut Permission to Land (Atlantic) to Pinewood Smile (Cooking Vinyl), their latest. So with minimal small talk, the hard rocking quartet ripped through both new and old with energetic fervour; from ‘Southern Trains’ and ‘All The Pretty Girls’ to ‘Black Shuck’ and ‘Givin Up’, the only curveball being the debut album bonus track ‘Makin’ Out’.
Live at Hammersmith is a wonderful snapshot of a band in full flow, with a rapturous crowd loving every minute. ‘Givin Up’ and ‘Buccaneers of Hispaniola’ are an absolute riot; pitch-perfect replicas of the album versions. ‘Get Your Hands Off My Woman’ is heartwarming, as is the ensuing and very sweary mass singalong: so too is the joyous ode to dancing ‘Friday Night’. If you were wondering whether things could get more retro ‘One Way Ticket’ answers this with plenty of cowbell, courtesy of bassist Frankie Poullain.
Aside from the latter number and ‘Every Inch Of You’, One Way Ticket to Hell and Back (Atlantic) and Hot Cakes (PIAS/Wind-up) are largely ignored, which is a shame as tracks such as ‘Is It Just Me’, ‘Girlfriend’, ‘She Just a Girl, Eddie’ and their Radiohead cover ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’ would have gone down a treat… hell, they could have dragged along Ian Anderson and gave ‘Cannonball’ a run-out. Nit-picking aside, though, the two curtain closers were never in doubt; yes you guessed it they were their smash hits ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)’ and ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’.
Whilst it may not match up to the mercurial live albums of the past such as Strangers in the Night and Live After Death (what does?), Live at Hammersmith is a cracking album encapsulating what a treat The Darkness are to see live.