The Darkness have had an up and down career to date. Having formed in 2000, they made an instant impact with their legendary debut, Permission to Land in 2003. This album was phenomenally successful and saw the band win many awards as well as earning huge crossover appeal with their radio friendly rock tunes.
That success brought pressure and their second album, One Way Ticket to Hell…and Back didn’t quite have the same impact. Then a year later, frontman and vocalist Justin Hawkins would leave the band.
The remaining members of the band would go on to form Stone Gods while Hawkins would end up fronting his own project called Hot Leg. Neither band came close to touching the success that The Darkness had so in 2011, they reformed and released their third album, Hot Cakes in 2012.
A well received record, the band followed that up with Last of Our Kind in 2015 and Pinewood Smile at the end of 2017.
Which brings us to this…The Darkness’ first live album called Live at Hammersmith. It captures the band’s ‘Tour de Prance’ show at the Eventim Hammersmith Apollo on December 10th 2017.
19 tracks spanning their lengthy career, there is no denying that you get your money’s worth here and the sound quality is top-notch. The Darkness sound super tight and deliver a rock and roll experience that almost captures what makes a live album truly great.
You see, a live album should try and put you there. It should make you feel as though you’re in a hot & sweaty venue bouncing along with noisy fans. It shouldn’t be looking for a clean and crisp production of the songs. These can be heard on any of the band’s albums and if you’re just looking for a ‘best of’ The Darkness then go pick up their compilation record.
To us, a truly great live album should be noisy beyond what music the band is playing and on that front Live at Hammersmith fails to hit the mark. Either this was the quietest crowd to go to a rock and roll show or they were filtered out in favour of a cleaner and louder band sound.
It sounds like an odd complaint but all of these songs are available on better produced albums. Give me rawness, the roar and singing of a happy crowd. It is there, during the parts when the band aren’t playing but even then it often seems like nothing more then polite applause.
That aside, is it any good? Well if you’re a fan then you should love this as the band are on fire. Tracks like Love is Only a Feeling, One Way Ticket, Givin’ Up, Get Your Hands Off My Woman and I Believe in a Thing Called Love Sound positively great.
The highlight? The greatest Christmas song ever. Now bear in mind that although you’re listening to this in June 2018 it was recorded 15 days before Christmas so it being part of their set isn’t that odd. It’s a fun and very catchy track which is what The Darkness are really. They’ve carved out a respectable career and now they can tick the box that says ‘release a live album’. Happily though a little more effort was put in to make it a good listen.
The Darkness – Live at Hammersmith Full Track Listing:
1. Open Fire (Live)
2. Love is Only a Feeling (Live)
3. Southern Trains (Live)
4. Black Shuck (Live)
5. One Way Ticket (Live)
6. Givin’ Up (Live)
7. All the Pretty Girls (Live)
8. Barbarian (Live)
9. Buccaneers of Hispaniola (Live)
10. Friday Night (Live)
11. Makin’ Out (Live)
12. Every Inch of You (Live)
13. Solid Gold (Live)
14. Stuck in a Rut (Live)
15. Get Your Hands Off My Woman (Live)
16. Growing On Me (Live)
17. Japanese Prisoner of Love (Live)
18. Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End) (Live)
19. I Believe in a Thing Called Love (Live)
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You can pick up the album via Amazon above and stream it via Apple Music below.
The Darkness - Live at Hammersmith (Canary Dwarf Limited)