Sunday, November 28, 2004

LIVE review - Nottingham Ice Arena (24/11/04)

Finally! One relenting brother and free ticket later, I was off to Nottingham Ice Arena. And, after the other week's outing to the Cambridge Corn Exchange, this place was huge. If you haven't cottoned on yet, this week I have been to the first gig of the UK arena tour of The Darkness. Now, although they managed to clinch the first entry on this blog, right back in August, I'm not a huge fan, and it was purely by chance, and some very special guests, that I made it at all.

The entire show was tarnished by the sub-standard sound quality that you tend to get at the Ice Arena (which has since resulted in endless ringing in my ears) and the general lack of atmosphere there. However, there was the most diverse audience I had ever seen - teenagers, university students, heavily made-up eight year olds, 70s rockers and middle-aged women in sparkly why did the audience seem so...quiet?

Do Me Bad Things:
I was first introduced to this band by Dan, a fan of WL. After hearing just one song sample, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. What I found that night was rock's equivalent of the Polyphonic Spree. DMBT have two lead male vocalists, along with three female vocalists, two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer. While one vocalist vaguely resembles the lead singer of The Zutons, the other is a bizarre hybrid of Freddie Mercury and Jake Shears, managing to squeeze in more costume changes than Justin Hawkins. DMBT had some average tunes, along with a few that stood out, including a duet between the slightly more camped-up lead vocalist and the soulful voice of one of the women. I wasn't entirely convinced, but my brother is extremely keen to visit their website. Chances are, if you like The Darkness, you'll probably be quite interested in Do Me Bad Things.

After Do Me Bad Things, I sneaked out to buy a t-shirt, returning just in time to see Tim Wheeler, guitar alight, along with the rest of Ash, about to launch into their set. For Ash, there was more lighting, and the giant screens displayed the band for all to see. Now, contrary to the beliefs of the Leicester Mercury journalist who apparently attended the concert, Ash were NOT remotely rubbish. They played all my favourites, including 'Shining Light' and 'Starcrossed'. I am eagerly anticipating the release of their next single, 'Renegade Cavalcade' after their stunning performance, despite the terrible sound quality. They finished off their set with two stunning uptempo tunes, designed to get the crowd moving - and they did just that! 'Orpheus' is tailor-made for live performances, and again, an Ash set wouldn't be complete without 'Burn Baby Burn' (cheerleaders not included!) which rounded off a great 50-minute set.

The Darkness:
If I could have, I probably would have gone home. I've never been a huge fan of The Darkness, although I appreciate a few of their songs, and knew of their existance several months before my obsessed sibling. Anyway, after jumping on stage wearing the first of several bizarre outfits, Justin plunged straight into their opening song with enthusiasm. The audience didn't. The Darkness made that near-fatal mistake of playing a song that nobody knew. Nevertheless, they later reeled the audience back in with a few favourites, like 'Friday Night' and 'Black Shuck', a few gimmicks (Robin Hood hat, anyone?) and trying to get the entire crowd to sing 'motherf***er', before repeatedly insulting those who were in the seats. I eventually managed to drag my brother up to standing for 'I Believe In A Thing Called Love' - he'd regret it later, otherwise.

The entire set was accompanied by plenty of fireworks, lighting, glitter and pyrotechnics, but the show's highlight really lended itself to a WL review. Wearing a catsuit resembling wafer-thin, crinkly-plastic, holographic wrapping paper, Justin rode out over the audience on a tiger, no, not a real tiger, trying to play a complex guitar solo. And something broke. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) it wasn't the wires suspending the tiger from a track above the stage, and it was Justin's guitar. So, Justin did what any rockstar would do, moan, protest to the technical folk, and do it again, just...backwards. Oh, and if that wasn't enough, roadies in Santa outfits laid out trees and decor for an encore of last year's cliché bound Christmas effort. Oh, and boys, it really isn't a good idea to play 'Time of My Life' afterwards - it upsets the hardcore fans.

So, what did I think? It left my head pounding and my ears ringing, and no, I'm not converted, and neither are The Darkness 'growing on me'.