The Darkness' warm-up gig was billed as a 'homecoming' show, so we'll ignore the fact that the UEA in Norwich is even further away from Lowestoft than the last 'homecoming' show in Great Yarmouth in 2003.
The 1500 tickets had sold-out within days and the venue's pit area was crammed from the word go which gave up-and-coming rockers Roadstar a chance to shake their hair.
Roadstar were formerly known as Hurricane Party, but changed their name after the New Orleans disaster for 'sensitivity' reasons. As if that was the first ever devastating hurricane!
Led by Steve Tyler-esque singer Richie Hevanz, they boogied through a short set based around their Get This ep. Classic rock in a Guns 'n' Roses/Def Leppard/Aerosmith style - good fun but not really taking rock anywhere new.
Are You Ready?
The same could of course be said for The Darkness - but that's missing the point. They are one of the few (certainly British) bands that provide the nation's need for traditional rock.
Never one's to take themselves too seriously, they took to the stage to the glorious sound of Abba's instrumental Arrival.
For those unfamiliar with that particular tune, imagine the bagpipes of 'Scotland The Brave' teamed with 'Here Comes the Bride' as if to say 'this is just the beginning... you're in for a real show... there are no boundaries... we'll make it happen... we will prevail'.
All that was missing was the band taking to the stage on white ponies wearing kilts but maybe they're saving that for the arena shows.
Opening with Knockers the rest of the set was a mixture of the two albums as they introduced new bassist Richie Edwards to East Anglia - with only a brief interlude as his axe conked out during the tribute to Cromer crabs Growing On Me.
Justin now has a keyboard which seemed to form a wall between him and Richie at the front of the stage. This seemed to limit the rocktastic stage-runs which we know he's capable of.
When he sat down to play Friday Night, brother Dan disappeared as if it was simply too un-rock for him.
Man-boobs seem to be theme of the night.
One well-endowed lady threw her bra on stage which Justin then put on and christened it his sympathy bra.
He then threatened the crowd with exposing his own 'beergut of fury' and a moment later he did indeed prove that he's lost his six-pack and won't be doing any Men's Health magazine covers in the near future.
But as the man said, it's two years of heavy drinking and all bought and paid for!
Moments like this sum-up of the appeal of The Darkness. Despite their love of the classic pomp rock groups, they have their tongues in their cheeks. Justin is the consummate entertainer - funny, self-deprecating, a great ringmaster with no sign of any of the band's egos going out of control... not on stage anyway.
The gig was billed as a warm-up with no press passes issued (your reviewers bought their tickets) but security was very heavy-handed and tried to confiscate as many cameras as possible - barging through the audience to nick these master criminals who were flouting what were apparently management orders.
|Camera phone anybody!|
And yes, we had ours confiscated. All this when everyone else is holding up mobile phone to take pictures!
Not that we're bitter - presumably, Justin just didn't want any photographs of his new mid-riff.
That said, once we got over the idea of living in a mini-fascist state for one night only, the gig did rock and The Darkness will clearly raise their profile again as they hit the world's arenas.
Highlights from the new album were It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time and One Way Ticket To Hell… And Back.
But it was the old favourites from Permission to Land that stood out as rock anthems - Black Shuck, Givin' Up and Get Your Hands Off My Woman.
The latter caused Justin to ponder whether it was appropriate to use a word suggesting incest with one's maternal parent in front of one's own maternal parent (the bands' relatives were in the audience).
These tracks show what good musicians the brothers Hawkins truly are.
The audience stopped jumping and dancing at times to read the guitar chords, at times there was a struggle to work out who was playing which guitar solo. 'How do they do that?' We watched in awe.