In Photos: ‘Access All Eire’ – Following The Darkness from East To West
The Darkness did something a bit awesome / bonkers this month. They went to Ireland for their ‘Access All Eire’ tour and played a string of intimate shows. Shaun Neary was on hand to chuck in his few Euros worth and take some stunning pictures.
It was only 15 months ago when The Darkness graced the stage of an over 1,600 capacity Olympia Theatre in Dublin. As a result, this had many people scratching their heads as to why the same band returned to Ireland to play a handful of dates in smaller venues (300-400 capacity). Clearly the obvious answer is the less is more mentality coming into play. Take approximately 10-12 dates and multiply by 400 and go figure.
The opportunity came along to catch two shows, one in the Dublin City University Students Union venue, on the east side of Ireland, and then over to Dolans Warehouse in Limerick, the west side of Ireland. As someone who never had the opportunity to catch them live before, this was a pretty exciting task to take on.
© Shaun Neary. All images are subject to copyright laws. All rights reserved.
DCU, Dublin 10/03/2015
Dublin sees the first night, in which I end up arriving considerably early to catch them soundcheck. The humour that they’re known for on stage, is not strictly for show to the general public. The daftness of The Darkness = playing the bars to ‘Growing On Me’ while introducing bits of the theme from ‘Heartbeat’.
It’s quite interesting to note that as the band were established in mid 2000, and the SU venue had only been finished being built in the mid 2000s. What makes things more interesting is that the Dublin show is ticketed for college students only, meaning that when their multi-platinum debut, ‘Permission to Land’ was released 12 years ago, the average freshman was five to six years old, which not only makes this particular writer feel his age, but also made for a very interesting reaction from the crowd at this gig.
Dublin singer/songwriter Eoin Glackin opens up for the dates on the Access All Eire tour, which from a rock & roll perspective, makes about as much sense as Bob Dylan opening up for Aerosmith on their most coked up day in the late 70’s. It manages to work out for the DCU show however he’s a familiar name to the DCU crowd. The Darkness take to the stage at about 10.20, kicking off with ‘Barbarian’, one of their newer singles released last month. Justin is off and running in top form as less than one minute into the song, he plays with the photographers by taking their cameras and taking random shots of the band, the crowd, and himself.
Justin straps on the guitar for ‘Get Your Hands Off My Woman’ which starts to get the crowd pogoing. With Justin managing to stay stationary for a short while, giving Dan a chance to jump around and showcase his own skills. It doesn’t take long before Justin has ditched the guitar again to show off his acrobatic skills, in the form of doing a handstand on the drum riser while the rest of the band grandstand. It’s clear to see that a five year hiatus, a line-up change and sporadic touring schedules have not affected their ability to entertain a crowd.
Midway through ‘Growing on Me’ a bra is thrown up to the stage, which remained up there, leaving its owner topless, and the security behind the barrier feeling pretty helpless. ‘One Way Ticket’ is still a strong performer on the live circuit, if not even stronger than the studio version. Anyone who is a fan of ‘Permission to Land’ was in for a treat at this show as over half of the album was played here. The band threw in a curve ball by throwing an instrumental of Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit’. Thankfully no cigarette lighters came out.
For a lot of people in attendance, this show was probably an introduction to the band’s music old and new, with plenty of room at the back where the bar is as a lot of people rested at the staircases and the upper balcony. However when the opening riff for ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ is played, the crowd surge took place. Anyone who was on the stairs was at the balcony ran down to be a part of it. Some songs never age. Band leave the stage for a breather and return with ‘Every Inch Of You’, to end in flying form with ‘Love On The Rocks With No Ice’, where Justin gets a lift from security and pays a visit to the bar at the opposite side of the stage, through the crowd.
Dolans Warehouse, Limerick 14/03/2015
East side to the West side is how this story goes. Dolans Warehouse has had their fair share of big-name artists grace their stage over the years – Snow Patrol, Franz Ferdinand and Kasabian to name a few. As far as Limerick goes, it is the venue to play. Needless to say this show was sold out in a very short amount of time, giving Limerick City’s night life a further shot in the arm during St. Patrick’s weekend.
The crowd is very different compared to the DCU Venue show, as there’s a mixture of casual and die hard fans of The Darkness in attendance, and when the sign said ‘Sold out’, it meant it! By the time the band take to the stage, there is no room so swing a cat in the venue, be it upstairs in the rafters, or on the ground floor.
Something doesn’t seem quite right though. The performance seemed to be taking longer to get properly going. It would appear that Justin is feeling a bit under the weather tonight, and he acknowledges this and apologises for it. That said, it’s not hindering his on stage acrobatics, and his voice is still up to the task. Whatever he was fighting, he did a stand up job. He happily admits that he’s loaded up on drugs for the performance, but “not those kind of drugs!”
There’s heckling a-plenty three to four songs into the set, of requests of ‘Christmas Time (Don’t let the bells end)’, leaving Justin with a rather perplexed look on his face, probably wondering about bell ends requesting Christmas songs on St. Patricks weekend! It goes further when Christmas jumpers are thrown on the stage. To Paraphrase the late Anthony H. Wilson, “This is Limerick, we do things differently here!”
Despite the heckling, the bells didn’t start, as Hawkins (not so) politely requests them to let them get on with the show. The ‘Hot Cakes’ material tends to leave a look of surprise on a few faces, which does make me wonder if some of the crowd have actually listened to an album other than ‘Permission to Land’, especially when ‘Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us’ and their cover of Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit’ are played. I overheard a voice in the crowd say “Do you recognise the song at all?”.
Regardless of all of these observations though, it’s still a very strong set for such an intimate venue. The band got into it, the crowd certainly got into it, and even the security got into it, as again, the band finish on ‘Love On The Rocks With No Ice’ with Justin grabbing another member of security to interact closer to the crowd, with a smile on his face the entire time. Unlike DCU however, he wasn’t allowed stand on the bar and put his guitar through the mill.
With promotion underway for their upcoming album, ‘Last Of Our Kind’, and European festival dates lined up for the summer. It’s evident that The Darkness aren’t a band that appreciate idle time. They appear to have had a good time in Ireland, and both Dublin and Limerick dates are a perfect example of this.