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The DarknessEssigfabrik, Cologne, Germany
9th November 2023
The Darkness - “Permission to Land 20th Anniversary” - Special guest: Afrodiziac

It’s celebration time! The album ‘Permission to Land’, which put THE DARKNESS onto the map of music aficionados worldwide, and - with its unbridled embrace of Glam Rock - counteracted the prevailing the zeitgeist at the beginning of this millennium, is getting two decades old and needed a heavy celebration-


Opening the evening were AFRODIZIAC, a band around singer-songwriter Ivan Carvalho. So far, he has released four singles, with ‘Nightingale’ being the latest. Born as the son of Brazilian immigrants in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Ivan incorporates a vast array of influences into his version of straight Guitar Rock.

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Music & Performance
At 7:50pm, the three members of AFRODIZIAC walked unceremoniously on stage and kicked off their set. The visual appearance of singer Ivan Carvalho and the focus on the raw, unfiltered guitar sound invoked spontaneous Jimi Hendrix references. However, the arrangements sometimes contain reminiscences of the INCUBUS or STONE TEMPLE PILOTS works. Ivan engaged in casual banter with the audience in between the songs, underlining how happy he is to be opening for THE DARKNESS, and about his latest Gibson endorsement deal. The set was well received by the audience members of the sold-out Essigfabrik, so it was half an hour well spent.

Music: 7
Performance: 7
Sound: 6
Light: 5
Total: 6.5 / 10

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The Darkness

The band from Lowestoft, UK with their characteristic reinterpretation of Glam Rock over the years has maintained a solid following among their fans, who gladly embraced the opportunity to celebrate the ground-breaking debut album together with the band. The rise, fall, and eventual stabilization of THE DARKNESS, surely contains enough salacious ingredients for a Netflix production, with singer Justin Hawkins’ role as the tragically comic centrepiece. The humble band beginnings in a club in London’s Camden Town, their meteoric rise to stardom with their self-produced debut album, the rushed second album, the subsequent succumbing to temptations such as substance abuse - this narrative could have been invented by an imaginative script author. However, here it was life that penned the rollercoaster history, which fortunately allowed the band to commemorate this milestone with their fans.


Music & Performance
Just before 9pm, the main act entered the stage. The ABBA song ‘Arrival’ resounded over the speakers, the lights turned the stage into green, and the band members around singer Justin Hawkins arrived on stage to kick-off their set with the opener ‘Black Shuck’. And the Cologne crowd was so here for it. The fans - many of whom aged gracefully together with their idols - sang along at the top of their lungs, which visibly delighted singer Justin, who - wearing his signature spandex suit, which left nothing to imagination - embraced the love by putting on a remarkable performance of his falsetto singing style. After the second song, it became clear that this would not be your run of the mill rock show: the hitherto unsuspecting concert photographers were about to receive their share of singing lessons: Justin commanded them to come on stage, asked them which magazine they were working for, and coerced them to engage a singing repetition exercise with him, which they bravely mastered, all while Justin took a few pictures of them - kudos to my colleague André, who was also subjected to this procedure, which he will certainly never forget.

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After this delightful episode, the journey through the album history continued, but the setlist also featured a few oddities - such as the obscure B-side ‘Curse of the Tollund Man’, or the RADIOHEAD cover ‘Street Spirit’. The band’s cohesion, even during Justin’s seemingly improvised guitar solos and occasional banter episodes, stood out as a remarkable feat, which made this evening - together with the entertainer qualities of their frontman - one to remember. However, all good things came to an end with the setlist closer (and most famous song) ‘Love is Only A feeling’, which Justin smirkingly commented as ‘true words to live by’. The audience - through frantic screaming and clapping - managed to bring back the band with all band members now dressed in colourful dressing gowns - for two more encores, which lasted a solid 30 (!) minutes, after which the spent but happy Cologne crowd dispersed into the Tuesday night with the renewed belief that the spirit of (Glam) Rock is very much alive and kicking.


01. Black Shuck
02. Get Your Hands Off My Woman
03. Growing on Me
04. The Best of Me
05. Makin’ Out
06. Givin’ Up
07. Love Is Only a Feeling
08. Curse of the Tollund Man
09. Stuck in a Rut
10. How Dare You Call This Love?
11. Street Spirit (Fade Out) (Radiohead cover)
12. Holding My Own
13. Friday Night
14. I Believe in a Thing Called Love
15. I Love You 5 Times
16. Love on the Rocks With No Ice

Music: 8
Performance: 10
Sound: 8
Light: 10
Total: 9 / 10

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All Pictures by André Wilms

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