The much-loved skin-tight catsuit made a welcome return at what Justin Hawkins last night described as an “emotional homecoming” gig for The Darkness at Thetford Forest.

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In the shadows of the canopy of trees, the Lowestoft rockers performed a set which included a host of old tunes from their first two albums as well as giving a further hint of what is to coming from their forthcoming third album Hot Cakes.

Saturday’s gig, the last of this year’s series of Forestry Commission shows, was the third time The Darkness had performed in front of a home crowd since reforming last year.

The forest clearing seemed made for the band’s energetic brand of Glam Rock, infectious guitar riffs, sing-a-long choruses and, of course, Hawkins’ belting falsetto.

Songs like I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Growing on Me and Friday Night reminded the eclectic crowd why we all first fell in love with the band nine years ago.

And, with a similar mixture of often ludicrous yet cleverly thought out and even occasionally touching lyrics, the new material – including Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us – gave us hope the long-awaited third album would not disappoint when it is released next month.

Frontman Hawkins was joined on stage by the original line-up of brother Dan Hawkins on guitar, bassist Frankie Poullain and drummer Ed Graham.

But, as always, it was the lead singer who kept the crowd enthralled as he chatted to the audience, did a headstand mid song and launched the now-familiar search for his and Dan’s parents who were apparently among the onlookers in the forest.

By the time of the encore, which included Hazel Eyes and Love on the Rocks With No Ice, a few drops of rain had begun to fall but it did nothing to put off fans who had, until that point, been treated to a beautiful evening in the forest clearing.

Support came from Diss band Walkway and American group Black Stone Cherry, who both had plenty of fans in the crowd and did a great job of warming us all up in between helpings from our picnics.

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