Lords fight to host stately Darkness concert

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The Independent Culture

Two aristrocrats are battling to provide a stately venue for The Darkness' first concert on home turf in Suffolk.

Two aristrocrats are battling to provide a stately venue for The Darkness' first concert on home turf in Suffolk.

The new generation of landed gentry in Lowestoft, north Suffolk, are keen to prove they have caught up with the rest of the world by inviting their local band, the most successful group in British rock this year, to perform a gig on their ample grounds.

Hektor Rous, 26, who runs the 4,000-acre Henham Hall estate, and Hugh Crossley, 32, who owns the 5,000-acre Somerleyton Hall, are trying to lure the men in spandex catsuits to a homecoming in which they hope the award-winning band will play to tens of thousands of fans. The four musicians - Justin and Dan Hawkins, Frankie Poullain and Ed Graham - have not played a concert in their north Suffolk home since their recent meteoric rise to fame.

The Hawkins brothers and Ed Graham all attended Kirkley High School in Lowestoft and they have spoken of their desire to play a homecoming gig.

The offer comes a year after Rous and Crossley's fathers, the Earl of Stradbroke and Lord Somerleyton, handed over the running of the two historic estates to them.

Mr Rous has already announced plans to transform his estate into a Glastonbury-style festival which he is billing as "the biggest party Suffolk has ever seen". He said he had been in "promising" talks with the band's management over his idea to bring 100,000 fans to the estate. He also has ambitions to turn it into an annual event.

"The summer would be the perfect time but it really depends on the band's schedule and what they would prefer. I just like the Darkness style," he said. Mr Rous, who has been managing his estate for only seven months, said the idea had been inspired by listening to the band on the radio. He has approached Waveney District Council for their support.

Mr Crossley, meanwhile, was staying tight-lipped on his plans to attract the Darkness to Somerleyton Hall, but it is believed he too has been in contact with the band's management. A spokesman for Somerleyton Hall said: "We truly wish for The Darkness to come home to Lowestoft and do a homecoming gig - that would be fantastic."

A spokeswoman for The Darkness said the band had yet to confirm their plans for 2005.The glam rock band dominated the Brit Awards this year, winning three accolades including best album, best group and best rock act.