9th May 2012, Palace Theatre, St. Kilda.
I’m going to start off this review by making a few assumptions. The first is about you – yes, YOU. While you’re reading this review, you’re no doubt doing several things at once: Facebooking, perhaps tweeting and maybe listening to music.
Secondly, I’m going to assume that you’ve either heard of the Darkness and are interested to see what they’re like live, know them and love them, or have no idea who I’m on about and are simply looking for something interesting to read. No matter which category you fall into, my suggestion is this:
Drop whatever you’re doing and go out and see them. Right now. If you can’t see them, go and buy their CDs.
Bear in mind, though, that they’re not a band for the young’uns. Lyrical content references anything from sexually transmitted diseases to drug abuse, so you’ll need to be over 18 to attend one of their shows. Sorry kids!
To give some perspective on my crazed ramblings, The Darkness are a British band, formed in 2000. Their style is best described as glam rock – all the best bits of '70s and '80s rock mashed into one four-piece band. Led by frontman Justin Hawkins, they have more swagger and mustachioed awesomeness than Freddie Mercury could ever hope to achieve. That’s right - I went there!
For a band that has only released two studio albums (with a third, Hot Cakes, due for release in August 2012), The Darkness manage to pack a lot into an hour-and-a-half show. Their first CD, 2003’s Permission to Land is a crowd favourite, and every track they played on the night was greeted with a roar that would deafen even those with the hardest eardrums.
In addition to PtL tracks, they picked out the best bits of 2005’s One Way Ticket to Hell… And Back and were sneaky enough to play a few songs from the aforementioned third album. It was clear that every member of the audience genuinely loved the band – people were hanging over balconies, cheering every time even a guitar technician wandered onstage, and throwing all sorts of things up on stage for Hawkins to wear (F.Y.I., he looks great in a red feather boa).
The sheer energy of the band is staggering. Every song is played like they’ve downed a few dozen cans of Red Bull before coming on stage.
Every now and then you’ll come across a band that sounds amazing in the studio, but sounds lackluster at best live. The Darkness are clearly a band that lives for live shows. Every song becomes a spectacle: one minute guitarist Dan Hawkins will be busting out a solo, the next Justin will doing a handstand on drummer Ed Graham’s podium and then out of nowhere bassist Frankie Poullain will be playing the cowbell. The band’s zany humour is a standout feature, almost to the point where it becomes a bizarre comedy act rather than a rock gig.
All things considered, The Darkness are clearly passionate about their music, their fans and showmanship. Combine that with an energy rivaling the Flash, and you’ve got a winning combination that has well and truly lodged them in my "greatest bands of all time" list.
6 out of 5.
(yeah, the show was THAT good.)
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