Live At The Revolution, Ft. Lauderdale, January 10, 2013
UG Team, on january 15, 2013 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The Darkness is a British hard rock outfit that released its first album, "Permission To Land", in 2003, hitting #1 on the British charts for four consecutive weeks and going 4x Platinum. They looked like the next big thing for a short period of time before falling and ultimately breaking up in 2006. In 2011, the sobered up band went on a reunion tour which led to a new album being released, "Hot Cakes", in August of 2012. This show was the first in their "Let Them Eat Cakes" headlining tour.
The opening act of the night was Hell Or High Water who was OK in their own right and stayed after the show in the back of the sub1,000-person club, graciously selling their CD.
I was touching the fence next to the stage where the photographers were in this standing-room only venue, so I got a very intimate experience. I also narrowly missed catching a few picks (the singer was always finding new ways to get them to the crowd) and I of course got a couple of random stares from the band.
The Darkness came on stage at about 9:55 and played until about 11:20. While this might seem fairly short, I had been standing since 6:45 waiting to get into the venue, so it was a relief.
Here is the set list:
01. Every Inch Of You
02. Black Shuck
03. Growing On Me
04. She Just A Girl, Eddie
05. One Way Ticket
06. Nothin's Gonna Stop Us
07. Get Your Hands Off My Woman
08. Love Is Only A Feeling
09. Friday Night
10. Everybody Have A Good Time
11. The Best Of Me
12. Street Spirit (Fade Out)
13. Stuck In A Rut
14. I Believe In A Thing Called Love (Break To Encore)
16. With A Woman
17. Love On The Rocks With No Ice
When they came on stage, I could feel a change in the air. The first truly audible words were, "everyone wants, to suck my c**k!" The stage was set.
The lead singer, Justin Hawkins, who also played a fair bit of guitar, usually lead, was decked out in a Steve Harris like black and white prisoner unitard that was open down to his navel. The bass player, Frankie Poullain, wore a head band, which gave the appearance of his hair being in an afro. His outfit looked psychedelic in a way. Dan Hawkins, the singer's brother, was wearing a plain Thin Lizzy t-shirt and matching belt. Poullain used a Gibson Firebird while the guitarists used a variety of Les Pauls. The drummer was Ed Graham.
Musically, the band's CD's don't give them justice. While I can only guess at the type of atmosphere created by a 70's hard rock act, it couldn't have gotten much better than this. I have seen brandings of this band's music from pop to power metal and many in between. I prefer to refer to their style of music as hard rock, though it was truly a mash up of AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, KISS, Foreigner, Boston, and a slight bit of Queen. A tiny bit of glam was added by Justin. While The Darkness didn't jam that much, they still gave me the impression that they were improvising.
Either way, these guys aren't the type that you watch play for hours while not moving because you're admiring their skill, they are the type you jump, drink, party, and shout with. Even though I could hardly hear anything besides Dan's guitar, I still sang along to the songs with whatever words I could vaguely hear and yet the song still felt full. That being said, most of the singer's vocals were done with the head voice, often falsettoing, going back to the 70's, a time when a band could do everything I am talking about and be revered instead of being criticized as gay copycats.
My only sour note on their sound was that the drummer could have honestly been anyone; he showed no unique flair, and hardly any interesting fills of any kind, though they weren't needed.
Dan Hawkins's amps, a twin set of Marshall 1957 SLP's, were right in front of me, making his sound by far the loudest to my ears. He used barely any pedals except the constant Ibanez Tube Screamer and his sound was awesome, the only word I can use to describe it. It wasn't trademarked like Slash and it wasn't legendary like Brian May but it was awesome and it goes to show that all you need is a Marshall and a Les Paul to sound like God. His solos weren't long and they weren't virtuosic but they rocked the house and added to the songs immensely. // 8
Perfomance: Now, STAGE PRESENCE! In a recent interview, Dan Hawkins stated that The Darkness was trying to create a stadium-like atmosphere in any sort of venue. I would call that a severe understatement as The Darkness played as if this were their last night on Earth. Their effort was indescribable, though I will try.
The Darkness obviously took many lessons from their classic and hard rock predecessors in stage presence, mixing trademarked moves with new ones of their own. For example, some say Jimi Hendrix would make love to his amp; well Justin raped a monitor with his guitar in an attempt to get guitar feedback. Dan utilized many different known moves, such as extreme power stancing, standing on the monitor and holding the guitar up, chord waves, and falling to his knees, though he only did that once in a planned maneuver. Honestly though, he was just having fun, not nearly as choreographed as Justin. While these maneuvers in total are well known and certainly not unique, they successfully acted to electrify the atmosphere and were certainly exciting to watch, to say the least.
As well as having planned moves, there were also spontaneous ones, like when a roadie came out to fix a problem with one of the Justin's guitar pedals and he jumped on the roadie's back. The roadie proceeded to shake him off and get out of the scene.
The crowd of course had a stage presence of its own. Along with the normal jumping and clapping on queue and singing along, the crowd was hitting balloons, crowd surfing at least a dozen times, and jumping on stage in the case of one guy.
Unique/Exciting Moments: Justin and his brother performed a jumping high five in the middle of a song while playing. In fact, Justin was something else altogether. He would play behind his head while in the next moment performing sexual innuendos while in the next, ditching the guitar, and doing hand stands on the drum riser.
The last song was quite spectacular in terms of stage presence, though most of it wasn't on stage. First, he took a random bra that had been put on stage and tied it around his back. Then, he performed a part of the song. In the middle of the song, Dan jumped off the stage and carried his brother on his back, ferrying him around the venue while he improvised on guitar. When they returned to the stage, Justin jumped off the stage onto what may have been a table or bar area. He also stuck out his guitar and willingly let some of the fans bang the strings. His trust in a crowd, signified by actions like this, was truly shown in his next action.
Justin proceeded to jump onto the rail of the 2nd floor balcony, walk along it, and then JUMP INTO THE CROWD and crowd surf back to the stage!
The place went absolutely ballistic at the sight of this act of true rock and roll. In fact, though I'm trying my best to avoid it, this review may have a slight bias due to the jaw-dropping effect Justin's stunt.
Here is a video of this part, with the jump being near the end:
Overall Impression: Without any cool lights, pyrotechnics, or effects, The Darkness blew the crowd away, giving them a night to remember. They seemed to recreate the magic of 70's hard rock with a sound driven by Les Pauls/Marshalls and a stage presence driven by adrenaline and testosterone.
Here is a video from the show to sum up their performance:
A ticket to this show cost under $25, yet it gave so much more fun and entertainment than the $175 I paid to see Van Halen and bands like them. I had only heard of the band two weeks before the show, yet that night of partying made me research them much deeper.
While their sound and many of their antics weren't unique in the slightest, The Darkness provided an excellent concert experience, literally risking their lives for the fans. While rock and roll has no textbooks, if it did, The Darkness would be in it.
Again, these guys weren't music virtuosos, but they rocked their hearts out and found a sure response in the energy and atmosphere of the club. Even if they charged a high price for their tickets, I would see them again. Considering the scale of their venues, there's no reason why you shouldn't go to one of their shows.
This show took place on January 10th at The Revolution Live in Ft. Lauderdale, FL in the United States.
Photo credit: (c) Alex Markow // 10