by Pietro Truba
In 2004 there were a few CDs that never left my 1992 Chrysler New Yorker. As most of my friends can attest one of those was the Darkness' Permission To Land. I've even caught some random flack over the past few years about how my musical tastes were shit because as one of my shitbag friends noted that I once loved the Darkness. To which I promptly said it never really stopped, they always ruled. Their huge hit "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" was pretty international, the sky hook vocals and glam rock guitar lines still echo through Joe Louis most Red Wings games. All this is neither here nor there, except for the fact that the Darkness never really went away. Sure lead singer Justin Hawkins had to take a leave of absence to get clean. Hittin' six digits on cocaine? Yea probably time to pull it back a bit. Anyhow, cocaine insanity aside, the Darkness rocked and I was more than excited to head to the sold out show at St. Andrews earlier this month, and they definitely did not disappoint.
Hearing the slamming AC/DC riffing "Black Shuck" as I walked in the venue the crowd was screaming and packed nuts to butts in the sweatbox that St. Andrews becomes, even on snowy winter nights like this one. I finally made my way to the front of the crowd as they went through new tunes "One Way Ticket"and "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us" (video below.) The ebbs and flows of the set were perfect as the quartet alternated from slower ballads and slam back into songs like "Get Your Hands Off Of My Woman Motherfucker." Led by the clearly revitalized Justin Hawkins -- who sported a few different cod piece outfits, a slew of tattoos and a curly mustache, all of which he shockingly pulls off -- the band thrashed on as he and brother Dan traded solos, finger tapping and leaning over the screaming crowd.
The remainder of the set bounced back and forth from the calmer ballads like the solo acoustic version of "Holding My Own" and club rockers perfectly suited for St. Andrews like the newer "Everybody Having A Good Time" which was sort of an awkwardly fun sing-a-long. Then came a staple of the Darkness' live show, but a definite wildcard, as they gave a little treatment to Radiohead's "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" to the rousing approval of the crowd. Justin Hawkins fueled the song with his searing vocals and a guitar solo accented to a close by kicking his guitar pick back up to his hands twice and slamming the song to an end. Check a video below of the Radiohead cover in Chicago the following night.
To wind up the set the quartet closed with "Stuck In A Rut" and a short solo interlude of a minute or so with Justin dancing onstage with pulling whinedown guitar solos and a vocal echo and response with the crowd that would have made Freddie Mercury proud. Hawkins built the crowd up before slowly quieting them down asking "Can you hear it?" as he let the silence hang. "No, but can you hear it now?" He dances around the signature riff of their hit "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" before slamming the crunchy reverb laden track to the frothing crowd.
Naturally the crowd sang along as Hawkins milked every moment pulling the crowd in as they left the stage with their biggest hit out of the canon for an encore. I walked over to the merch table, assuming that they would probably encore with a new song so I'd head to the back to try to get a few pictures. As I stood at the merch table during the first song of the encore "Bareback" I looked over into the screaming crowd and thought, "Looks like he threw his hat into the crowd and they're passing it around. "
But after a double take saw that the hat must have been in the crowd for a while but Justin was now being carried through the crowd ripping a solo as he made a U through the crowd before heading back towards the stage. As he handed his guitar off he then decided it was time to scale the massive speaker stacks that flank the stage at St. Andrews to hang from the second floor balcony, mugging with the crowd before free falling into the arms of the waiting fans and swimming across the crowd back to the stage to slam "Love On The Rocks" to a close. All in all the Darkness proved that despite any gimmicky pop ballads, a smoking live show can burn through all the bullshit and make you remember why you loved a band in the first place: because they're simple, loud and entertaining as shit.
On a bummer side note, I was pissed to miss Foxy Shazam as I heard that they were fucking sweet. However, as I left the show the band stood in the snow selling CDs of their latest "Welcome To The Church of Rock & Roll." I walked up and told him I had missed them and heard good things, to which their guitarist replied "Well I assure you we don't suck." So for $5 I figured it was worth finding out, and it turns out they don't suck. Check out the title track below.
Read on for the setlist along with more videos.Setlist The Darkness 2012/02/10 St. Andrews Hall Detroit, Mi
- Black Shuck - Growing On Me - The Best Of Me - One Way Ticket - Nothing's Gonna Stop Us - Get Your Hands Off My Woman - I Can't Believe It's Not Love - Holding My Own (Solo Acoustic) - Love Is Only A Feeling - Concrete - Friday Night - Everybody's Having A Good Time - Physical Sex - Is It Just Me? - Street Spirit (Fade Out) (Radiohead cover) - She's Just A Girl, Eddie - Givin' Up - Stuck In A Rut - I Believe In A Thing Called Love Encore: - Bareback - Love On The Rocks With No Ice
The Darkness w/ Brian May New Video for the single Nothing's Gonna Stop Us
-Pietro Truba for MetroTimesMusicBlog