The Darkness have come a long way from the year 2000 when the then four piece – Justin Hawkins (Lead vocals and guitar), Dan Hawkins (Backing vocals and guitar), Ed Graham (Drums) and Frankie Poullain (Bass) – first formed. 15 years down the track and they’ve had a myriad of ups and downs; their debut album Permission To Land (2003) has sold 1.5 million copies and gone quadruple platinum in the UK, they’ve gone on hiatus due to internal band issues, and had multiple personnel changes. But the year of 2015 is one of the high points. Last Of Our Kind is The Darkness’ fourth studio album and proves to their fans that they are as strong as ever with a fresh, new feel.
The night of November 6, The Darkness graced Adelaide with a performance at HQ, and supporting them throughout their time down under was Melbourne four piece, Apes. The lads played a cohesive and energetic live show with great rock riffs and melodies that no one will be forgetting anytime soon. Vocalist, Ben Dowd, showed his prowess as songs transformed from soft melodic tunes to progressively more garage rock anthems, and the audience was more than willing to be swept along for the ride.
As the lights dimmed and the excitement grew, people of all vintages swept down from the bar into the pit. And when The Darkness did saunter onto the stage, the crowd were roaring. Opening with ‘Barbarian’ from their latest album, Justin Hawkins threw himself straight into the song and seemed genuinely pleased that the crowd belted his lyrics back to him. Keeping in with his fabulous history of interesting costumes, Friday night’s ensemble saw Justin Hawkins wearing a black and white vertical striped suit, that he soon de-constructed to just the pants and suspenders. Dan Hawkins, Poullain and Rufus Taylor (Drums) weren’t too shabby themselves.
“Give me a D! Hey, I’ll give the commands around here,” Justin joked with the crowd when they tried to call the next cue, “Let’s try this again – give me a D!”
The crowd roared, “D!”
“Give me an arkness!”
It was a dramatic and vastly entertaining show with Poullain (who was rocking the ‘fro and handlebar moustache, I have to add) doing an exaggerated wind up to playing the cow bell to start off ‘One Way Ticket’, Dan Hawkins shredding away on his guitar, and Justin Hawkins throwing numerous picks into the crowd and at the oversized disco ball in the ceiling. As expected, he did start a chant trying to get the disco ball to spin. It didn’t.
Justin Hawkins is an exceptional performer, as well as a talented musician, but he takes the cake with his witty stage banter. He talked a shirt off a man (and later on, a woman) in the crowd and wore it for a few songs, including a guitar solo where he gave a word of advice to all budding guitarists: “tuck in your long, flowing shirts; they get in the way.” He did a head stand, he played guitar behind his back, and he tried to wave at someone with his shoulders while he played the piano, and concluded that waving is a two hand job. The crowd couldn’t get enough.
They played a mixture of songs, new and classic. Crowd pleasers were definitely ‘Growing On Me’, ‘Mudslide’, ‘Love Is Only A Feeling’, ‘One Way Ticket’ and ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’. Nestled in between crowd favourites, The Darkness played a song that was the first they wrote with their new drummer, Rufus Taylor. He joined shortly after their previous drummer, Emily Dolan Davies, left to pursue other projects. And he’s making a name for himself not just as Roger Taylor’s son, drummer for the one and only Queen, but as a formidable musician.
Dedicating the last song to the man who gave him all his clothes, Hawkins began singing their most loved song from the album that won three Brit Awards in 2004 – ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’. He gallivanted across the stage, and his falsetto was on point. But all too soon the stage blacked out and the crowd was left chanting for more. The Darkness left it for a good while, before being cheered back on stage for a three song encore.
Dressed in “Aussie clothes” (a muscle shirt, tennis shorts and long socks) Hawkins continued on the show with ‘Open Fire’, a Radiohead cover that features on their album Hot Cakes (2012) and lastly, ‘Love On The Rocks With No Ice’. It was a fitting end for such a well-rounded night.
It’s been a road with many a pit stop for The Darkness over the past 15 years, and despite different band members and their time away from the music scene, The Darkness are still The Darkness and that determination to stay true to themselves is what brings the fans back again and again.
Words: Ebony Story
Photos: Matthias Pfeil
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