Well, it looks like word gets around. 18 months after playing one of the most glorious rock shows The Tivoli had ever seen, The Darkness bring their glam rock revival and a litany of bad wardrobe choices back to Australia tonight to a much bigger crowd, tightly packed into the ground floor of the Eatons Hill Hotel (seriously, would it kill them to open up the balcony?). There is way too much leather and spandex in the crowd tonight, which is to say there wasn’t quite enough. It’s The Darkness and any amount of ridiculousness won’t even compare to the kind of grandiosity the incoming concert promises.
The band strut onto the stage and get stuck into 2003’s Permission To Land opener, Black Shuck, setting the tone of a night on which The Darkness would perform something of a greatest hits sampling of a back catalogue replete with gems. God among frontmen, Justin Hawkins is dressed in a purple catsuit, open at the chest as he swaggers around the stage occasionally lashing on a guitar for a song and a solo or two. His brother and fellow guitarist Dan, bassist Frankie Poullain and drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor are by no means second fiddle but are happy to let the flamboyant, ostentatious vocalist do all the talking.
“You’re the best Justin!” screams a punter. “No, you are,” Justin hurls back, adding that it’s lines like this that got him through high school. “We’re The mother fucking Darkness, no, you are,” he screams as the band launch into a medley of catchy numbers with Growing On Me leading the way. The set is Permission To Land-heavy with nine cuts from the debut album being played but nobody is complaining as these singalongs are greeted loudly and devoured ravenously with the band dealing with the Eatons Hill stage like it was Wembley Stadium – solidifying the comparison when Hawkins treats fans to a Freddie Mercury-style echo check towards the end of proceedings.
Frankie Poullain’s persistent cowbell announces the arrival of the 2005 earworm, One Way Ticket. Apparently written in a cocaine bubble, the track is one of the Darkness’ hookiest with its moronic chorus of “bought a one way ticket to hell and back” being sung loudly back at the organised chaos on stage. Party tunes, Friday and Get Your Hands Of My Woman are given the same treatement as mayhem erupts in the pit toward the front of the stage and, honouring an audience request, Hawkins treats us to a brief interlude of Hazel Eyes.
Hawkins voice begins to take on a certain rasp as megahit I Believe In A Thing Called Love closes out proceedings. Hearing about 700 people singing “I believe in a thing called love” in unified falsetto, while somewhat terrifying, is certainly an experience you won’t have anywhere but a Darkness show.
The band return after a wardrobe change (a green catsuit this time) and kick off the encore with a new track to whet the appetite for the new record due out this year. With a heavy and frantic intro and an instantly catchy chorus, Japanese Prisoner Of Love is destined to be a classic. As tradition dictates, an extended version of Love On The Rocks With No Ice featuring Hawkins being paraded through the audience, guitar in hand, perched on the back of a lucky stage crew member while soloing.
So just a regular show then? No, you are!
IMAGES (c) JD Garrahy