When The Darkness exploded onto the scene with their smash hit I Believe in a Thing Called Love it solidified them in the minds and hearts of music fans all around the world. With their unique brand of Rock & Roll, piercing guitar solos and one of the most energetic and engaging frontman in music, The Darkness really separated themselves from the rest of the pack. After a brief hiatus between 2005 and 2012, the band came back with a vengeance and released new and brilliant work consecutively ever since.
The Darkness was set to embark on their Easter is Cancelled Tour in 2020 which like many others in the industry, was forced to cancel due to the rise of COVID. But 2 years later the band released another new record Motorheart and they will no doubt make up for lost time. The Dead Deads will be joining them once again as they embark on a packed house here at the Brooklyn Bowl in Philadelphia who are trying to get their fill of some good hard rock music.
The Nashville trio of Meta, Daisy and McQueen hit the shortened stage with a wave of cheers from their devoted Dead Corps family. The Dead Deads meet at the drum kit for their ceremonial huddle before they dive into their set. They would kick things off with the electric sounds of Thinkers and Preyers off their latest record Tell Your Girls It’s Alright before turning things up with the heavy rhythms of their punk driven anthem Ghosts.
But it would be their thumping track Deal with Me that would get the Dead Corps heads banging along with that heavy groove and Singer Meta’s soulful melodies before she unleashes her attention grabbing screams. The band would break out a unique cover of Pink Floyd’s In the Flesh that had fans looking at each other like they knew it sounded familiar but couldn’t quite place it. Once they heard those memorable lines, the lightbulb moment could have lit the room as they recited every verse word for word with surprise and excitement all over their faces.
The Dead Deads bring a level of energy and stage presence that you need not only to really make your live show actractive to fans. But when you’re on the road with a band like The Darkness, you definitely need to have that something extra. And that’s exactly what we got throughout their set. There were some pump the breaks elements in a few songs. But The Dead Deads pumped out a lot of fast paced and hard hitting music that surly pulled in fresh recruits to the Dead Corps tonight.
After a quick breakdown, the stage is cleared and ready for the Rock & Roll tornado that was about to touchdown. Luckily the fans wouldn’t have to wait long. When the room goes dark the fans light up with excitement. Next the band started to file out from behind the stage curtain and even through the darkness on stage (no pun intended) it wasn’t hard to spot Singer Justin Hawkins sporting a glimmering pair of purple leg chaps. While he soaks in the sea of eager fans he provokes the crowd to clap their hands together as The Darkness roll into the opening track of their new record Motorheart with Welcome Tae Glesgae.
It was amazing watching them go from zero to a thousand in the blink of an eye and it ignited the crowd immediately. The energy that this band puts out is unbelievable. No warm up. No easing into the set. It was shot out of canon rock music that exploded on everyone in the room. Motorheart’s intro had Hawkins once again leading the fans with direction as he walked to the edge of the stage with devil horns high in the sky head banging away.
The five minute onslaught had everything from middle eastern leads, furious Motorhead style guitar riffs and enough tenor style vocals to make you think you were at a Queen show. And we can’t leave out the stellar cameo appearance on cowbell throughout the song by Frankie Poullain’s Bass tech.
Solid Gold would have the fans jumping across the floor while Justin does a side walking jig across the stage. During the song’s chorus Hawkins would trot across the front of the stage hanging the mic well into the crowd to let them belt out the “And we’re never going to stop”. And that would be an ongoing theme throughout the night.
Just about every member of the band interacted directly with fans in one way or another and you could just see all of the enjoyment and excitement on their faces. The Darkness is a band that does not hide the fact that they want to have fun on stage and keep things loose which in turn makes them incredibly entertaining to see live.
During a short addressing of the fans. Justin Hawkins had delivered a smooth sales pitch to the crowd for one of the band’s shirts. “If you buy one. Bring it to me with a proof of purchase that you bought it in the last ten minutes, and I’ll lick your nostril. Inside. I don’t care about COVID anymore”. As the room swells with laughter, seconds later a fan holds the shirt up in the air and as Hawkins locks in on him he stops and asks “Sir when did you buy that?”. And of course his response was a couple of seconds ago to which Justin’s laughing response was “I don’t think so. No. I’ve only just finished the sentence. There’s no way you could have possibly bought it at that time. Have this man’s nostrils scrubbed and brought to me.”. Never a dull moment at one of these shows.
During Black Shuck, Hawkins slips off stage during his brother Dan’s killer guitar solo. Only to reappear sporting a stylish white spandex Cowboy onesie, complete with horseshoes embroidered all over it. Upon his return, the band get into their stunning ballad off of 2019’s Easter is Cancelled with Heart Explodes they request the assistance of their guitar tech Softy to strap up an acoustic guitar and join them on stage.
It was honestly a heartfelt performance that lyrically a lot of fans can relate to. It was probably the only time in the entire set that the band throttled back just a bit. But I think it was the right song and time to do it. You could look out over the crowd and really see the captivation that was taking place.
This was a great record that like most of their albums is just jammed packed with killer music. You could look at this tour as kind of a “two birds with one stone” scenario to promote not only Motorheart, but also to bring music from Easter is Cancelled to the fans live for the first time after the original tour was cancelled due to COVID taking off in 2020. And Heart Explodes is no doubt one of the best tracks on the record.
During Friday Night, one fan tossed his KISS Kruise hat on stage which Justin happily wore for the remainder of the song as well as Love Is Only a Feeling. Before returning it, Hawkins put the pic he used to play both songs into his mouth and spit it into the hat before returning it to its owner. How many people can say that they have the pic that was played and also regurgitated by the lead guitarist of The Darkness? I want to say no one. But I may just be lying to myself.
The party would continue on as The Darkness would march on through a multitude of fan favorites like Japanese Prisoner of Love, Barbarian and of course Get Your Hands Off My Woman. When the song wraps up, The Darkness would salute their fans as they leave the stage under a wave of applause. Even after witnessing a staggering fifteen song set everyone was left feeling a little bit like there might be something left in the show. And true to form they were not wrong. After a short off stage break, Bassist Frankie Poullain re-appears sporting a gold smoking jacket and studded motorcycle hat.
He began to casually walk the stage holding his bass in all different directions as the vibration of his strings reverberated through a synthesizer effect across the entire building. In the midst of his synth saturated solo the fans cheer as Rufus Taylor appears behind the drum kit. But when Justin Hawkins steps out wearing only a pair of black underwear and matching hat to Frankie, the crowd absolutely loses it. This by the way was wardrobe change number three for those keeping score at home.
Hawkins had requested “Put your phones away, just for this one song please. I want to see everyone bouncing. This might be our last time to bounce until next time ok?. BOUNCE. Bounce like there’s no tomorrow!”. While the crowd oblige into a slow and off time bounce, Justin launches into the song that everyone wanted to hear not to mention one of the most addictive riffs in the last 20 years. You guessed it. I Believe In a Thing Called Love. Needless to say, the entire floor now begins to leap into the air.
Even with the energy at its highest and all of the moving around on stage, The Darkness delivers a flawless and powerful performance that had every note, lyric and solo as bright and on pace with how we all first heard it almost 20 years ago. It was comical at times listening to the crowd try to maneuver through the higher harmony of the chorus line that even had Dan Hawkins smiling and shaking his head. But at the end of the day The Darkness appreciated this crowd almost as much they appreciated this amazing show from the band.
To say that I was completely blown away by this show would be an understatement. It was incredible to watch these guys on stage play at the pace that they did all while moving about like mad men. You also can’t deny the remarkable level of talent that was on full display here tonight. It was an absolute guitar clinic on that stage watching Justin and Dan trade hard hitting riffs and blistering solos while the percussive duo of Rufus Taylor and Frankie Poullain dished out beats you could feel in your chest. And let’s just say “Holy Shit” to Justin Hawkins vocal range and power and leave it at that.
In the wake of an impressive 34 city tour, it would wrap up the very next night in Boston. But I can’t stress this enough. The next time The Darkness announces a tour, whether it’s in your town or you have to jump in the car and take a road trip. GO! You won’t catch many shows that have such a high level of energy, interaction, killer songs and laughs all within the same hour and a half. I promise you won’t be disappointed.