Can I just start with, “Holy Shit!”
I would be lying if I said I had all their albums or was jamming to The Darkness on a regular basis. And when I was approached with a chance to review their stop in Charlotte I had to go back and listen to their first album ‘Permission To Land’ which came out in 2003. I didn’t own their newest album, ‘Pinewood Smile’ but went and found it and gave it a listen through and through again and again and turns out they are still the same rockers cranking out dope music. I never saw them live before but I was not disappointed.
While their success hasn’t always been easy due to lineup changes, addiction, a break up then a makeup – The band has been going strong since their reunion back in 2011. I was pleased to hear that their sound, to me actually improved on this newest album compared to past. (That’s not saying their first album was bad…I just prefer the newest album more.)
When I got to the venue, I could feel the anticipation throughout the crowd. A sold out crowd at that. The line to get in was backed up and the crowd was as close to the stage as they could get.
The Darkness took the stage relatively early for a headline show, 9pm, after Diarrhea Planet opened.
A short intro of ABBA came over the loud speakers as vocalist/guitarist, Justin Hawkins walked out onto the stage in his cheetah print spandex with matching cape and boots as he waved to the sold out crowd. Soon after, he was joined by bassist, Frankie Poullain in his gold suit. Soon after Guitarist, Dan Hawkins and drummer, Rufus Taylor followed.
The show boasted the glorious, hard-rocking “All the Pretty Girls,” which happens to be one of my favorite songs on the new album along with their smash hit “Solid Gold.”
Other solid jams included “Buccaneers Of Hispaniola,” “Southern Trains,” the feel-good anthem “Happiness”, the hugely emotional “Why Don’t The Beautiful Cry?,” and “Japanese Prisoner Of Love.”
This was an absolutely mindblowing live performance from Justin Hawkins and the Darkness. He rocked hard and was oddly enough one of the most polite rockers I have seen live – he threw in an f-bomb on occasion but was wishing the crowd the best and thanking us at every break.
From getting the crowd to sing along to every song or joking about the projector and showing powerpoint slides to wishing a lady he just met that day a happy birthday. The band made sure the crowd was amped and involved with the show. As the band briefly played “Happy Birthday” Justin Hawkins asked if it was anyone else’s special day and then proclaimed the day DARKNESS DAY to an eruption of cheers.
Hawkin’s voice, which is one of the defining parts of the bands sound, was phenomenal as he hit those crazy high notes he’s known for. If they come to a town near you, I suggest you check them out.
As the show winds to an end and the band thanks the audience one more time for being apart of the night, they close and walk off stage to the crowd still lingering as it was clear we all were waiting for that ONE song. The band played three songs of their first album and then came back on stage to play “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.” Perfect way to end the show with such a great sing-a-long jam then Hawkins jumped on someones shoulders and made his way through the crowd playing guitar and ripping it. Video on our facebook to come.
Produced by Grammy Award-winner Adrian Bushby (Foo Fighters, Muse), Pinewood Smile finds The Darkness in electrifying and energetic form, delivering some of the most sharp-witted, infectious songs of their career.
See more photos and some video from the show by hitting up our Facebook page, and while you’re there be sure to give us a like and follow if you don’t already.