Opening the show for the Darkness was Hell or Highwater. The band looked like extras from Sons of Anarchy and the performance was the group's first opening for the revitalized Brits. Hell or Highwater played a driving style of rock that was somewhere between what a band like HIM does and your average hard-rock radio fodder. However, the group's sound somewhat betrayed its image, and we firmly believe that if you look like you ride a motorcycle, God dammit, you'd better sound like you ride a motorcycle.
For us, a point of redemption for Hell or Highwater's less-than-memorable songs was the thread of metallic-shred and harmonized guitar leads that laced the performance together, and the band's energetic performance definitely won over the crowd by the end of their set.
The entirety of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town" blasted through Revolution's sound system, stretching the anticipation in the room tighter than Justin Hawkin's striped catsuit. Then the band hit the stage like a ton of glittering bricks.
The Darkness was loud, proud, and the percussive crack of their amps punched in a way that's been forgotten. These days concerts are usually low volume and easily controlled beasts. Between the shrieking chorus, sexual innuendos, and burning guitar solos, "Every Inch of You" was the perfect slab of bombastic rock glory to kick the set off with, and the crowd was dancing and shouting along in no time.
Bassist, Frankie Poullain, looked like a member of Kiss on a casual night, donning leather trousers, a leather/silver lame cowboy shirt, with his familiar Dylan-esque afro rising far above his headband and the din he and his mates were creating. Guitarist, Dan Hawkins, had on one of his many Thin Lizzy T-shirts and assumed the rock guitar power stance for most of the night.
After a few songs, a call and response with the audience signified the proper arrival of the group, with Justin Hawkins commanding the audience to "Give me a fucking D!"..."Give me a fucking ARKNESS... We are the fucking Darkness, and we're here on business!"
Frontman Justin Hawkins lost his guitar for crowd favorite "Black Shuck," preferring to spend his time air-humping the living shit out of everything -- drum sets, imaginary women, a stage hand -- and getting theatrical between belting out his blasts of falsetto vocals. However, the man's guitar playing has gotten even better with sobriety, and the interplay between the brothers Hawkins was fantastic, particularly the jumping high-five the two executed during the harmonized lead break in "Best Of Me."
The show was built on a steady foundation of the band's beyond solid classic-rock styled numbers -- which stand proud on their own, of course -- but the theatrics elevated the night so far beyond what we've been conditioned to expect from shows these days that it will be a one to top for quite some time.
The brothers Hawkins and their mates sounded tight, yes, but they did so while Justin did headstands on the drum riser (while clapping his feet together), played a guitar solo from a perch atop his brother's shoulders (as they traveled through the audience), and the theatrical drama of the night culminated with a real-deal, "golden god" moment during the encore, in which Justin climbed to Revolution's balcony and dove into the waiting hands of the crowd below, only to be delivered back to the stage via crowd-surf and play another blazing guitar solo! At some point, Justin Hawkins had draped an audience member's discarded bra around his shoulders and wore it for the remainder of the performance.
The last song of the official set began with Justin hitting a single, crunchy guitar chord, played a few times without accompaniment. As a testament to the staying power of the Darkness' infectious anthems, the entire audience went nuts after recognizing this chord as the opening volley of mega-hit, "I Believe in a Thing Called Love." It was a special moment the room screamed along in as high a pitch as they could muster.
After the show ended, the banter heard from people shuffling out was exclusively about what a mind-blowingly entertaining show they had just borne witness to, and how much better the band was than people expected. The honesty of this group's passion for their style of rock music dripped from every riff, drum fill, and shriek heard last night, and between the great songs and the fun attitudes, we truly hope the Darkness finds its way back to South Florida again soon.
Personal Bias: Long live the Darkness
Overheard: Shrieking. Everywhere.
Random Detail: Justin Hawkins' striped catsuit looked what Beetlejuice would wear if he was in a cock-rock band.
-"Every Inch of You"
-"Growing on Me"
-"She's Just a Girl, Eddie"
-"One Way Ticket"
-"Nothin's Gonna Stop Us"
-"Get Your Hands Off of My Woman"
-"Love is Only a Feeling"
-"Everybody Have a Good Time"
-"Best of Me"
-"Street Spirit" (Radiohead cover, done Maiden style)
-"Stuck In a Rut"
-"I Believe in a Thing Called Love"
-"With a Woman"
-"Love on the Rocks With No Ice"