LIVE REVIEW: THE DARKNESS – IRVING PLAZA NY

LIVE REVIEW: THE DARKNESS - IRVING PLAZA NY 5

Justin Hawkins stands at the ready with a guitar pick in his hand. “Who would like this cool yellow piece of plastic, with The Darkness emblazoned upon it in the very cheapest possible ink?” We are just about to experience the climactic break of One Way Ticket when the band stops the song. He holds the guitar pick in his hand and is searching the audience for someone worthy. He points. “Raise this woman up and I will throw this pick between her ample bosoms and we can all go home after seeing a rather remarkable feat of sporting achievement. RAISE HER ALOFT! Raise your champion!” he commands.

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At first the crowd around her wasn’t sure what to do but then the chanting began. “RAISE HER! RAISE HER! RAISE HER!” and soon she was lifted atop shoulders. Her arms waving, she was ready to receive the coveted guitar pick. He tossed it to her, the anticipation palpable as it flew through the air, when some jerk in front of her tried to snatch it and knocked it to the ground. Completely accustomed to such tomfoolery Justin didn’t miss a beat: “It’s not my fault your wonder bra has failed you miss… wait is that a leather bra? Magnificent.

Fake leather, presumably, yes, I’d hate to think that some other creature’s utter’s were destroyed to create that magnificent breast hammock just for our amusement. But it’s somewhat beguiling… Here’s another pick for your trouble and humiliation and please accept this third one as an apology for the misogyny. And this one is, this is a thank you. Should we finish the song now?” And just like that, we were baaaaaaaaaack!

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On an oversexed wave, the glam-ironic-hard-rock band The Darkness rolled into New York City’s Irving Plaza to promote their latest album release, Last of Our Kind. The album title works on many levels, as The Darkness are some of the last of this genre achieving success and — as according to one fan waiting to get in — “The greatest band in the WORLD!” It’s not hard to see why there is such fan devotion after seeing a live show. Justin Hawkins (vocals and guitar) and crew, brother Dan Hawkins (guitar and backing vocals,) Frankie Poullain (bass) and newest member, drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor (son of Queen drummer Roger Taylor,) are dynamic performers that just get it. They have tapped into the nostalgia of the hair band heyday with a cheeky smile, a wink and a nod, all the while having true respect and passion for the music. The band sounded amazing in the venue. Some songs sounded better than the album versions.

The Darkness is just a great touring band with a great live show. The guitar licks were rapid fire, the drums were so tight and the bass stunningly motivating. And you know that “place”? That place where any other human voice tries to reach a certain high note, but just silence comes out? That’s where Justin’s octave range is strongest and thrives, making everyone stop, drop their jaws and then cheer in admiration and disbelief. That combination makes for a rock show that made the floor pulse and bounce under my feet.

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Kicking off the show, they went straight into it with the hard hitting Barbarian and they didn’t let up. Many moments of the show were gems, one of the brightest being Get Your Hands Off My Woman. “Many moons ago The Darkness was formed in the year 2000. We are going to play our first single from 2003. There is a caveat, is that how you pronounce it? First single in the UK, not the US of A. Do you know what it was?” Justin handed the mic to a fan at the ready. “GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY WOMAN, MOTHERFUCKER!!!” the fan screamed and the band went right into the song.

After rocking the song, Justin found his way up to a ledge on the side of the stage. “Put your hands up if you want to catch me! I’m bringing the mic!” and Justin hurled himself with reckless abandon from the ledge into the crowd. Surfing the wave of hands, he pretended to swim and appeared to be having a real moment of joy being moved by the crowd.

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For the encore, Justin came back out dressed in a white Thin Lizzy tee shirt and a tiny white tailored tennis shorts, ready to finish the night with what I can really only describe as “sex-er-cising” — leaping, wide straddling and strutting across the stage for Open Fire. The only time the crowd seemed to turn against the band was when The Darkness announced they were about to play their last song. With the crowd booing at the thought that the night might be over, Justin transformed the moment by shoulder-mounting a security guard and rounding the pit floor, climaxing the end of night into Love on the Rocks With No Ice. And as quickly as it came in, the oversexed wave crashed over us and pulled back from the shore, leaving us blown away, soaking wet and wanting more.

Set list:

Barbarian
Growing on Me
Black Shuck
Mudslide
Givin’ Up
Roaring Waters
One Way Ticket
Love Is Only a Feeling
Friday Night
English Country Garden
Every Inch of You
Rack of Glam
Get Your Hands Off My Woman
Stuck in a Rut
I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Encore :

Open Fire
Street Spirit (Fade Out)
(Radiohead cover)
Love on the Rocks With No Ice

5 Comments

  1. Correction: Justin didn’t shoulder-mount a security guard – he shoulder-mounted an extremely excited and lucky fan. That fan was me 🙂 I’d like to give The Darkness some credit for being unbelievably amazing and generous to their fans!!!

    • Oh Ha! So sorry, from where I was taking pics you looked like a security team! That’s awesome, not only did you get to be a part of the show, you really look like you were with the band!

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