Words and Pictures: Robert Cavuoto
The Darkness strutted their way into the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on Saturday, April 21st for their Tour de Prance supporting their latest CD release, Pinewood Smile.
There is always a high expectation when The Darkness comes to town that they must deliver on and at tonight’s show they surpassed the mark. Their performance always involves a mix of good music, mayhem, mustaches, comedy, and a healthy dose of danger! Think Ringling Brothers Circus meets Cirque du Soleil set to a wall of crushing guitars and head-rattling melodies sung in falsetto.
The members; Justin Hawkins [lead vocal/guitar], Dan Hawkins [guitar] Frankie Poullain [bass] and newest member Rufus Taylor [drums] who is the son of Queen drummer all have undeniable chemistry and style of playing that complements the songs as well as each other.
The band came out swinging with three strong songs; “Open Fire,” “Love is Only a Feeling,” and “Southern Trains.” All members working in perfect harmony knowing all their parts, nuances, and queues without hesitation – which was no easy task as Justin could quickly start joking with the audience, toss picks at the mirror ball on the ceiling or try on woman’s eyewear. All in good fun of course!
Justin was decked out in leopard leotard strutted and paraded his way around the stage, sometimes singing, sometimes playing guitar, and sometimes doing both at the same time. He is the quintessential charismatic front man, and it’s not because he gets to wear a cape or can do a toe jump from the drum riser or gets carried around the audience on the shoulders by a roadie during “Love on the Rocks with No Ice.” Those attributes certainly help, but it’s really because he sang and played every song with passion, from the heart, with an insatiable itch…. to please the fans. He is a true entertainer in every sense of the word and the fans have come to the show to witness it and have a great time!
His brother Dan is a little more subdued who hangs in the back holding the fort down and takes center stage for his leads. He is the anchor of the band that allows Justin to soar similar to the musical relationship of Angus Young and Malcolm Young of AC/DC. Keeping up with the duo and playing in the pocket is Rufus on drums and Frankie on bass. Rufus’s drum kit took a monstrous beating as he picked up more power with each passing song. Frankie is a powerhouse bassist laying down the unflinching backbeat for the band.
Sonically The Darkness are Rock n’ Roll veterans with an affinity to writing well-crafted songs as their set was culled from the best songs of their four albums. The songs go beyond the thunderous riff or the catchy melodies; each song is fortified with intricate guitar fills that bring them to life like on “Solid Gold,” “One Way Ticket,” and “Japanese Prisoner of Love.” Justin’s voice is the cherry on top of the cake combined with lyrics that strike a perfect balance of comedy, double entendres, and poetic prose. When it all comes together live… it’s explosive!
Some of the biggest cheers of the night were reserved for their older songs like “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” as well as my personal favorite “Growing on Me.”
The venue was loud; the band looked great and gave an outstanding performance. Their show provided as much fun as one could have with their clothes on!
Love Is Only a Feeling
One Way Ticket
All the Pretty Girls
Buccaneers of Hispaniola
Every Inch of You
Stuck in a Rut
Get Your Hands Off My Woman
Growing on Me
Japanese Prisoner of Love
I Believe in a Thing Called Love
I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) (The Proclaimers cover) (Partial – Used Fan’s Phone for Lyrics)
Love on the Rocks With No Ice