15th of October 2022
By James Murphy
Almost 20 years after their multi-million selling debut album landed, The Darkness lit up the Thebarton Theatre stage once more with a set mostly drawing from their 2003 behemoth, but with selections from their other six albums sprinkled in. Front man Justin Hawkins may have cut his hair off and grown a mo, a la Freddie Mercury, but he still retains his power to captivate. They were supported by The Southern River Band- imagine The Darkness, but fronted by an ocker, filthy mulleted, leather pant wearing tradie with meticulous comedic timing; that they almost outshined The Darkness with their on-stage energy bodes well for this Perth band’s future.
Following their multi-platinum selling debut release, ‘Permission to Land’, glam-revivalists The Darkness were on the cusp of becoming the biggest band on the planet; cue a disappointing sophomore album, rehab and a split. Time passed and the momentum was lost. The music scene moved on but that debut’s collection of hits have never aged. The band tactically interspersed newer songs with ‘Black Shuck’, ‘Get Your Hands Off My Woman’, ‘Growing On Me’, ‘Love Is Only A Feeling’, ‘Givin’ Up’, ‘Stuck In A Rut’ and ‘Friday Night’, before closing the night with ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’.
After teasing their biggest hit with the opening riff, though, Justin chastened fans, telling them that if they respected him, they’d leave their phones in their pockets; respect was shown, and the floor rocked with bouncing. ‘Love on the Rocks with No Ice’ and ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End) served as the two song encore, with the singer touring the Thebaby floor with the obligatory guitar solo atop a local’s shoulders.
The band’s most recent release, Motorheart, has received positive critical reviews and contains all the elements that made them stars: pounding rhythms, ear worm choruses and frenetic fret board noodling. While tracks like ‘Welcome tae Glasgae’ and ‘Motorheart’ did not evoke a response from the casual nostalgia fans, there is still plenty for the cult and sub-culture followers to chew on; the band’s t-shirts sold out within an hour of doors opening. Tracks from earlier albums included ‘Japanese Prisoner of Love’, ‘Barbarian’ and ‘One Way Ticket’.
The Southern River Band’s Callum Kramer joined The Darkness for some cowbell during the encore, as Justin declared them stars who are destined for big things. Their support set, featuring new single `Chasing After Love (I’ll Burn A Hole In Your Shoes) and next single ‘Watch Out You’re Going To Hurt Somebody’ was a grin inducing surprise. The band seem set to take off.
It was a riff heavy night with The Darkness and some bright new stars.