Live review: The Darkness @ Summit Music HallBy Allen Klosowski | February 16th, 2012 | 2 comments
Could it be a resurgence of a resurgence? The Darkness single-handedly spearheaded a short comeback for glam rock with its album “Permission to Land” in 2003. So it is time to bring back glam rock, again? Based on Wednesday night’s crowd at Summit Music Hall, a resurgence couldn’t come soon enough.
Lead singer Justin Hawkins, who became famous by ironically portraying an over-the-top rendition of a 1980s glam-rock frontman, seemed to actually become the character in real life. Drugs and rehab followed, and the fake party lifestyle that turned into a real party lifestyle created casualties. Bassist Frankie Poullain left in 2005, the band’s second release “One Way Ticket to Hell… And Back” had disappointing sales and reviews, and by 2006 even Hawkins quit the band.
There were a few interesting side projects for Hawkins, such as his band Hot Leg. Hot Leg had much of the same vibe as the Darkness when I saw them at SXSW in 2009, but never gained similar critical success.
Now it’s 2012, the song “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” has been given new life by a Super Bowl commercial, and it’s flooding the airwaves again. The band is re-energized and taking on a reunion tour.
Hitting the stage in a form-fitting American flag, it is easy to see why Hawkins still draws such a large crowd. He is primed with energy, showcasing his ability to rip out falsetto lyrics while simultaneously playing complex yet fun guitar riffs, and at the same time making a large crowd feel intimate — at times specifically calling out and thanking audience members.
The band ripped through “Black Shuck,” “The Best of Me,” “One Way Ticket to Hell and Back,” “Nothing’s Going to Stop Us Now,” “Get Your Hands Off My Woman,” “Friday Night,” “Givin’ Up,” and a crowd-energizing version of “Stuck in a Rut.”
An unusual twist was the uptempo cover of Radiohead’s “Street Spirit,” which seemed to be lost on most of the crowd, but rewarding for those who recognized what they were hearing.
Hawkins asked the crowd to “Show me your thumbs” before launching into his biggest hit, “I Believe In a Thing Called Love.” Closing the show in encore with “Love On the Rocks with No Ice,” Hawkins jumped into the crowd to be carried around the audience while still playing the guitar. It was a moment to remember.
Opener Foxy Shazam primed the crowd, with frontman Eric Nally eating six lit cigarettes with the same gusto as the band used to provide crunchy guitar riffs.
Allen Klosowski is the social media strategist for The Denver Post. Check out his photos online.
Karson Brown is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.