The Darkness At Club Nokia
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By Jamie Harvey
I was standing at the front of Club Nokia shrouded in darkness. As Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town" blasted through the speakers, the lights went up and four tall, lanky figures emerged onstage dressed in variations of leather and cloth. It was my third time seeing British glam rock band the Darkness this year, and they opened with "Every Inch Of You," the lead track from their latest album, Hot Cakes.
Seeing the Darkness live is like seeing an arena show on the small stage — they've just got that presence. I consider frontman Justin Hawkins to be my generation's Freddie Mercury. Next came a pair of songs from their debut album, 2003's Permission To Land, "Black Shuck" and "Growing On Me," the latter of which had the crowd clapping on command. "One Way Ticket" featured a cowbell intro that typifies the band's tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.
"Nothing's Gonna Stop Us" could be the theme song for the Darkness, who are in full force after news of a near breakup emerged in 2006. Hawkins introduced the crowd-favorite "Get Your Hands Off My Woman" by revealing it's a song about rage.
Aside from eloquently singing about rage, the Darkness have penned some fantastic love songs that inject serious and straightforward thoughts with an element of humor. They performed "Love Is Not The Answer" and "Love Is Only A Feeling," both of which speak to the lighter side of one of the world's most complicated emotions.
Next was "Friday Night," a song about pining for the days of simple high school love. "God, the way she moves me to write bad poetry," Hawkins sang. For their only cover of the night, the Darkness performed Radiohead's "Street Spirit (Fade Out)," which also appears on Hot Cakes. While covers can be tricky, the Darkness handled it phenomenally. The melancholy nature of the original song surrendered to driving guitars and Hawkins' soaring vocals. "Fade out again!" he commanded.
"Kiss my arse, kiss my arse goodbye," we sang as the Darkness played their most motivating song, "Stuck In A Rut." Dan Hawkins' guitar playing on this song was especially brilliant. Before leaving the stage, the band performed their most popular song, "I Believe In A Thing Called Love," which had us clapping and singing along.
The encore featured two of my favorite Darkness songs, "Hazel Eyes" and "Love On The Rocks With No Ice." The end of the night was accompanied by Hawkins' usual trek around the floor while straddling a security guard's shoulders. I find it interesting that the Darkness closed with these songs because, comparatively, they aren't as upbeat. But perhaps they were preparing us to go back into the real world.
"Every Inch Of You"
"Growing On Me"
"She's Just A Girl, Eddie"
"One Way Ticket"
"Nothing's Gonna Stop Us"
"Get Your Hands Off My Woman"
"Love Is Not The Answer"
"Love Is Only A Feeling"
"Everybody Have A Good Time"
"Street Spirit (Fade Out)" (Radiohead cover)
"Stuck In A Rut"
"I Believe In A Thing Called Love"
"With A Woman"
"Love On The Rocks With No Ice"
(Jamie Harvey lives in Los Angeles and is the rock community blogger for GRAMMY.com. She has attended and written about more than 500 shows since 2007. You can follow her musical adventures at www.hardrockchick.com.)