Monday, May 2, 2016

The Darkness at Irving Plaza

Justin Hawkins
Vocalist Justin Hawkins was born in Chertsey, England, and studied music technology at college, wrote advert jingles, and fronted a heavy metal band called the Commander before forming the Darkness with his guitarist brother Dan Hawkins in 1999 in Lowestoft, England. The Darkness' debut album in 2003 won three Brit awards and sold over three million copies. Two years later, Justin completed drug and alcohol recovery and then quit the band in 2006. As a result, the remaining members formed Stone Gods in 2007, and Justin Hawkins in 2008 started another band, Hot Leg. In 2011, the four original band members of the Darkness reunited. The band presently consists of the Hawkins brothers, original bassist Frankie Poullain and new drummer Rufus Taylor, son of Queen's Roger Taylor. The Darkness' fourth album, Last of Our Kind, was released on June 2, 2015.

At Irving Plaza tonight, the Darkness dressed like a 1970s tribute band and sounded much like a glam rock band from that era. The concert would have seemed like a Steel Panther parody except that the songs and the musicianship successfully recreated the best elements of that time for a fresh and lively rock and roll show. Unlike most bands who feature their most album prominently in concert, the Darkness instead played most of its landmark debut album, Permission to Land, plus just two or three songs from the other three albums. The 16-song, 75-minute set was chock full of strong riffs, anthemic choruses and Justin Hawkins' unique high voice. More than the music, however, Hawkins was entertaining in an over-the-top way. Between songs, his humor was always in "on" mode, and he colored his performance with leaps from the drum riser, splits, stage diving and crowd surfing. The music was rocking but the showmanship was even more entertaining.

Visit the Darkness at