Gig Reviews

The Darkness, Palace Theatre, Melbourne – 09/05/2012

Fresh from slaying the same venue the night before, this sucker-for-extravagant-rock journo returned to the Palace Theatre last night for the second instalment of The Darkness‘ two-night stand in Melbourne. The reformed naughties UK rock sensations were as tight as ever in their first show, so I was curious to see if they could churn out a similar – if not better – performance the next day.

One department in which there was a definite improvement was the support act. Following the terrible selection of some jam band who only sang two verses during their entire set the night before, upcoming young hard rockers Strangers greeted punters with some boisterous tunes. Had I known they were on tonight, I would have turned up earlier and caught more than just the last three songs.

With some oh-so-fitting build-up tracks like Thin Lizzy’s The Boys are Back in Town and something that sounded like an outer-space superhero’s theme song, the band burst on stage with Black Shuck and Growing on Me…and it felt like it was 2004 all over again. Both the Hawkins brothers strutted about, wailing away on their guitars; Frankie Poullain oozed coolness on bass; and Ed Graham acted like a human drum machine with his pounding beats.

The setlist was identical to the first night – filled with killer tracks from previous records Permission To Land (Get Your Hands Off My Woman, Love Is Only A Feeling) and One Way Ticket To Hell… And Back (One Way Ticket, Is It Just Me?).  Their turbo-charged cover of Radiohead’s Street Spirit (Fade Out) and a scattering of new songs from forthcoming album Hot Cakes also featured – with most of the new stuff containing plenty of grunt and falsetto.

Other shining moments included: Justin’s solo acoustic take on Holding My Own; the duo of Givin’ Up and Stuck in a Rut, replicated back to back just like it sounds on the record; and Justin silencing the whole crowd before breaking into the pandemonium of I Believe in a Thing Called Love. Oh, and he also did a slightly grandiose crowd surf across the dance floor on his roadie’s shoulders, belting out solos and playing the guitar behind his back during closer Love on the Rocks with No Ice – with a whole lot of singalongs and mucking around after that.

But by far the funniest moment was when, on leading a sing-a-long to introduce Friday Night, Justin collected quite a decent amount of clothing from hardcore fans. At first, he whacked on a bloke’s grey singlet and a red feather boa…before all the dolled-up punters hurled wigs, headbands and over-sized bras his way. Prior to the clothing avalanche, Justin also showed his support for local music by collecting a demo CD from a punter.

It was all part of a blistering extravaganza that whacked 1500 smiles on 1500 punters’ faces – and one which emphatically signalled The Darkness’ glorious rebirth as the biggest glam rock band of this millennium. But hey, it’s not as if the band don’t know it, as summarised by Justin’s definitive quote prior to their last song.

“We’ll see you all next time. Until then, tell your friends the fucking Darkness are back.”  

Thank you Mr. Hawkins, please come again soon.

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