Glam rockers The Darkness brought their Tour de Prance to Brooklyn Steel on April 20th. Beloved since they first burst onto the scene in 2003 with their mega-hit “I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” The Darkness has amassed a fanbase of epic proportions over their decades-long career, one whose enthusiasm hasn’t waned.
Made up of frontman Justin Hawkins, guitarist Dan Hawkins, bassist Frankie Poullain, and drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor, The Darkness is theatrical and over-the-top. They’re a band of superlatives, vibrant and entertaining, animated and hilariously embellished. They’re absolutely, purposely ridiculous, bordering on the absurd. With infectious hooks that sink their claws permanently into your ears and an undaunted, almost impossible falsetto, The Darkness stands alone. They are the absolute best at everything, and they let you know it (in fact, sometimes they’ll outright say it). Their energy is unmatched and incomparable. They’ve carved out a special place for themselves in the music industry, unique enough to have bested even the most remote of rivals; they simply, spectacularly, don’t have any.
Most musicians are afraid to be seen as anything but serious artists. The Darkness proves you can have both talent and fun at the same time without one detracting from the other.
As the band first made their entrance, Justin Hawkins, in his trademark leopard-print, skintight bodysuit, walked the length of the stage, pausing inch by inch and blowing kisses in response to the deafening cheers of the crowd. Each member presented one another to the audience, grandly gesturing as if car salesmen showcasing a brand new vehicle. In response, the fans raised their drinks, toasting to the band as Hawkins dramatically threw his hands in the air, striking a pose. Ripping into “Open Fire,” off 2015’s Last of Our Kind, The Darkness filled the room with joyous, driving, hard-hitting noise as the night kicked off.
Hawkins hammed it up throughout the set, cracking jokes, running, leaping, doing handstands, unzipping the top of his bodysuit to reveal his chiseled, tattooed chest, donning accessories from fans in the audience (such as a pair of glasses, a fedora, and, best of all, a Darth Vader mask for drummer Taylor), and making his way, towards the end, down to a t-shirt and boxer shorts. Hawkins proved himself to be a true performer, both entertaining and powerful.
The setlist consisted of their greatest hits, with songs going all the way back to Permission to Land. There was, of course, one song in particular that the audience held their breath all night for. When the encore arrived, Hawkins became dictatorial, commanding the entire crowd to jump. He wasn’t easily satisfied; it took more than a few tries until he finally relented, playing as everyone sang.
The Darkness could have left it at that; it was an excellent finish to an incredible show. But, being who they are, they took it to one last, even higher level: during “Love on the Rocks with No Ice,” Hawkins sat on the shoulders of a reluctant security guard, triumphantly playing guitar as he was walked through the crowd.
The Darkness will be releasing a live album, Live at Hammersmith, on June 15th.