I have a vision about how English glam rockers, The Darkness, came to be. It involves brothers Justin and Dan Hawkins (lead vocals and guitars, respectively) sitting at home, enjoying some liquid refreshment and watching the classic comedy “Spinal Tap”.
Daniel: “Oi, Justin, this is the funniest [expletive deleted] movie I think I’ve ever seen!”
Justin: “Daniel, my brother, you are correct. Something else, I think a band like that in real life could actually sell some records.”
Both: “You thinking what I’m thinking?!?!”
And The Darkness born.
This story is totally apocryphal, but after enjoying an evening with The Darkness in Salt Lake City on April 6, 2018, I’m more convinced than ever that the story should be true. From the moment the gold lamé suit worn by bassist Frankie Poullain first walked onto the stage, the modest but enthusiastic crowd enjoyed The Darkness’s unique mixture of humor and hard-rock riffs with equal displays of head-banging and grins.
The humor, a mixture of the self-deprecating and the outrageously boastful, “It took 20 years of hard work to produce the majesty you see before you tonight”, made the in-between banter as enjoyable as the songs. At different times, Justin Dawkins passed hats, glasses and even sheet music back and forth between himself and the crowd. The incident with the sheet music was particularly enjoyable as Hawkins opened up the book to the next song and exclaimed, “That’s not how we play it!” Then he gathered his mates together and the played the song, not as they typically do, but according to the sheet music in the book. It was a genuinely hilarious moment.
If The Darkness were just funny, they would be a novelty act but wouldn’t have much staying power. However, the band can play. From the opening, “Open Fire” to the catchy “One Way Ticket to Hell…and Back” to their encore hit, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.” The riffs and hooks came a-plenty and with an almost Queen-esque approach to harmony. And for those who wonder whether Hawkins really does hit notes that high, I can confirm he does, and can only muse as to whether his painted-on leopard print jump suit helped.