Detroit, Michigan (April 13th, 2018) – On Friday the 13th, our thoughts often turn to horror movies and superstitions. Luckily for fans of The Darkness who ventured out to the Majestic Theater in Detroit this Friday the 13th, there were no signs of Jason. Instead, the Brits treated us to an hour and a half of high-octane in-your-face rock n’ roll on the latest stop of their aptly named “Tour de Prance”.
The Darkness is currently touring North America to support their 2017 release, Pinewood Smile. This is the band’s fifth studio album, and features vocals and guitars from brothers Justin and Dan Hawkins, the inimitable Frankie Poullain playing bass and Rufus Tiger Taylor, son of legendary Queen drummer Roger Taylor, on drums. Known for their glam-rock stylings and charismatic stage presence, a night with The Darkness guarantees to be simultaneously everything and nothing like you expected!
After an ear-shattering opening set from garage rockers Diarrhea Planet, (yes, that’s really the band’s name!), the crowd went wild when Dan Hawkins strode out on stage showing off his old school Thin Lizzy satin jacket, and The Darkness launched into “Open Fire”, from 2015’s Last Of Our Kind.
Leaving little to the imagination in his leopard print jumpsuit, Justin Hawkins belted out song after song in his wailing falsetto, prancing and prowling the stage in true rock-god form. The band rolled through a couple numbers from their debut album Permission To Land, and shared some laughs with the audience, often at their own expense as Justin lived up to every rock n’ roll frontman stereotype strutting across the stage. At one point, he toured the venue perched upon the shoulders of a security guard, shredding on his guitar as they walked him through the adoring crowd. Tunes from their latest release seemed to be well received by the fans, as they enthusiastically sang along with “Solid Gold” and “All The Pretty Girls” just as much as they did with the older, more well known singles.
A fan tossed a trucker hat emblazoned with Saginaw onto the stage asking him to wear it, so Justin obliged, tucking his hair into a ponytail pulled through the back of the hat before signing it and returning it to the lucky fan after the song ended. Later he continued his fascination with fashion by borrowing three denim jackets from the crowd, most covered in patches from Judas Priest, KISS, AC/DC and the like, and proceeded to sport all three at once!
Giving kudos to their parents for bringing them up on rock n’ roll, Justin asked the kids in attendance to sing along with him on the next song. With a pair of 9 and 12 year old fans from the front row watching from their parent’s shoulders, he politely reminded them “You don’t have to sing the swear words, of course!” as the band started into “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” with it’s f-bomb laden chorus. This was followed by the set closer, “Growing On Me”, before the rowdy crowd cheered the band back for a three song encore. The night wrapped up with “Japanese Prisoner of Love”, the classic“I Believe in a Thing Called Love” and a blistering extended rendition of “Love on the Rocks With No Ice”.
There’s something undeniably gratifying about sharing the energy of a live band that is truly enjoying performing, and The Darkness doesn’t disappoint at all on this level. All smiles throughout the show, Justin engaged the audience and captivated our attention with every move. Scorching guitar riffs from Dan, and a monstrous beat provided by Frankie and Rufus proved these guys have the talent to back up their on-stage shenanigans. The music was tight, driving and unrelentless, harkening back to 70’s arena rock and 80’s hairband cliches all while managing to not become a parody of themselves. With all their campy humor and grandiose guitar-driven rock, you’ll definitely want to add a live show from The Darkness to your bucket list before you head off to Camp Crystal Lake this summer!
Senior Photographer: Kelly Harmer
Senior Journalist: Kate Sumbler