The Darkness made a welcome return to the United States with the first stop of their Circuit Motorheart at Observatory North Park in San Diego.
It’s been about two years since darkness played a live show in America. Just like many other musical groups, their plans were dashed in 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of so many tours and festivals. The Darkness was ready to embark on their ironically named Easter is canceled To visit to support their 2019 album of the same name, when it all fell apart. But that was ancient history now.
Opening for The Darkness on this tour is the Nashville-based rock band The dead dead. These ladies rock and are a very pleasant surprise for those who visited at show time. The Dead Deads are McQueen on drums, Daisy on bass and Meta on guitar. It’s really a power trio, it rocks. They sound great and shouldn’t be missed. The Dead Dead are surely on the rise and worth supporting. The Dead Dead name their list of influences as Cage the Elephant and The Killers, Failure, Bjork, Led Zeppelin, Blue Oyster Cult, NOFX, Pavement, Pink Floyd, Queen, Weezer, Helmet, Cream, Beck and The Pixies.
But tonight was a party, The Darkness was on the loose again in America. It was obvious that given the energy of the fans gathered at the Observatory, everyone was very excited to see the band again. They were desperate to get a taste of their mix of classic rock, glam and camp, set to fat power chords, melodic guitar solos and falsetto vocals. The night was not without its awkward moments, with the band arriving in America literally the day before, as well as the crowd realizing they were at a rock concert yet again. It took a few songs for most viewers to get into the mood Justin Hawkins and the rest of the band were setting in the American ether. At one point, Justin instructed the willing crowd on a call-and-response the band is used to hearing in Europe when Justin recites the prose for the intro to the song “Barbarian.” Once the ice was broken, the group and the crowd had the sea legs and everyone had a great time.
Justin Hawkins is truly a marvel. It’s as if someone rolled up Freddie Mercury, Marc Bolan, David Bowie and Robert Plant, put them in a blender and pulled out Justin Hawkins with his English rock star pedigree in hand. Watching them play, it’s obvious that Justin is a showman with his own style of energy, guitar skills, footwork, slickness and vocal acumen. The whole band played a tight, hard set that had them bouncing, dancing and banging their heads. Every member of the band, the aforementioned vocalist and guitarist Justin Hawkins, guitarist Dan Hawkins, bassist Frankie Poullain and drummer Rufus Taylor, were beaming with effusive smiles and enjoying themselves. It was obvious to everyone present that the band and the fans were happy to be back and enjoying the music. San Diego was treated to a joyous “the boys are back” party. From the opening notes of the first song to the encore and performance of the track that launched them on the path to stardom “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”, the band ripped off the roof of the Observatory and let in The Darkness.
The Darkness have a great sense of humor in the British tradition as evidenced by their music videos, album covers, lyrics, song titles. They know just the right amount of camp to bring to the mix without going into Spinal Tap and becoming a parody of themselves.
If you want to catch a great rock show, The Darkness is here for you. See them before Engine core tour returns to Europe in May.