The Darkness

House of Blues

April 09, 2004

A jumpsuit backed with brontosaurus scales covered in fuzz. Lead singer Justin Hawkins' costume selection was silly, but silly was fun.

British band The Darkness put the fun back in rock shows Friday night at The House of Blues. The British band was on their first U.S. tour, and all of their shows were sold out. Younger brother/guitarist Dan Hawkins, fu-manchued bassist Frankie Poullain, and drummer Ed Graham rounded out the band.

Local band Supagroup put the joie de vivre back into hard rock, but The Darkness weren't afraid to explore the bombast that made Led Zeppelin, Queen and Aerosmith so great. Justin rode piggy-back on a roadie through the crowd while playing guitar. He reinforced the proper way to hold and sway a lighter "aloft" before the band broke into power ballad "Love Is Only A Feeling." And then there's their swagger, big rock endings and penchant for arms-raised handclapping.

The curtain lifted, and the band went through a quick jam before breaking into "Black Shuck," the first song on their debut CD, Permission To Land. Their execution was great, but it was the bright lights and stacked amps that pushed me to headbang. Their guitar sound was a mix of AC/DC, Queen, and Weezer. The band played two new songs and all the songs off their album except the unrepenting power ballad "Holding My Own." Of course, the place went crazy when the band went into "I Believe In A Thing Called Love," their major U.S. hit. Seeing so many upraised arms clap in sync with the snare drum during the breakdown made me happy to be back at a theatrical rock show.

The floor area was packed and sweaty. It's a good thing there wasn't a fire. I've never seen so many people at a HOB show before, and I've never seen people standing in front of the box office asking for tickets.

The band had an after-party on the John James Audubon, so my friend Dane and I walked down to the river. Justin and Ed were surrounded by ten to fifteen girls as they boarded. Their own personal bodyguards. Dane works for the Steamboat Natchez, so he was able to get us onboard long enough to survey the surroundings, grab a free beer and notice some people doing coke in the bathroom.

Bad-ass concert, anyway.

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