Faced with a rapidly increasing fanbase and a sold-out crowd,
The Darkness were forced to move their Sunday night show from
Detroit’s intimate St. Andrew’s Hall to Pontiac’s
Clutch Cargos to accommodate the demand. It being The
Darkness’s first-ever show in Detroit, little did organizers
know that the English old-school rockers could not be contained by
any venue.

Music Reviews
1980 is the new 2004. (Courtesy of Atlantic)

With music made for arena rock, The Darkness’s falsetto
frontman and guitarist Justin Hawkins was introduced to the crowd
as a giant silhouette behind a sheet stretching across the stage.
Larger than life they seemed, and the high-energy, high-pitched
show that followed proved it.

With Justin’s little brother Dan, wearing his trademark
Thin Lizzy T-shirt, on guitar, Ed Graham providing the clap-along
backbeat and Fu Manchu-wearing, Zoolander look-alike Frankie
Poullain pounding the bass, The Darkness immediately strutted their
chops on an instrumental guitar romp. The waifish Justin then threw
off his shirt, leaving on only his leather pants and silver
sneakers, leading into “Black Shuck,” the lead track
from the gold-album selling debut, Permission to Land.

Echoing their major influence, Queen, and a few 1980s hair-rock
bands to boot, The Darkness have endured a difficult road in the
United States on their way to being taken seriously. With three
retro-costume changes throughout the night, including a silver
jumpsuit with feathers, Justin surely mimicked a kind of rock long
forgotten and unloved. Still, they are no joke, and because they
take their having rock‘n’roll fun seriously, it makes
for serious enjoyment.

Before launching the band’s new single, “Love Is
Only a Feeling,” Justin put up a lighter and asked the crowd,
“You know why we do this? Because it’s power-ballad
time.” Not everyone in the audience responded with a Zippo,
but practically all sang along, proving The Darkness has a loyal
following not present solely for the MTV single.

Still, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” had to be
played, started off by a crowd-led chorus before Justin prologued
the track with one of many awe-inspiring blues riffs on his
sparkling pink guitar. A widespread handclap session followed along
to the music, to a song that will soon be the ultimate karaoke
hit.

Combining Freddie Mercury vocals and Brian May guitar chops,
Justin was in the spotlight all night, and encore-closer
“Love on the Rocks With No Ice” sealed the deal. The
word “love” being spelled out behind him one letter at
a time, Justin first kicked out a two-minute guitar solo on the
back of a fan while being carried around the venue floor and then
retreated to the stage for back-and-forth falsetto vocal exercises
with the crowd. Justin was practically a one-man show, and the
crowd was fortunate to be so intimate with him, because next time
The Darkness just might find themselves contained by Ford
Field.

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