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The Darkness at First Avenue, 1/29/13

The Darkness at First Avenue, 1/29/13
Photo by Marc Warnest

The Darkness
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The relatively full Tuesday night crowd swelled to the strains of Led Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Hop," Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town," and some sort of Irish-tinged choir intro music warmed the speakers. The fist-banging audience was already amped for another visit from Lowestoft's finest metal mavens, the Darkness. Although the band regaled First Avenue with its British style of hard rock virtuosity just last February, the delirious Mainroom audience managed to brandish a spirit and accompany the Hawkins brothers and crew through a galloping set that depended heavily on last year's party time opus, Hot Cakes -- as well as the band's signature material.

See Also:
The Darkness at First Avenue, 2/12/12

Looking like he had just had his way with Nikki Sixx's wardrobe closet, lead man Justin Hawkins immediately commanded the stage with his white Gibson. He delivered rapid-fire, brawny leads whose high notes were only topped with the metal god's screeching vocals. Bursting out with the opener "Every Inch of You" from Hot Cakes the Darkness then quickly retreated to some of their set standards, "Black Shuck" and "Growing On Me," both from the band's debut, Permission to Land that further electrified the crowd and keeping them singing along.

"We are so happy to be back here. I feel even more inflated with my own self-importance," Hawkins proclaimed unsarcastically in his British accent. "I'd like to perform for you a song that goes back to a time in my life that was very special to me, A time when I often wondered who was going to get me cocaine." Then, the band broke out another protypical anthem, "One Way Ticket".

Always in sync and connected musically, what's most exciting about the band themselves is the seemingly effortless approach that packs so much energy, making their music even stronger and more fun to experience live. Hawkins introduced his lead guitarist bro Dan thusly, "I was in the womb and he must have been next to me. It just took him like a year longer to come out." Justin would often trade licks and double up twin lead harmonies with his brother and longtime bandmate.

As experts of their craft, the Darkness combine so many styles of metal it can often be overwhelming but always gratifying. Jumping up on the drum riser for an extended head stand and later atop the speakers Hawkins is most impressive distributing his energy with the microphone often channeling the likes of Robert Plant and Rob Halford through "Friday Night" and "Living Each Day Blind."

Hawkins would further astound while pelvically thrusting his guitar along the stage monitors creating a harmoic squall with the instrument and ultimately lead the crowd in hand-clapping, waving side to side and call and response sing-alongs. Despite the unifying efforts, there appeared to be a scuffle or two in the sweaty and amped-up audience.

With "Givin' Up" and "Stuck in a Rut," the Darkness continued to exert their reverberating melodies, guitar and physical acrobatics up through the money shot of the night. "This is our big international hit. If you don't stand up, sing along and raise your fists, we're never coming back!" Hawkins warned as the band kicked in a hyper-charged "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" before leaving the stage and the crowd begging for more.

 

Wasting no time, returning to the stage Hawkins continued to thank the crowd, "We do this every day. Every fucking place we play there's huge crowds staring at these goofy U.K. boys with all these songs about love. Mostly about lust, really. Well, we must say, we truly appreciate you."

During "Best of Me" Hawkins had the crowd instagramming like motherfuckers as he sat atop a stage hand's shoulders Angus Young-style and paraded around the First Avenue Mainroom floor playing a guitar solo all the way until getting back to the stage. Speeding things up a bit for their version of Radiohead's "Street Spirit(Fade Out)" the band wrapped things up for the exhausted audience with "Love on the Rocks With No Ice."

Critic's Bias:
Though I own no spandex I've long been a metal head through and through and since last year's Mainroom show from the Darkness vowed to never miss them each time they blow through. They always deliver.

The Crowd:
Lots of mullets and a gang of ladies with P!nk style hairdos.

Overheard in the Crowd:
"The bass player looks like he could be a reject from Ace Frehley's band!"

Random Notebook Dump:
Surprised I recognized her with her clothes on, I couldn't help but notice a Burlesque dancer I used to see perform to "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" loving every minute of the night.

Setlist:
Every Inch of You
Black Shuck
Growing on Me
She Just a Girl, Eddie
One Way Ticket
Nothin's Gonna Stop Us
Get Your Hands Off My Woman
Love Is Only A Feeling
Friday Night
Concrete
Living Each Day Blind
Is It Just Me?
Givin' Up
Stuck In a Rut
I Believe In a Thing Called Love

Encore:
The Best of Me
Street Spirit(Fade Out)
Love on the Rocks With No Ice



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