The Darkness Illuminated Los Angeles REVIEW+PHOTOS: THE DARKNESS @ FONDA THEATRE 3/29/18
LOS ANGELES, CA- “I just love a man in spandex,” says the young woman next to me. Her name is Hanna, she’s from England, and she’s probably 3 beers in as The Darkness front man Justin Hawkins flamboyantly springs around The Fonda Theater stage. Her ear-to-ear smile gleams in the blue and purple lighting and her expression is shared by the near full capacity audience who’ve come out to rock with a band that came from humble beginnings.
“We’re from the same town,” Hanna continues. “Lowestoft in the UK. It’s a beach town.” Wikipedia confirms its population is 71,000 and both Hanna and The Darkness have travelled all the way from there to Los Angeles.
The band, featuring two brothers: Justin and Dan Hawkins, opens their set with “Open Fire,” from their 2015 studio album Last of Our Kind. It’s an explosion of guitar riffs and Justin’s signature falsetto vocal acrobatics. And yes, he is indeed in an open chested, leopard print costume complete with leather straps and a lot of things dangling. 1980’s David Lee Roth’s wardrobe has nothing on him.
It could be said that The Darkness comes with a gimmick, but their sincere sound and punchy commitment to never breaking into a wink and smile proves that their sound, a blend of hair metal, pop-blues, and even a sprinkle of thrash is genuine. The band has never wavered since their debut album Permission To Land and their 2003 megahit “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”. And after hearing their set, I believe in a band called The Darkness.
Their performance is all about bravado and super clean instrumentation; the evidence of years of pledging to the art of straight up, British-American radio friendly metal rock and roll. By the time they perform “One Way ticket,” The Darkness has the crowd mesmerized and enchanted. The haze from the stage and the smoke from vapes have filled the air and the mood is dreamlike [and I’m still sober].
It’s hard not to be won over by their set. They cover the pantheon of their music catalogue with an anthemic sound that incites synchronized clapping and harmonizing form everyone. Backed by Jew-fro sporting bass player Frankie Poullain and dynamic drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor, The Darkness lights up The Fonda, punctuating their set with the song that made them famous: “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”
The funny thing is, I’m not even a huge fan of The Darkness, but after seeing them live, I am now a fan of their showmanship, their petro-filled stage performance, and their elegant and precise sound. They don’t rely on distortion as much as they do clarity, perfect musicianship, and of course, Justin’s signature voice that makes anyone want to slip on some tight leather, tease the hell out of her hair, and jump into scissor kicks.