Review: The Darkness @ The 9:30 Club, Washington DC

Photo by Nicole Geldart

When D.C., MD, VA, and NC residents heard that The Darkness, who hadn’t toured in the US in eight years, was slated to play a mid-week show at the 9:30 Club, tickets sold out almost immediately.  Fans (aka “Darklings”) had been hopelessly wishing on shooting stars for their favorite pop-rock-metal-pseudo-80’s band to reunite ever since their official break-up in 2006. Their dream had come true, and their day had arrived.

On this rainy Wednesday night in our nation’s capital, The Darkness definitely came to melt our faces off.  From Justin Hawkins’ high-pitched ear-thrilling shrill to his multiple wardrobe changes and impressive stage stunts (standing on his head on stage with legs in a spread eagle while singing, just to name one), this performance proved to be everything I expected and more — pure in-your-face rock-n-roll with a splash of British humor on top.

The D.C. crowd, on the other hand, left more to be desired.  Let’s just say they didn’t exactly bring their “A” game to the club.  Their lackluster response time and time again after each song brought on feelings of embarrassment and shame.  “Hey Justin, I’m from NC…we know how to react after a kick-ass performance!”  Was the D.C. crowd’s reputation of being “hard to crack”, true?  Or, where they just totally lame to not share in my excitement?  It had been EIGHT years people, and The Darkness is a ridiculously good, fun-loving band that rocks out and looks damn good in skin-tight leather jumpsuits doing it!  What’s the issue here?  When the lighting guy back at the sound board is jamming out harder than the majority of the audience…well..D.C. I think we have a problem.  I digress…

Justin Hawkins, guitarist and lead singer of The Darkness — along with his brother and guitarist Dan Hawkins, bassist Frankie Poullain and drummer Ed Graham — ransacked the stage with playful vocals, powerful guitar riffs, chest pounding percussive bass lines, and endless energy.  They opened with Black Shuck and followed with favorites like One Way Ticket, Get your Hands off my Woman, Love is only a Feeling, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, and Love on the Rocks with no Ice (entire setlist).  The momentum of the show was like that of a steam engine, ever building up speed and propelling the audience further and further into their “Darkness” world.  Even when J. Hawkins slowed down to chat with the audience, I hung on to his every word, hoping desperately not to miss any of his funny English quips.  Is it the accent or the delivery that makes Brits so damn funny?  Perhaps it is both.

Towards the end of the set, J. Hawkins jumped into the audience atop the broad shoulders of security guards and ripped into one of his epic guitar solos, all while being groped and high-fived by surrounding fans.  The energy on the ground floor of the 9:30 Club finally hit its stride as the crowd got an opportunity to get close to this modern-day rock god.  This was just one of many examples throughout the show of how humble and down-to-Earth Hawkins is.  He became even more likeable with his willingness to leave the safety of the stage and venture out into a sea of his fans.  Despite the mediocre audience response (in my opinion), the band finished strong and never let on that they weren’t getting back what they were putting out there–a sign of true professionals in the music industry.

The Darkness Tour continues on into the Summer throughout the US, Australia, and Europe.  For more information on the band, please visit their website.

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Filed under Live Shows, Music, Review

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