British heavy glam rockers, The Darkness, transported the electrifying spirit of their iconic debut album to Detroit’s St Andrews Hall on a crisp Sunday evening, October 15th, marking a milestone in rock history with their Permission to Land 20th Anniversary Tour. It was two decades ago when this monumental record achieved a remarkable 4x Platinum status in the UK, largely fueled by the anthemic hit, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.” For their current tour, The Darkness generously gifted their fans with a performance of the entire album, sprinkled with some of the album’s B-sides, as well as their distinctive rendition of Radiohead’s “Street Spirit (Fade Out).”
The show ignited with a fiery blast as the band launched into “Black Shuck,” the opening track from their iconic debut. From the very first chord, the Detroit crowd was swept into a whirlwind of rock ‘n’ roll energy, singing along with unwavering fervor and raising their hands high in the air. The band kept the momentum surging with “Get Your Hands Off My Woman,” a song that saw lead singer Justin Hawkins momentarily halt the music to engage the audience. With a mischievous grin, he rallied the crowd to sing back, after which, he humorously pointed out one audience member who appeared conspicuously unengaged, quipping, “We have one of the nation’s elite lighting designers, and every time I point the microphone in your direction, he lights you. So, when you’re not singing, I can f****** see that you’re not singing.”
After performing the third song in order they broke it up with a couple of B-sides, The Best of Me and Makin’ Out. This started with Hawkins switching up his long-sleeved collar shirt for a T-shirt with the saying “Who Ate All The P****” and then going shirtless to the delight of most of the women in the crowd.
The show continued on with more songs from the album, and occasionally guitar tech Softy stepping in as a fifth member of the band. Justin Hawkins did a great job engaging the crowd like a good frontman should. He loves to joke with the fans and tells them he’s really not a nice guy in public. I’m pretty sure he’s kidding. The guys in the band seem to have a lot of fun and Justin is known for playing guitar while going through the crowd on the shoulders of one of the crew or security.
As the main set drew to a close, the band played their most well-known hit “I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” the colossal anthem that rocketed the band to popularity. The floor vibrated with the collective energy of the audience, who leaped in unison while belting out the lyrics. The floor’s once legendary bounce had been subdued recently with renovations to the structural supports beneath. Despite this, the place was still shaking like only a show at St Andrews can.
For the encore, The Darkness returned to the stage in playful fashion, donning boxers and robes as if they had just taken a quick, shower. It was a comical sight that suited the band’s signature blend of humor and rock ‘n’ roll excess. Dan Hawkins, usually the guitarist, assumed the role of drummer, while drummer Rufus Taylor handled the bass, and bassist Frankie Poullain serenaded the audience with his acoustic guitar. Meanwhile, their guitar tech Softy contributed the ethereal sound of the Mellotron on “I Love You 5 Times,” casting a spell over the crowd causing them to sway in unison to the music.
The evening ended with “Love on the Rocks with No Ice,” a fitting conclusion to an unforgettable night. The fans in the packed venue were left yearning for more as The Darkness departed the stage. Hopefully we don’t have to wait too long for a return. The Darkness’s exuberant performance was a reminder of the sheer joy that rock ‘n’ roll can bring.
Opening act Paris Monster, a duo from Brooklyn, NY, performed what’s best described as garage rock meets funk. Vocalist/drummer/keyboardist Josh Dion and bassist/synth player Geoff Kraly put on a great show with a big sound that belies their status as a two-man band. Playing multiple instruments, the two sounded heavy while also having a funky groove to their music and impressed me with their musical chops. The early crowd was really into them and I have to say, I’d like to hear more of them.
All photos by Dan Boshart
The Darkness Setlist:
- Black Shuck
- Get Your Hands Off My Woman
- Growing on Me
- The Best of Me
- Makin’ Out
- Givin’ Up
- Love Is Only a Feeling
- Curse of the Tollund Man
- Stuck in a Rut
- How Dare You Call This Love?
- Street Spirit (Fade Out)
- (Radiohead cover)
- Holding My Own
- Friday Night
- I Believe in a Thing Called Love
- I Love You 5 Times
- (Justin on vocals, Dan on… more )
- Love on the Rocks With No Ice