The Darkness at the Phoenix, January 12. Attendance: sold out. Tickets: $15.50. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
You gotta hand it to the darkness. Even though they beg, borrow and steal - from Queen, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Britpop, 70s rock, the Cars (in a major way) and on and on - they really don't sound like anyone else. It all comes together to form a unique sonic experience that leaves you scratching your head.
I'd been warned by Justin Hawkins last time they came to town that there'd be none of the much-talked-about David Lee Roth jumps, flips and handstands; he got hurt, and, hell, it just ain't easy stuff to do - so I wasn't expecting it.
But Hawkins and posse rocked the Phoenix like it was a big-ass fuckin' arena, complete with overhead clapping, leading the crowd in a session of chanting "You fuckin' rock" and holding the mike out into the room so folks could sing along. And there were even a few jumps. So, y'know, at least he was tryin'.
Hawkins came out in a pair of fabulous vinyl-or-something pants and wasted no time whipping his excuse for a shirt off. Costume changes into even more fabulous jumpsuits were to follow. He announced that he'd recently pierced his knob, and slagged the States, since the album apparently hasn't done quite so well there as it has here.
Hawkins, however, isn't much of a rock vocalist.
In the medium range, he tends to sound like a cross between Robert Smith and Ric Ocasek, with a little Britpoppy whine. Perhaps this is why he leans so much - just a tad too much - toward his falsetto. But he is surely a guitar player first.
And there was much showcasing of musical talent, with both Hawkins and his brother, Dan Hawkins , noodling away, and plenty of instrumental interludes to add that theatrical element.
'Tis true, the Darkness can really rock a room. It was quite impressive. But there's still that weird joke element to the whole thing that makes it a tad strange. Are we laughing with them or at them, and where do we go from here?
A piano. That's my suggestion. What they need is a bloody piano.