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THE DARKNESS at the Phoenix. Wednesday, February 1, 2012. Rating: NNN
After a brief stumble in their march to the holy hills of rock glory, the Darkness appear to have found their footing again.
The British four-piece were welcomed back to Toronto with a sold-out concert in a venue that, if this were 1976, would only hold only a fraction of the 60,000 screaming fans who would love this band.
The Darkness had keys to the rock throne around 2004 when Permission to Land touched down with I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a monster hit that closed Wednesday's gig. But after a sub-par second album and Hawkins hitting the eject button for drug rehab the lights went out on the Darkness' shooting star.
Not that Wednesday night wasn't noisy (and messy, thanks to the Phoenix's plastic cup policy). Darkness faithful pointed stageward with every pound of the kick drum in opener Black Shuck, as svelte and tattooed frontman Justin Hawkins hit his incredibly-high falsettos while jumping, running and prancing, evidence he's been spending more time with personal trainers than coke dealers in recent years.
Toronto's gig came on the same day the band unveiled new single Nothing's Gonna Stop Us from a yet unnamed new album. Hawkins solicited title ideas from the boozy crowd and probably immediately regretted the decision when "The Darkness Fucking Rock" turned out to be the only suggestion.
Played mid-set, Nothing's Gonna Stop Us stays in line with the Darkness' fixation on Queen and other 70s rock royals. Another new song, Everybody's Having a Good Time, had less pop but contained a long enough AC/DC-style breakdown that Hawkin could change into his unitard for the remainder of the show.
The sight of Hawkins in a pleather onesie seemed to really invigorate a waning crowd and soon enough they were rewarded with I Believe in a Thing Called Love, which hits after the opening chords like a thunderous hammer of the Gods.