Man, oh man there’s nothing like seeing THE DARKNESS live. They were back here in Philly on a gorgeous evening at The Trocadero Theater recently, which was a nice step up size-wise from the venue they were at last tour. Plus, I knew I’d be hanging with Mykel Dodson (aka MYKE WITH A “Y”), who took the killer photos you see before you, and his lovely wife Sheri. This was their first time checking out the band in a live setting. It was my fourth, and I know what they bring to the table, so as excited as Mykel and Sheri were, I was equally as excited for them.
After drinks at the upstairs bar it was time to head downstairs and take it all in. At 9 pm sharp the house lights dimmed and BAM! It was time for THE DARKNESS to grab Philly by the balls for an 18-song set! Starting off with “Open Fire” from 2015’s Last of Our Kind album, it was clear the group was hell bent on ramping up the energy level in this place. “Love Is Only a Feeling” had all the arms in attendance swaying back and forth in unison before latest record Pinewood Smile made its first appearance of the night with new song “Southern Trains”.
A trio of classics was up next as “Black Shuck”, “One Way Ticket”, and “Givin’ Up” ripped through the building. Singer/guitarist Justin Hawkins was still in perfect voice 15 years later, and when bassist Frankie Poullain pulled out the cowbell to start that there “One Way Ticket” the crowd went ballistic. One of the most intense tunes of the evening was another new one, “All the Pretty Girls.” Drummer Rufus Taylor was on fire, and guitarist Dan Hawkins was letting it rip. And when it came time for that high-pitched wail after the hooks Justin didn’t hesitate for a second. Fuckin’ Hell, this band was putting on a clinic!
The last two records were represented nicely with “Barbarian” followed by “Buccaneers of Hispaniola”, then Justin got the crowd going once again with an a capella sing-along before one of my all time favorites from debut Permission to Land in “Friday Night.” The lone representative from 2012’s Hot Cakes was “Every Inch of You”, another one I love, and I swear, every time that riff fires up it gets stuck in my head for days and days. New song “Solid Gold” was killer, and the lyrics are a telling tale about life in the music biz, and what the labels want from these bands. And now, to close out the regular set…
“Stuck In a Rut”, “Get Your Hands Off My Woman”, and “Growing On Me” were a combo of body blows from Permission to Land that all of us absorbed eagerly, simply not wanting the show to end. The band bid us goodnight, and we played the waiting game. During this time I ran into my friend and frequent A&GS contributor Inquisitor and it was nice to catch up. The boys came back and launched into “Japanese Prisoner of Love”, one of my faves from Pinewood Smile, before bringing the house down with the megahit that started it all, “I Believe In a Thing Called Love.” Do I even need to tell you how batshit everyone was going? I should hope not.
It was now time for one last number and perennial closer “Love On the Rocks With No Ice” stepped up to the plate and hit a homer. Once again the crowd was waving hands back and forth, and before long Justin was crowd riding on someone’s shoulders while doing his guitar solo. Then we had a really cool call and response before going back into the hook. And then…well then the show was over. Which always sucks, because a live performance from THE DARKNESS is always, ALWAYS legen…wait for it…DARY!! When they come to your city, do yourselves a favor and fucking GO SEE THEM!!
LIVE IMAGES: MYKE WITH A “Y”
LIVE WORDS: THE MAESTRO