“Shut up and bounce! If you bounce, we will play your favorite Darkness song, if you don’t… we will play nothing at all!! Now Bounce!!” The Darkness ringmaster and general musical jester Justin Hawkins commanded the house at Las Vegas House of Blues to bounce, and… they bounced. And bounced. And bounced. And sang, and drank, and yelled for more.
It’s been a minute since the Darkness hit the states with a tour and some new music, the band was prior in Vegas in 2012 with a band reunion and the first tour in close to 6 years. With the release of their latest cd, Last of Our Kind last fall, the band is on their Back in the USSA tour and in rare form with Justin Hawkins front and center and full of piss and vinegar at the Vegas show, and the crowd welcomed the band with open arms and plenty of energy and enthusiasm of their own. Back in the fold is vocalist and guitarist Justin Hawkins, guitarist and brother Dan Hawkins and bassist Frankie Poullain, and new to the tribe is drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor, son of Roger Taylor. Yes, that Roger Taylor, and the resemblance leaves no doubt.
It’s not without irony that the Darkness and Hawkins now call Taylor part of the family, the six degrees start early on in the bands incarnation with Hawkins’ obvious nods to Freddie Mercury in his vibrant personality, theatrics and operatic stylizations. The connection continued when Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker worked on the Darkness’ One Way Ticket cd back in 2005. The band crashed and burned shortly after with vocalist Hawkins on hiatus for rehab, before leaving altogether in 2006, but not done yet, exit to 2011,… and the Darkness is together again with the original band back intact and performing at Download Festival with special guest Queen’s Brian May. The band released a string of singles before their 2012 next release Hot Cakes, and then on to release a new cd Last of out kind in 2015, now with Rufus Tiger Taylor (son of Queen’s Roger Taylor) on drums. Six degrees? Maybe 5 degrees but who’s counting.
In any case, The Darkness is back and the show couldn’t be better. Hawkins dominated the stage, prancing and powering through a set with the expected hits and some new too, all while interacting and yelling at the crowd as if he were in a room of friends at a very loud party. At times Hawkins threw the mic out to people in the front row who screamed just how far they traversed practically barefoot in the snow to arrive at the show, or their complete adoration of Hawkins, or maybe just drunken joy at being there. In between a few jokes concerning empty alcoholic canisters and paper bags (you had to be there) directed at a few rowdy guests, a dildo of a birthday cake for Poullain, and mutual admiration between Hawkins and his fans over his new outfit for the night, we got some amazing music and an exorbitant and outlandish show. After years of seemingly finding their way back to the light, the Darkness emerge again as bright shining stars.Las Vegas Setlist Barbarian Growing on Me Mudslide Black Shuck Roaring Waters Given’ Up One Way Ticket Love is Only a Feeling Friday Night English Country Garden Every Inch of You Get Your Hands Off My Woman Stuck in a Rut I Believe in a Thing Called Love Encore: Concrete Love on the Rocks with No Ice