The Darkness 5/18 Toad’s Place New Haven Review/Photos | The Audio Perv
20 May
2012

By Matt Arena

Very few bands can pull off being ridiculous. When they try, it’s usually weak attempts at being over-the-top or wacky that just feels forced. Fortunately there are bands out there like The Darkness. They manage to be ridiculous, but pull it off in the most awesome way imaginable. After calling it quits to form new projects in 2006, they reformed early last year and currently have a new album, ‘Hot Cakes’, slated for release in the late summer. The band got a big boost in the form of a primetime ad during The Super Bowl, seemingly reminding people that The Darkness had reformed. Add to that the massive exposure they’ll get as support for Lady Gaga’s upcoming UK tour, and it’s clear that The Darkness are back in a big way. Continuing the slew of shows started early this year, they brought their version of glam rock to Toad’s Place in New Haven, CT.

Booked as support for this brief stint of the US tour were Belgian rockers, The Black Box Revelation. This garage rock two-piece has enjoyed success overseas, opening for acts like Eagles of Death Metal and Iggy Pop, all while releasing two well-received studio albums. The packed crowd at Toad’s Place gave them headliner’s treatment, as many in the front row were dancing wildly to the band’s undeniably groovy sounds. Coming off like the bastard child of a modern blues and 90’s grunge band, The Black Box Revelation are able to make an incredible amount of noise with just two guys. Lead singer/guitarist Jan Paternoster oozes an old school rock vibe as he crunched out the dirty blues riffs and crooned the equally catchy choruses. Backed by drummer Dries Van Dijck, who bashed on his kit louder than though possible, the band’s tunes were no doubt well received by the audience as they exited the stage to cheers from almost every person in attendance. They have a new album coming out next week, and without a doubt are worth checking out.

After a brief changeover, the house lights went down as The Darkness came out to what can only be described as a garbled transmission from an alien species as they made their way through a thick layer of fog to their instruments. Almost as soon as the guitar was in his hand, guitarist Dan Hawkins launched into the instantly recognizable riff of ‘Black Shuck,’ a screamer of a track off the band’s debut album Permission to Land. Working as a perfect opening track, it set the tone for the rest of the night with loud guitars and high-pitched screams. The Darkness played an array of songs off both their studio albums, as well as a select choice of new songs from their forthcoming album. Songs like the newly released single, ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us,’ were received incredibly well by the crowd, who even sang along to the brand new tune. Proving why they’re still a force to be reckoned with, Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins provided a slew of energy as he bounced almost non-stop around the stage. Leaning over the stage’s edge into the crowd numerous times, Hawkins challenged the crowd to meet his seemingly boundless level of energy. And they did. As he dipped the mic into the crowd, they didn’t miss a beat, yelling back the well-known choruses to hits like ‘Growing on Me’ and ‘Love is Only a Feeling.’

One might think The Darkness would be one of those bands people came to see only knowing their one big hit (in this case said hit would be, ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love), but the crowd was packed with hardcore fans who knew almost every word to every song. For a band that only has two studio albums, they sure gave the people their money’s worth. Cranking out 20 songs in total, including a wicked cover of Radiohead’s Street Spirit, they took this opportunity to showcase 2 more new songs to give fans a taste of what Hot Cakes will sound like. The older material certainly wasn’t ignored either, with a healthy cut of tracks of their massively successful debut, Permission to Land. Though it may seem cliché, the highlight of the night had to be ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love.’ It’s hard not to be blown away by a song that can send the crowd into a frenzy with a mere tease of a few notes on the guitar. The entire venue was literally bouncing, as even the stranglers near the back were jumping along with the rest of the crowd. During the final song of the night, ‘Love on the Rocks with No Ice’ Justin Hawkins jumped on the back of a roadie and played the intricate guitar solo in the midst of the crowd. This perfectly embodied what makes The Darkness such great live performers. They’re off the wall, full of energy, unpredictable, and are still able to play on one of the most entertaining sets you will ever see.

Setlist:
Black Shuck
Growing On Me
Best of Me
One Way Ticket
Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us
Get Your Hands Off My Woman
Out of this World
Holding My Own (acoustic)
Love is Only a Feeling
Concrete
Friday Night
Every Inch of You
Is it Just Me
Street Spirit (Fade Out)
With a Woman
Givin Up
Stuck in a Rut
I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Hazel Eyes
Love on the Rocks with No Ice

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