Metropolis, Freo WA
March 11, 2020
Support: The Southern River Band
Easter may be cancelled, but it feels like Christmas has come early with the arrival of the spandex clad boys from the UK. The Darkness Australian tour kicked off on a sleepy Wednesday night in Freo. With the queue snaking out the door and well down South Terrace the feeling of excitement on the street was palpable. Once we made our way inside we were greeted with opening act The Southern River Band. Thornlie’s finest were in top form. I have to admit this is my first time seeing the mullet sporting rockers, I’d heard good things about them and from what I saw it was all true. Their brand of gritty rock ‘n roll blended with a larrikin sense of humour was a perfect fit for the headline act. As I said it was my first time seeing the band, but it won’t be the last.
But tonight the assembled masses were here to see the main event. With the room packed from stage to sound desk and the balcony fit to overflowing I squeezed into a good position. The lights dimmed, a roar went up as four silhouettes made their way out on to the stage. The Darkness had arrived!
Never ones to shy away from a challenge, the band are touring in support of their latest album by playing the whole thing. The opening set was all new stuff, and that’s fine with me. Easter Is Cancelled is as good as any they’ve released (our review here) and on par with their debut masterpiece Permission To Land. Having just about worn out my copy of the vinyl it was an absolute treat to hear the songs live. So tongue firmly in cheek the band tore straight into the opening track, ‘Rock n Roll Deserves to Die’. Justin Hawkins spotted a punter near the front wearing a slightly dodgy looking Akubra and beckoned for it. The hat was floated up stageward frisbee style with the enigmatic frontman deftly catching it in his right hand. So here we are, Stratocaster and spandex topped off with an Australian bush hat. The show must go on, so after a song or two the hat was returning to its owner.
If anyone only came for the old stuff they were well and truly in the minority as punters roared with approval at every song. There were a few smart arses in the crowd, let’s face it there always are so before taking on the whimsical ‘Deck Chair’, Justin Hawkins egged each dickhead on before destroying them with his wit. The song also saw bass player Frankie Poullain show us how handy he is on the keyboard. Dan Hawkins swapped his six string for two less showing his mad rhythm skills on the bass. Rufus Tiger Taylor stayed behind the drum kit because that’s where drummers belong…
As the final chords of an acoustic rendition of ‘Guitar Men’ rang so it was for the last of the new songs .. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! After a brief interlude the boys ripped into ‘One Way Ticket’ the main course was over but here comes dessert. The band ripped into hit after hit in a completely over the top rock n roll show. People were literally losing their shit. A punter next to me tried to tackle ‘Barbarian’ at the top of his voice with the delusion he could match Justin Hawkins falsetto. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone happier or so out of key.
Hawkins falsetto was matched it seems only by his sunburn courtesy of a few hours on Cottesloe beach – lots of aloe Justin, she’ll be right mate.
The show ended the only way it could, with a blistering version of their monster hit ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’. Loud, over the top, shredding guitars combined with impossibly high vocals, this encapsulates everything that is The Darkness
What better way to get over a lazy mid-week hump-day than watching The Darkness shitting out solid gold!
Reviewed by Gareth Williams
Revisit our interview with The Darkness’ Frankie Poullain right here
The Southern River Band
The Darkness Australian & New Zealand Tour
Friday 13 March – Enmore Theatre, Sydney – SOLD OUT
Saturday 14 March – Forum, Melbourne – SOLD OUT
Sunday 15 March – The Gov, Adelaide – SOLD OUT
Tuesday 17 March – 170 Russell, Melb
Wednesday 18 March – The Tivoli, Brisbane – SOLD OUT