Review: The Darkness’ Intensity in The Windy City
Standing in the audience of a show on The Darkness’ current US tour, you think again and again that this band deserves a “live release.” But what you picture isn’t a workmanlike collection of concert performances, dutifully packaged and gussied; it’s a full concert captured large, with all but the pointless silences preserved and presented for our review. The realism of Aerosmith’s Live Bootleg and the completeness of a fan recording. This show, you fret, must be chronicled.
For one thing, it’s super funny. In Chicago on Tuesday, only frontman Justin Hawkins spoke, but he’s a man of hilarious words: Unveiling a new song (“Rack Of Glam”), Hawkins expressed its age in terms of a baby dear stumbling half-blind about the heather. To requests for his band’s fruitiest jam (“Hazel Eyes”), he responded with a rejection, a STFU, and an immediate apology. And he semi-jokingly mooned over the cameras at work live-streaming the entire show. That stream was available for a few days; a “live bootleg” CD of our own would capture it for the ages.
This recording would catch fails too, all the glorious found comedy: The bungled “crowd participation” in “Get Your Hands Off Of My Woman.” Hawkins and his guitarist brother’s eagerness to start “Mudslide” and its awkward aftermath. The groans and cheers prompted by Hawkins’ wardrobe change into a Cubs jersey (on eve of their season’s certain end). The clack of Hawkins’ orthodontics against the microphone. So fun, so true, so real.
A bonus DVD would help too. Then we could slo-mo Hawkins’ attempts to foot-volley a guitar pick to himself. We could view side-by-side 2015 Hawkins (slim, boyish, braces, clean cut) and 2012 Hawkins (ripped, elaborately mustachioed, guyliner, shaggy). We could study the physics of when Hawkins executes a handstand on the drum riser — and claps in time with his feet. We could zoom in on mostly-hidden drummer Rufus Taylor, the son of Queen’s drummer. Excellent.
Best of all, this hypothetical The Darkness Live And Dangerous would document a band on fire. Chicago loved The Darkness, not just song lyrics but Hawkins’ beloved stage banter (eg. “Give me a ‘D’! Give me an ‘Arkness’!”). Even songs among their least hooky (“Roaring Waters” from this summer’s Last Of Our Kind), least singable (“Stuck In A Rut”), and least renderable (“One Way Ticket”) seemed to prompt total crowd freakout. In the same way that The Darkness achieved Friday vibe on a rainy Tuesday, The Darkness live album would transform your residence into an exhibit of rock’s monolithic immortality, of Earth’s most confident man and crew spunkily spewing ribaldry, merriment, and rage. Again I’ll point out that the entire event was recorded by cameras and microphones. The hard part is done. Now please slap cover art on it and name a price, dudes!