The Darkness Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto ON - January 12, 2004

The Darkness Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto ON - January 12, 2004
The jury is still out on the issue of whether the Darkness are anything more than the next British flash in the pan (paging Frankie Goes to Hollywood). But until the verdict's in, it's clear that the London-based retro-glam metal band are going to do everything in their power to rock the world and have one hell of a good time. In a day filled with (falsified) Canadian gold album certification, news of four Brit award nominations and front-man Justin Hawkins's freshly pierced "knob" courtesy of a Toronto piercing emporium, the band was in a mood to party and take as many people along for the fist-pumping, falsetto-shrieking ride as would follow. Their 75-minute set — short, yes, but remember they only have one album to their credit — featured all the things the band has become famous for: Hawkins's shrill Freddie Mercury-meets-Lou Gramm circa Foreigner 4 voice and fashion sense, chunky Gibsons-through-Marshall-stacks guitar sounds and solid AC/DC-like backbeats. And doing it all without the slightest hint or irony. Opening with an instrumental teaser and following up with most of Permission to Land, Hawkins and company had the audience lapping up every minute. Throw in all the hits, some good-time audience participation, sing-alongs and a couple of new tracks and you had a full-blown set worthy of the audience calls for the encore — an encore that culminated in Hawkins being carried through the audience on the shoulders of a roadie while soloing over the closing strains of "Love on the Rocks with No Ice." Perhaps what's most remarkable is that campy get-ups aside, what seems to be overlooked is that they are accomplished musicians and damn good songwriters. Sure, the Darkness are gimmicky and may not be around to record another disc (or if they are, will the novelty have worn off and will anybody care?) but for the time being they're making the best of things and being hugely entertaining in the process. So much so that even those people who paid scalpers $150 for $15 tickets probably thought they got a great deal.