There’s nothing gothic or noir about Darkness.
Wednesday night, the four-man band from England unleashed its garish mix of hard-rock glam and pop metal on a crowd of more than 500 inside the Uptown, proving over the course of 85 minutes or so that a little humor goes a long way toward making a show memorable and entertaining.
Hawkins’ handstand on the drum riser, with legs splayed like a V, was probably the best of those, going by the crowd’s response. For my money, the ace move of the night was when he tossed his pick in the air and side-kicked it back to himself.
Hawkins left the band in 2006 to pursue a solo project and go through rehab for substance abuse. In 2011, the original lineup of the band reunited without missing a beat. Its music still sounds as relevant as it did 10 years ago, and Hawkins looks as fit as a mixed martial arts fighter (“Iggy Pop wants his body back,” a friend said about Hawkins’ lean and sculpted frame.)
On Wednesday evening Hawkins wore a sleeveless jumpsuit split down the front to a spot below his navel, exposing his lean, chiseled and tattooed arms and torso. His voice is just as extravagant and flamboyant as his fashion and stage antics, bounding effortlessly from a metal roar to a skyscraping falsetto.
They took the stage to the regal fanfare of ABBA’s “Arrival,” then launched into “Every Inch of You,” the opening tune off “Hot Cakes,” the band’s third album, released in August. The set list included several of its songs, including its makeover of Radiohead’s “Street Spirit (Fade Out),” which sounded more like a Judas Priest cover.
But for the most part, they indulged a crowd that seemed as amused as it was entertained and satisfied by giving it all but three tracks off “Permission,” including the big hit, which closed the first set.
Several times Hawkins or one of his mates choreographed handclapping and arm-swaying, and the crowd before him, which sang-along full-heartedly to many of those primal but catchy songs, responded emphatically.
Late in the show, Hawkins continued to play lead guitar as he rode atop the shoulders of a large security person. The crowd split and gave them room to maneuver but not without giving Hawkins a hero’s reception.
They ended with “Love on the Rocks With No Ice,” another anthem with classic-metal roots that gave Hawkins room to rocket launch some vocal grenades and his band, including his younger brother and fellow guitarist, Dan Hawkins, time to spray the room with some thunder and lightning.
It all bore the vibe of a rock-solid band that is serious about what it does, but that values the lightness of a little levity, parody and laughter.
Setlist: “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us”; “Get Your Hands Off My Woman”; “Love Is Only a Feeling”; “Friday Night”; “Concrete”; “Is it Just Me”; “Givin’ Up”; “Stuck in a Rut”; “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”. Encore: “The Best of Me”; “Street Spirit (Fade Out)”; “Love on the Rocks With no Ice.”| Timothy Finn, The Star