Instead, the band did the most sensible thing. In a sold out rock-revival opera, the guys played their sole mega-jam in almost a decade immediately before the encore. The end result was that it came immediately after eighteen other songs, split between both of the Queen-listening, spectacle-loving glam rockers' albums, Permission to Land and One Way Ticket to Hell ... And Back.
It came after the level of rock posturing usually reserved for a music video and more costume changes than Jesus Christ Superstar: Duck walking, Van Halen jumping, fist pounding, behind-the-head guitar-playing, bra-throwing and random bouts of thumbs-upping all made the cut in a night predicated on performance quality without performance anxiety.
So when it did come, it was worth it.
When the guys stepped onstage, their entrance was marked by the night's first lovable cliché in a long string of them. Preceded by Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town," the newly reunited quartet walked on in front of an audience that has not had the opportunity to see the band in the United States for roughly seven years. Although The Darkness' ratio of serious content to serious silliness has yet to be fully explored, that time lapse could bring a huge amount of pressure for even the most nonchalant nostalgia revival act. It seems someone forgot to tell that to Justin Hawkins, though.
Stuffed into a sleeveless leather American flag suit and bearded like Captain Jack Sparrow's crazier uncle, the lead singer provided more than half of the spectacle all by his onesie. The first note of the night was a high one, somehow sustained throughout the extensive falsetto sections of all 21 songs he, his brother and their band would amp up and crank out throughout a two-hour spectacle. Hawkins live is like if Steve Coogan had prodigious vocal range and was really, really into Freddie Mercury.
In his few shimmies to the side of the stage to drink water, Hawkins could be seen either adjusting the crotch of his current costume or changing into a new one: With both a plaid vest suit and a striped lace-up V-neck catsuit with a cod piece (a cod piece!) in the mix, the ratio of bizarre clothing to pale tattooed skin heavily favored his bare nipples. The eventual realization is a poignant one: There is a flame tattoo coming out of his down-under region. Justin Hawkins' crotch is metaphorically on fire.
But if his aesthetic presented a united -- and batshit -- front, his audience only matched in its levels of enthusiasm. Through first album highlights ("Love Is Only a Feeling," "Get Your Hands Off Of My Woman") to the band's new material, the Summit's sold-out crowd sang along to even the more obscure material, taking care to freak out sufficiently for the Darkness' eerie and ear-catching cover of Radiohead's "Street Spirit" and enthusiastically obeying Hawkins' request to "show us your fucking thumbs."
The Darkness have clearly returned to peak performance shape, and the band played almost all of its material....
Review, set list and more photos on Page 2!