The Darkness dropped the album ‘Motorheart’ in 2021 and are currently supporting it in a tour that is going across North America. The Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota welcomed the band with a full house of loyal fans anxious to see them, especially since previous bookings had been cancelled due to covid.
Before the headliner would take the stage, a band called The Dead Deads would accept the task of warming up the crowd. They are based in Nashville and what was once a five-piece band has now settled into just three members. Being fans of sci-fi has led to a stylized face make-up that each member wears. The trio consists of Meta doing lead vocals and guitar, bassist Daisy and drummer McQueen. They dropped a full-length album back in 2021 as well, ‘Tell Your Girls It’s Alright,’ and it features a track that one of rock and metals biggest voices, Corey Taylor, sings on called “Murder Ballad II.” The band has a sound that encompasses many different styles and influences. When you dive into the catalog, you’re going to get rock, hard rock, punk, metal, alternative and indie all being blended into the formula that makes up The Dead Deads. This was my first time encountering them so I had no idea what to expect or any of the songs they played. I found myself being swept into the performance and the songs were catchy with addictive melodies that kept things really fun. They got a great crowd reaction and Justin Hawkins of The Darkness was standing side stage rocking out as they played, just like the crowd in front of them. I’ve since checked out the album and there is some great stuff on it, songs like “First Tooth,” “Deal With Me” and the heavy nineties alternative rocker “Hey Girlfriend” stood out immediately. It’s always a great bonus moment when you’re hitting a show and a brand-new musical gem pops up before the headliner plays. Check out The Dead Deads as they have a really cool thing going on.
The Darkness struck first with the opening cut off the newest record “Welcome Tae Glasgae.” The quartet consisted of drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor, bassist Frankie Poullain, guitarist Dan Hawkins and the flamboyant and unforgettable lead singer and guitarist Justin Hawkins. The song got people jumping with its hard rocking attack and from that moment on, the band held the Varsity Theater in their hands for the next hour and a half. When Frankie walks out with the cowbell, you know two things are going to happen, first off, everybody starts yelling “more cowbell,” the second, “One Way Ticket” is going to be the next song. Two of the biggest sing-alongs of the night were that song followed by “Growing On Me.” The Darkness sounded absolutely fantastic as they juggled a setlist built around seven studio albums, the debut record, now almost twenty years old, ‘Permission To Land,” provided seven of the sixteen song set. So many good songs went by in a heartbeat, “Solid Gold,” “Open Fire,” “Heart Explodes,” “Barbarian” and “Friday Night” were some of the stand-outs but quite honestly, nothing in the set was less than amazing.
Justin Hawkins is always the wildcard when you discuss The Darkness with any rock fan. It is impossible to ignore his signature voice, costumes and stage antics. You are either against him and that wicked voice or a willing passenger on his musical journey that refuses to be defined or boxed into any specific genre, except good old rock-n-roll. A good example of this can be found in a couple songs in the bands show. They played the title track from the new record, ”Motorheart,” it is a song that pushes in different directions, sounds and tempos which completely breaks away from the simplicity of another popular song in the set, “Givin’ Up,” which drives with an AC/DC type vibe. I always appreciate artists and bands that push the envelope and the fan base to listen to different styles and not simply repeat what has already been done over and over again. With all that said, everything they do, sounds uniquely The Darkness, and I’m always ready to continue that musical journey in any direction the band decides to take.
The night really flew by fast and before I knew it, they ripped through “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” to a rousing response but the best was yet to come. After returning to the stage they had one song left, the enviable closer. They launched into the song that put the band in our laps, “I Believe In A Thing Called Love.” However, shortly after they started it, they stopped. Justin asked to people to put away the phones and simply enjoy the song and the moment. They started the song again and the people were absorbed by the moment, the song and enjoying live music once again. What The Darkness truly understands, and this show is another testament to that, a live experience is not only about how well you can play your material, and rest assure, they play it well, but it’s also about performing and entertaining. They deliver such a high energy show that pulls people right on the stage. Even if you were not a fan, you couldn’t help but to sucked into its atmosphere the show creates. Anytime these guys book a show in my town, I will be there, they may truly be the last of their kind.