The Rave welcomed British glam rockers, The Darkness, to Milwaukee on Jan. 26, 2013. On an evening when rising country star Chris Young was also playing upstairs in the Eagle's Ballroom, the line to enter The Rave appeared to be a confused amalgamation of flannel, boots and leather pants. Once the venue staff ushered fans to their respective venues, order was restored and the assembled mass of black t-shirts were ready to rock.
Justin Hawkins knows how to make an entrance. The vocalist took center stage wearing a tight, striped jumpsuit that was open down to his naval, exposing his tattoos and chiseled abdomen. Concealing a grin behind his shaggy mustache, he wailed to the crowd and asked, "Are you ready to rock?" They opened with the lead track, "Every Inch of You," from their comeback album "Hot Cakes" as though a lengthy six-year hiatus never occurred.
The Darkness are the textbook example of glam. Having surfaced over a decade after the it erupted in L.A., they have epitomized the genre. Swanky attitudes and an obligatory confidence that's required to take a stage wearing tight leather pants or daredevil-styled jumpsuits. Throw in Justin's four-octave vocal range and falsetto delivery and it's as though the 80s exploded on stage. Dan Hawkins, Justin's brother, delivers catchy riffs that tie in perfectly with Justin's voice. Frankie Poullain, the lanky bassist sporting the fro, keeps the rhythm heavy with Ed Graham on the kit.
Though they did manage to knock out five songs from their new album, including "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us," the majority of their set featured their debut and much heralded release, "Permission to Land." The best part of a headline gig is that the fans attend because it's their artist. That was definitely the case on Saturday night, as most in the crowd sang along with Justin throughout the night. Deep into their set, Justin started playing a bluesy piece on his guitar while the crowd started to cheer. He paused while facing away from the audience then turned his head to face the crowd. He then played a single riff--the opening chord to "I Believe in a Thing Called Love"--and The Rave exploded with approval.
In a little under two hours, The Darkness had hammered out 18 songs and gave the crowd exactly what they had come to see. They promised a rock show and delivered on all accounts.
The Darkness setlist:
Every Inch of You
Growing on Me
She's Just a Girl, Eddie
One Way Ticket
Nothing's Gonna Stop Us
Get Your Hands Off My Woman
Love Is Only a Feeling
Living Each Day Blind
Is It Just Me?
Stuck in a Rut
I Believe in a Thing Called Love
The Best of Me
Street Spirit (Radiohead cover)
Love on the Rocks With No Ice