On Saturday, April 23, 2016, the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee experienced a night of sweat, glamour and rock. The Darkness treated fans to a bombastic fifteen song set list that included some of their finest work from all four of their albums.
The Darkness, fronted by Justin Hawkins, took the stage opening with “Barbarian” from their most recent album The Last of Our Kind. From the immediate guitar riff to Hawkins’ Nordic wails, fans were not at all disappointed in the energy Justin and the guys brought to the stage. A classic from 2003, “Growing on Me”, was not only a delightful surprise but superbly executed. Justin, true to form, introduced, “My little brother, Daniel Francis Hawkins on the electronic guitar.” I cannot put into words Dan’s musical sincerity, talent and raw power that he possesses behind those six strings. He effortlessly combines artistic finesse and heavy hitting chords. He is divinely professional and polished. If Justin is the strong cup of coffee, Dan is cream that balances it.
The unmistakable intro to “Mudslide”, backed by the brilliant flashbulb style lighting rigs, lent the perfect touch of 1970s glam to the bands’ track from their latest album. Images of sequins and velvet rock may fleetingly come to mind at the sight and sound of Rufus Tiger Taylor on drums. To say he is an animal behind the set is an understatement. Rufus delivers a monstrous performance that knocks the air right out of you and leaves one in a state of bewilderment. His concentration was so intense, it is as if he had to be reminded to look up, wipe the sweat away, and smile.
The guys continued their set with “Black Shuck”, “Givin’ Up”, and “Roaring Waters”, all of which serve as a reminder that Justin Hawkins proves to be a rare kind of front man. He had the natural charisma of which other artists spend their entire careers searching. Perhaps it is his genuine passion and natural stage presence that sets Justin apart. He is infectious, and his white finish Les Paul becomes part of him when he ignites the night.
The iconic appearance of a cowbell meant only two things: One, Frankie Poullain was ready to showcase his percussive prowess Two, “One Way Ticket” was next on the menu. Frankie is quite “frankly” the biggest cowbell tease to land on this side of the Atlantic. After luring the audience right into his rhythmic trap, he ditched the beloved instrument for his bass once again. Poullain is smooth and elegant behind the bass guitar; his sound is rich, warm and full of depth.
The night continued with a capo popping up on Dan’s Les Paul, an indication that “Love is Only a Feeling”, with its heartfelt solo, followed. Justin then proceeded to take over the keyboard with “Friday Night” and “English Country Garden” both of which fans dearly loved. “Every Inch of You” from the 2012 album Hotcakes and a fan favorite in England, “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” flowed together nicely as the set continued to unfold. Hawkins didn’t struggle in the higher register of these songs and at this point in the night he most certainly wasn’t suffering any vocal fatigue! The set concluded with “Stuck in a Rut” followed by the iconic hit that launched the bands’ career, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.” The much-anticipated encore, “Love on the Rocks with No Ice” not only boasted incredible guitar but also evoked a wave of nostalgia as Justin floated through the crowd on a set of lucky shoulders a la Angus Young.
If the night had to be summed up in one word, it would be phenomenal. If you must pick one show to see, drive, fly or ride a magical unicorn to a venue near you before the Back to the USSA tour concludes in early May. Glitter in your hair is optional, but a thirst for rock is a prerequisite.
War Memorial Auditorium, Nashville, TN 4/23/2016 Set List
- Growing on Me
- Black Shuck
- Roaring Waters
- Givin’ Up
- One Way Ticket
- Love is Only A Feeling
- Friday Night
- English Country Garden
- Every Inch of You
- Get Your Hands Off My Woman
- Stuck in a Rut
- I Believe in a Thing Called Love
15. Love on the Rocks With No Ice
Check out these photos from the War Memorial Auditorium!
All Photo Credit: Amanda Knight
Writer: Amanda Knight