Concert Review: The Darkness – Back in the U.S.S.A.

BassistFamous for their smash hit “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” off Permission to Land and “Open Fire” from their new album Last of Our Kind, these lads took the stage the House of Blues and prepared to rock with the ’70s swag and ’80s vigor they’ve created a career on. I had no idea the spectacle I was in store for.

Before those guys even took the stage though, I was hit with opening act Mercy Music. Closely resembling something that was a mix between Hot Water Music and Masked Intruders, their punk rock swagger really lit a small fire despite the fact that the crowd seemed to not know who these guys were. These boys from Utah really started the show off on the right foot. Shoutout to the fantastic “Painless” which really brings the melody and complexity to their rhythm. It may very well be the best song on their only release. I waited there as they finished in between sets bantering back and forth with the people at this venue The House of Blues Las Vegas and I wondered why this venue, of all the available choices, is so popular. It isn’t particularly big, it does not allow it’s crowds much expression in their dance moves. Nonetheless, I have to say there isn’t a bad seat in the house. So I suppose perhaps that is the killer feature here.

RavenEye, a group of proper lads from across the pond took the stage next. I have to give them credit for really bringing it! With a ferocious higher register that conjures up the sonic doppelganger of something in the way of Aranda or Vegas favorites Steel Panther. They seem to really grasp the showmanship of the show here. Their call and response during “Hey Hey Yeah” seemed to go over well with the live crowd. Just as well as it does on its album “Breaking Out,” that in and of itself is a great start. Sometime during the middle part of their set front man Oli Brown performed atop bassist Aaron Spiers. He played an entire song this way. Spiers deserves credit. It isn’t as if simply playing bass guitar is not hard enough, now there’s a guy who’s a solid 165 pounds on top of your shoulders. Trapezius game was strong bro, great job! Now the bands were clear of the stage. That music that plays in between was on and thus far I’m unimpressed by this filler music. It felt like forever but it was only about 45 mins as they unloaded RavenEye’s equipment in favor of the headliners.

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As our headliners took the stage, singer Justin Hawkins was wearing a leotard custom made for him by one of the lovely ladies in the audience. This thing was the odd combo of Willy Wonka and terrible male ballet dancer. Hawkins brought it, though. Not only was he swaggering about the stage in a manner that was equal parts serpentine and foxish, but this guy did so while keeping the energy up and even stopping to play some piano mid-set. Overall these guys proved me wrong. I thought they were not going to be able to bring it at all; what I got instead was a fun time with a band that previously I was not a huge fan of, but coming out of it, I gain a modicum of respect for these guys. Often as a jaded punk rock loving music writer, I find bands like this schticky. Hawkins and co. don’t settle for mediocrity in their stage show, but instead, opt to craft just a fun time that fits their fans and their attitude. Check out their newest album “Last of Our Kind,” it’s a pretty solid entry.

Punk Rocker. Cinephile. Writer of things and stuff! Catch me @FilmSnobReviews on Twitter and Instagram! I think it'll be the start of a beautiful friendship!