“We’re The Darkness from the United Kingdom, and we’re here on business!” By the time frontman Justin Hawkins made that introduction early in Friday night’s set, it was unnecessary: The nearly full Lincoln Theatre was clearly familiar with the British quartet, and the band was giving the crowd exactly what they came to see. While opening with the crude, autobiographical “Every Inch of You” from last year’s comeback record Hot Cakes, The Darkness eventually played through almost all of its breakthrough debut Permission to Land, only leaving off album closer “Holding My Own” from an album stuffed with more legitimate hits than a Time Life compilation.
Wisely avoiding nearly all of its disappointing sophomore effort (save the cowbell-heavy title track, which was one of the evening’s biggest shout-alongs), the group sprinkled in a couple Permission-era B-sides, along with just a few cuts from its newest album, highlighted by lead single “Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us.” The song finds The Darkness doing its best impression of Queen’s operatic acrobatics, while elsewhere finding as much influence from Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest and Aerosmith. With anthemic choruses led by Hawkins’ trademark falsetto, the band’s glam-meets-metal brand of hard rock was definitely derivative and undeniably catchy—an especially fun mix live.
The night had all the hallmarks of the archetypal rock show: lighters swayed in the air, hands clapped overhead, women perched on mens’ shoulders, tons of metal horns. The four-piece looked the part, too, with its smattering of bad hair, thick eyeliner and garish outfits. In a black-and-white striped leotard that was almost too revealing, Hawkins provided a theatric array of handstands, toe-touches, gyrations, pelvic thrusts and high kicks. Though the show predictably peaked with the set-closing megahit “I Believe In A Thing Called Love,” even the ham-fisted cover of “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” sounded far better in the encore than on Hot Cakes, its verses chugging along to a metallic gallop while the huge, climatic chorus soared.
It was a fitting metaphor for the evening, as The Darkness certainly will never parallel its innovative British brethren in Radiohead. That knowledge—shared by band and fans alike—hardly keeps them from celebrating their status as unapologetic rock stars.