Nothing says rock & roll like free Stella Artois at 8:15 in the morning. Thatís what faced me this morning as I caught an exclusive gig by one of Britainís most talked about rock acts, The Darkness, at their XFM Radio Morning Session performance at Sound in London. Sanity overrode any desire for hops and barley, however, and I stuck with coffee, but for many of the contest winners, just after 8:00 AM was a mighty fine time to start drinking. The very rock & roll Darkness would be proud.
As the gig was broadcast live on the radio, there was a lot of down time between songs, but for the radio listeners, the quartet, who sound like AC/DC meets Van Halen with Queen joining the sonic car crash as well, rocked five tracks, including recent single ìGrowing On Me,î which entered the UK charts at 11. Prior singles ìI Believe In A Thing Called Loveî and the excellently metal ìGet Your Hands Off My Womanî were also aired out to the joy of the crowd. The crowd itself showed the varied appeal of the ë80s-tinged rockers. Indie kids, old school metallers, business men, skaters, and meatheads alike all arose early and headed to Leicester Square to check out the finest new school arena rock around. After the radio mics were removed, the band played another five or so songs, including their mindblowing Iron Maidenesque cover of Radioheadís ìStreet Spirit.î On the day their debut album, Permission To Land, hit shelves, the band were sure look the hair metal part, with frontman Justin Hawkins resplendent in tight-ass skin hugging pants and no shirt, throwing shapes like he was a 12-year-old kid in front of the mirror at home. The whole experience would be deemed a theatrical sham, with every metal clichÈ in the book in effect (scissor kicks and guitar wailing histrionics ending each song, throwing devil horns, orchestrating crowd clap-alongs), if the bandís songs werenít so damn catchy. Paired with the fact that Justin rocks all the clichÈs, but is always smiling like heís having the best time in the world, only makes you believe the hype even more. Justin would thrown horns, and then turn it into a ìthumbís up,î getting the entire crowd to stand there like an army of Fonz aficionados; all the while, The Darknessí songs are weaving their way into your brain, with Justinís excellent falsetto echoing between your ears, and a giant smile permanently gracing his face. When the yearís over, chances are the history book will leave the following epitaph. Itís 2003: the year we again descended into The Darkness.