THE DARKNESS Live! – In Dallas, TX

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The Dead Deads’ McQueen

It’s not often that one has the opportunity to experience rock royalty in an intimate setting.  Fortunately for Screamer Magazine, this was the unexpected backdrop that staged the scene for a night of unforgettable spectacle and pageantry.  Hailing from Lowestoft, Suffolk, The Darkness recently trekked across the mighty oceans to resurrect their highly anticipated tour, which the pandemic stole from them and their fans.  With thirty-four shows kicking off in early March and a catalog overflowing with award-winning, platinum-selling music they were destined to give us a performance so magnificent that you’d need a cigarette afterward.

The Dead Deads’ Daisy

Their loyal fanbase in Dallas, Texas packed the Historic Granada Theater in Lower Greenville for an unadulterated serving of rock n’ roll indulgence.  The evening started with the Nashville-based all-female trio, The Dead Deads.  When the house lights fade an enigmatic voice sounds over the speakers, only adding to the already growing anticipation of the crowd.  After a moment of mystery three silhouettes are draped in a harsh white light.  The fast-paced intro to Thinkers and Prayers, from their latest album, Tell Your Girls It’s Alright, begins and like clockwork, the crowd bobs their heads in unison to the bright sound of McQueen on the drums.  As the light evens out you can clearly see the band dripping in flares, felt, and black X’s painted over their eyes.  The sound pulls back for a verse to allow Meta to take over the stage with her vocals and Daisy to hypnotize the audience with her bass lines.  But before long the pace grows again and the angst is easily showcased with a catchy chorus and harmonizing outro. 

The Dead Deads’ Meta

Now that the crowd has been hooked, they continue on with a sound that spans across genres.  Each song gives a different flair than the last but never fails to give you a taste of all of the best elements found in our favorite grunge, hard rock, indie, and punk songs.  Following the heavier song Ghosts, from Sketches and Animation, Deal With Me showcases just how charismatic Meta is as a vocalist.  Before the song begins she gushes about being out on the road and being in Texas but is sure to mention how hot the weather is.  A man yells from the audience “take it off” and she laughs with a devilish grin saying “I’ll give you that one. I set you up for it”.  There was no need to contest the comment because The Dead Deads are sure to let their music do the talking for them.  Deal With Me begins with the combination of grunge riffs and vocal grit that highlights their attitude.  The drop-tuned progression allows for a slow rhythm to accompany a vocal melody that takes you on a journey throughout the song.  It is apparent at this point in the set that the crowd is slowly transforming into Dead Corps, which true fans will recognize as fellow members of their fanbase.  “Here’s another one that we made up,” Meta says with a smile as the ethereal sound of Dead Inside begins.  This song in particular captures a light sound with contrasting heavy-hitting lyrical content.  The harmonies from Daisy compliment Meta’s isolated vocals in a way that charms the audience.  They close out their set with a unique rendition of Pink Floyd’s In The Flesh, First Tooth, and Nope.  The intimate connection between the band members is revealed as they feed off of each other’s talent and showmanship.  As the final song comes to a close, the energy escalates to the highest level of the night.  Meta thrashes her hair and punches her guitar to the sound of her much heavier guitar licks and intriguing vocal growls.  McQueen’s hard-hitting drum solo takes over the stage, so much so that at the final hit she stands and basks in the spotlight.  This seemingly quiet drummer sure has a deadly sound.  Daisy closes out the evening as she raises her bass upright into the spotlight and then falls to a knee while hammering out her final bass lines.  The Dead Deads proved to Dallas that they are an up-and-coming band that is a force to be reckoned with.

The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins

In the interim, mellow songs by the likes of Huey Lewis are playing while the crew prepares the stage for the headliner.  A white screen falls to cover the stage, but that doesn’t stop the eager fans from following the feet of the stagehands as they roll through the soundcheck.  The positivity of the crowd is buzzing throughout the venue, accompanied by enthusiastic stories of fans who have driven hours to see the show after waiting “for what felt like years” for it to finally come to fruition.  When the lights finally dim the intensity of the crowd electrifies and their screams welcome the intro to Welcome To Glasgae.  The stage remains in darkness as the silhouettes of each band member taking the stage are illuminated by lights coming from behind the drum kit.  Guitarist Dan Hawkins amps up the crowd even further by getting them to clap along to the hit from their most recent album Motorheart.  The overhead stage lights begin flashing enough to get a better look at each band member.  This transition to showtime is pure magic from the moment that the full-energy frontman Justin Hawkins saunters onto the stage and demands the attention of his audience.  Justin has traded in his historical catsuits and stuffed white tigers to sport a vibrant pink jumpsuit with a white Les Paul that matches his exuberance right out of the gates.  Bassist Frankie Poullain mirrors Dan in a signature leather jacket and is not shy to stand his ground and groove.  It is hard to even pay attention to what Rufus Taylor is wearing as he expels an enormous drum sound from centerstage.  The heaviness of this song truly highlights Taylor’s talent and even with the showmanship of the Hawkins brothers, it is hard to move your gaze from Taylor.

The Darkness’ Frankie Poullain

The crowd sings along to the final line and cheers so loudly that every member of the band is left grinning ear to ear.  Poullain lets his bass hang and enthusiastically strikes a cowbell.  Any fan of The Darkness will immediately recognize this as the intro to One Way Ticket, from their second studio album. It is abundantly clear that the venue is full of die-hard Darkness fans because the lyrics can be heard echoing from the crowd.  Although the lyrics are heavy and a touch personal to Justin his showmanship is light, airy, and crowd-focused.  It’s hard to ignore that he is loved and connected to the crowd in a way that very few performers are able to accomplish and experience in the lifetime of their careers.  There isn’t a stagnant moment in the performance. Even when Justin is stuck behind his mic stand, while also playing guitar, he is bouncing and dancing in a manner that has the crowd moving along with him.  The song Growing on Me, from their debut album Permission to Land, shifts to a more upbeat, pop-influenced vibe mixed with a nostalgic air that has even the more timid fans dancing freely.  After seeing this song performed live, amongst the others, it is easy to see why the album went quadruple platinum in the UK.

The Darkness’ Dan Hawkins

Next on the setlist is the most recent hit Motorheart, the title track depicting the comical and complicated relationship with a droid.  Although the lyrical content and the suggestive moves on stage could be confused for novelty satire, this song alone proves that The Darkness is FAR from what could be considered a “novelty band”.  Their tongue-in-cheek style lyrics have a much deeper meaning and storyline than what scrapes the surface.  The set continues with more lyrical genius, blazing guitar solos, guitar pics raining into the crowd, Hawkins’s signature soaring falsetto, and a high point where every member of the band is on the drum riser displaying their tight and toned live performance skills before they all leap into the air off of the riser.  While Dan, Poullain, and Taylor take the next moment to step into the full spotlight, Justin changes into an outfit even more flamboyant than the last.  After a riveting instrumental high, Justin appears in a chest-baring, iridescent jumpsuit anointed with fringe and undeniable glam.  The Darkness goes on to perform hits like Solid Gold, It’s Love, Jim, Heart Explodes, Friday Night, Love is Only a Feeling, and another high point in the night when they allow Japanese Prisoner of Love to seduce the crowd. This high-power guitar riff intro, accompanied by pounding fast-paced drums has the crowd laughing and singing out as if it was a ballad sung in a stadium.  Dan takes his place center stage to play out over the crowd and the rowdiest of fans take to him immediately.  One of the more boisterous fans even catches the attention of the band.  In between songs, Justin takes a moment to invite this fan onto the stage and calls him his “favorite person of the evening”.  Before long they are back to playing more feel-good rock n’ roll equipped with their over-the-top animation, antics, and even an impressively executed headstand from Justin on the drum riser.  As the set rambles on there is an aesthetically pleasing point in the performance where the lights dim leaving only three shadows on the stage.  Poullain utilizes this moment to show off his tantalizing bass lines.  When the lights rise again Justin reappears wearing a white fringe jumpsuit with an open chest and a leather hat.  From stealing a concert-goer’s phone to pausing the show to record the crowd singing Happy Birthday to the Hawkins brothers’ mom, The Darkness is sure to always play on their own terms.

The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins

With an exuberance and energy undiminished over the long set the band seemingly closes with Get Your Hands Off My Woman, their lead single from Permission to Land.  This song displays the kismet energy between band members with guitar interplay and an immense connection between Poullain and Taylor.  With a steady increase in volume, this song allows Justin to let out an incredible trademark scream that amplifies the potency of the performance.  The crowd begs them for one more and the intro to their hit song I Believe In a Thing Called Love takes over the speakers and touches the audience in a way that no other song of the evening had.  It is a truly powerful moment to experience the other-worldliness connection between the band and fans.  The evening closes with an overwhelming feeling that every single live performance should match the entertainment level that The Darkness leaves on the stage.

CLICK HERE to see the full photo gallery of The Darkness from the show! 

CLICK HERE to see the full photo gallery of The Dead Deads from the show! 

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