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Concert review: The Darkness wails, thrills at Metro

February 12, 2012|By Matt Pais | RedEye Sound Board

Yes, frontman Justin Hawkins did a spread-eagle handstand during the Darkness’ sold-out show Saturday at Metro.

Yes, he climbed up on the speakers and dove into the crowd, like a rock god unfrozen from 30 years ago.

Yet anyone who saw the English glam-rockers as a joke needed only to hear Hawkins belt out “Holding My Own” alone with his guitar to hear that Hawkins’ voice is the truth, and so is the band. This group, largely dormant in the years since 2005’s “One Way Ticket to Hell … and Back” failed to replicate the success of 2003’s “Permission to Land,” has returned with every possible fire still burning, affectionately bowing to late ‘70s/mid-‘80s rock excess without making a mockery out of it.

Straddling every song from “Permission” to a limited sampling of “Ticket” to more songs from an untitled, approaching third album without a release date, the Darkness proved that cohesion never goes out of style in a performance that provided no reason to wonder if Hawkins' previous drug problems remainined a problem. (Google “Justin Hawkins Cocaine” for more info.) The band deserves a lot of credit for injecting energy into both blazing howlers and soaring ballads, with “Is It Just Me?,” “Stuck in a Rut,” and, of course, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” reaching special peaks of falsetto awesomeness. Not once did Hawkins’ vocals suggest, “Oh, he’s better in the studio.” The guy freaking wails, and he’s a showman like the rock world rarely sees anymore. High-pitched Eric Sean Nally of openers Foxy Shazam also knows how to hold a crowd in his hands, even if the Cincinnati group more often inspires words like “goofy” and “ridiculous” compared to the Darkness' seemingly effortless, badass commitment to fun.

Quite simply, Saturday night at the Metro was classic and over-the-top in all the right ways, not the least bit hip and 100 percent bitchin’. Thanks to the Darkness, the W is back in rawk.

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