Not since the heyday of Gazzarri’s has a Sunset Strip club seen so many guitar solos and David Lee Roth-style jumps. In their second visit to the States, much-hyped Brit quartet The Darkness showed as a less-powerful hybrid of AC/DC and Queen with a dash of the Sweet. Singer Justin Hawkins’ falsetto vocals and chest-baring, zebra-striped one-piece cat suit lending an intentionally ironic touch to the band’s good-time retro power metal.
As on the group’s “Permission to Land” CD, songs and performance Monday night were uneven, if often lovable and occasionally inspired. When The Darkness got it right — the gutsy “Black Shuck,” the toe-tapping “Growing on Me,” the edgy bombast of “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” or the clap-along innocence of “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” — it made for memorable melodies and pure metal-lite fun not seen since Poison’s heyday. The Darkness’ OG (Original Glam) vibe is unique in today’s climate, and given the cool dual guitar harmonies of the Hawkins brothers, Dan’s Thin Lizzy T-shirt was clearly an homage.
The Darkness’ “Next Big Thing” status is understandable given their brash neo-uniqueness, and many at this sold-out show embraced the band’s incongruous insouciance. Whether there’s a place for the Darkness’ beautiful bluster in today’s John Mayer world remains to be seen.