by Steve Patrick & Chris A.
– Columnist / Senior Photojournalist —
January 23, 2013, Newport Music Hall, Columbus, Ohio —
Every once and a while, a show will come along that totally restores the audience’s faith in the power of rock music. For those in attendance, The Darkness’ concert at the Newport Music Hall on Wednesday night was exactly that kind of show. The enthusiastic crowd filled the historic concert venue on a freezing Ohio night and they all had the singular goal of having a good time.
From the second the chugging riff of “Every Inch of You” from the band’s latest album Hot Cakes filled the hall, it was clear that not only was this reunited band back but they were somehow better than ever. Frontman Justin Hawkins pranced on stage in one of his signature open-chested leotards (black and white striped, to be exact) and, if it weren’t for all his new tattoos, you could have sworn that it was 2003 all over again once that first falsetto note hit the mic.
Early in the set Hawkins proclaimed, “We’re here from the United Kingdom and we’re here on fuckin’ business!” He couldn’t have been more right since the band played as if they were in a fifty thousand seat arena. Granted the band has been back together since mid-2011 and has been steadily touring since then, but it truly was remarkable just how tight the band sounded.
Classic tracks like “Black Shuck” and “Growing on Me” were peppered between new songs like “Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us”, “Concrete”, and “She’s Just a Girl, Eddie” which was written about drummer Ed Graham’s ex-girlfriend. While the song selection favored the band’s new record and their debut, Permission to Land, the guys did dust off a couple of One Way Ticket to Hell…and Back gems with the title track and “Hazel Eyes.”
Prior to launching into “One Way Ticket,” Hawkins commented on the temperature in the room by joking, “It’s so cold my nose is running… and that has nothing to do with all the cocaine I used to do.” Aside from his usual guitar-humping, riser-jumping antics, Hawkins even did a head stand in the middle of “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” complete with synchronized raised leg clapping.
Bassist Frankie Poullain played the role of cheerleader instructing the crowd when to clap during the songs. Poullain’s outfit was his signature Phil Lynott meets a space pirate look. Speaking of Thin Lizzy, guitarist Dan Hawkins was dressed very normal by comparison as he was wearing one of the band’s t-shirts.
The energy of the show never let up as the band barreled through crowd pleasers like “Best of Me,” “Street Spirit (Fade Out),” “Givin’ Up” and “Stuck in a Rut.” The Newport Music Hall is located near Ohio State University campus, so the crowd was all waiting to hear The Darkness’ signature tune, but Hawkins teased the crowd by playing an extended bluesy guitar solo prior to the payoff riff of “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.”
As expected, the crowd went wild for the band’s biggest single. After a nice sing-along session with the audience, the band exited the stage only to return rather quickly to start the encore. The band returned to the stage with “Living Each Day Blind”, another new song from Hot Cakes and the crowd received it quite well. Hawkins then said his goodbyes, but returned to the mic as if he’d forgotten something. “Oh and one more thing,” Hawkins slyly said. “Love on the Rocks with No Ice”.
“Love on the Rocks” is the usual set-closer for the band, but this time was special since Dan Hawkins hoisted his brother up onto his shoulders so that Justin could play the song’s guitar solo throughout the crowd and venue. Usually Justin is lifted up by a security guard or roadie, so Dan doing that was pretty unique.
While it might have been bone-chillingly cold and snowing outside, the Newport Music Hall was the hottest place to be in town that night thanks to a little quartet from the UK who thankfully have reunited to bring rock music’s fun and sense of humor back.
The Darkness Concert Photo Gallery
With pomp and circumstance the best rock n’ roll band to come out of England since Queen and Thin Lizzy rocked the campus of “The” Ohio State University performing on a brisk, 21 degree night at the Newport Music Hall, Columbus, Ohio. Amazing showmen, “The Darkness” are a great rocking, fun-loving rock n’ roll band. Justin Hawkins is magnetic and has an undeniable rock star aura! The Darkness is a super-tight band that’s blowing their audiences away every time. I hope you enjoy this gallery from the show and please drop by Chris A Photography on Facebook!
[Photos by Chris A.]