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THE DARKNESS, RAVENEYE In Cleveland, OH With Photos!

By Geoff Ketler, Cleveland Contributor
Monday, May 2, 2016 @ 9:11 AM


Justin Hawkins And Co. Dad Cleveland Believing In A Thing Called Rock

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All Photos By Geoff Ketler/Aces High Photography

The glam rockers THE DARKNESS stormed onto the scene in 2003 with the multi-platinum certified Permission To Land. Formed by brothers Justin & Dan Hawkins, the group brings a mystical, nostalgic feel that made their adoring fans young and old fall in love the band. It had been well over 10 years since the English rockers paid a visit to the Rock Hall City. Hopefully next time will be much sooner.

The show was originally slated to begin at 7:30pm with THE DARKNESS taking the stage around 9pm. I had other commitments and arrived at the House of Blues at about half passed 8pm, expecting the opener to be done or finishing up. For some reason everything had been pushed back and I am so fortunate that it was because I would have missed a spectacular set from UK-based RAVENEYE. The trio ripped through an aggressive and groovy set and was well received by the crowd. I think guitarist/vocalist Oli Brown and bassist Aaron Spiers spent more time in the pit, stirring up the audience, than they did on stage. At one point Oli climbed up on Aaron’s shoulders. It was quite the spectacle. Oli’s soulful lyrics accompanied by Aaron’s bombastic bass made for a, dare I say “ZEPPELIN-esque” temperament, but with all of the stage antics of any major headlining act. They reminded me of MONSTER TRUCK but with less southern flare. At any rate, definitely check them out. I loved the energy and just how tight they were.

https://www.facebook.com/ItsRavenEye

It was about 10pm when THE DARKNESS took the stage. Frontman Justin Hawkins strutted out to center stage wearing a skin-tight, red-striped, one piece jumpsuit. The rest of the band took their positions and quickly took off into “Barbarian” off of their latest release, 2015’s Last Of Our Kind. Justin’s moves, antics and charm stole the show. KNAC.COM on-air personality, Junkman described Justin’s persona and performance by drawing a comparison to the late, great Freddie Mercury in his review of the San Diego gig. I will second that and say that Justin Hawkins is likely as close as I will ever get to seeing the legendary frontman live. He has that certain “odd” quality that just catches your attention but without sacrificing his performance. All of his falsetto shrieks and choruses were on par with the original recordings.

Throughout the night, Justin’s guitar tech would bring out and retrieve his white custom Gibson Les Paul long enough to play the solos or rhythm backing his brother Dan Hawkins' solos. The entire band was tight and they really looked like they were really enjoying themselves up there. Highlight of the night, besides hearing “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”, had to be the up-tempo rocker, “Black Shuck”. Crowd participation was pretty much mandatory. Justin would often stick the microphone into the faces of the people in the front row. He even went as far as to toss the corded mic into the audience to allow others to sing chorus lines or introduce the next song. The set had all of the glam and rock stardom of a large-scale auditorium gig, but somehow they kept it feeling like an intimate club show with all of the interaction and small talk between songs. It was one of those shows where you don’t realize the quality of the band’s catalogue until they get up there on stage and just blast it into your ear drums.

It is easy to chalk up THE DARKNESS as a sort of novelty act because of the crazy vocals, much like Lemmy did a while back. I will admit that I had my doubts as to their live validity, but fortunately I can say that those doubts are all erased after a performance like that. I get it now. I guess you could call me a believer and I will not miss THE DARKNESS the next time they come to my town; neither should you.

Setlist:

  • “Barbarian”
  • “Growing On Me”
  • “Mudslide”
  • “Black Shuck”
  • “Roaring Waters”
  • “Givin’ Up”
  • “One Way Ticket”
  • “Love Is Only A Feeling”
  • “Friday Night”
  • “English Country Garden”
  • “Every Inch Of You”
  • “Get Your Hands Off My Woman”
  • “Stuck In A Rut”
  • “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”
Encore:
  • “Concrete”
  • “Love On The Rocks With No Ice”


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