Brit rockers The Darkness may have wowed audiences in the early '00’s, but they would’ve easily been as much of a smash three decades earlier.
In 2003, the band released their debut, “Permission to Land,” and stuck out like a sore thumb both here and abroad. In their homeland, the Queen-esque grandiosity of “Land” and, most notably its smash single, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” ran counter to the one-two punch of Radiohead and Coldplay, who dominated the airwaves with their respective sets “Hail to the Thief” and “A Rush of Blood to the Head,” while on these shoes, the last time anything resembling the bravado of “Land” and “Love” came from Freddy Mercury and company on the AM dial.
To say that the follow up to “Land,” 2005’s “One Way Ticket to Hell … and Back,” fell victim to the sophomore slump, would be putting it mildly. While the album went platinum in the Darkness’ homeland, it was soon relegated to the discount bins following its release, and on this side of the pond, it came and went in a blink. The most notable press the band received around “Hell” came a year after its release, when front man Justin Hawkins entered rehab and, after that, left the band.
Between 2006 and 2011, Hawkins tried his hand at everything from solo act to songsmith for hire to thesp to music contest go-to before returning to the Darkness fold. A reunion tour was received with great acclaim, and the album that followed, last summer’s “Hot Cakes,” worked well with the faithful but failed to dent the Billboard 200 album chart.
And unfortunately, more Queen comparisons are in order; “Hot Cakes” was well received in and beyond the U.K., and their live shows – with Hawkins filling Mercury’s shoes splendidly in the role of charismatic front man – are becoming the stuff of legend. For $29 and the usual fees, this may be worth catching for the spectacle.
The Darkness, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27, Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine, Chicago. $29 (18 and older show). FYI: (773) 275-6800, JAMUSA.COM
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For more information, contact the venues or ticket sales agencies listed below. Unless otherwise indicated, all shows are all-ages.
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Frontier Ruckus, Feb. 21, Schubas (12 and older, SCHUBAS.COM)
Switchback, March 15, Mayne Stage (MAYNESTAGE.COM)
Devon Allman, Jan. 26, Reggie’s Music Joint (21 and older show, REGGIESLIVE.COM)
Autumn Owls, March 7, Schubas (21 and older, SCHUBAS.COM)
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