The Darkness Envelops the Agora
April 15th, 2018
While it seemed all of Cleveland’s attention on April 14th would be turned towards the Rock Hall Induction ceremony being held just up the street, a considerable crowd opted instead to go to the Agora for the Tour de Prance tour with British glam rockers The Darkness. In fact, during the opening act, Diarrhea Planet guitarist Evan Bird said, “We didn’t expect many people to show up tonight but, wow, there are a lot of you!”
Cleveland shows up when it counts, and Tour de Prance certainly made it worthwhile.
Decked out in a skin-tight leopard print suit, The Darkness’ frontman Justin Hawkins wasted no time riling the crowd up. Standing on the edge of the stage, Hawkins raised his guitar and his hands, urging audience members to get hyped up for the start of a solid eighteen tune set. The Darkness kicked it off with “Open Fire” from 2015’s The Last of Our Kind. Guitarist and younger brother Dan Hawkins opted for a less splashy costume than older sibling, but was shredding right along as the band played “Love is Only a Feeling” and “Southern Trains." Bassist Frankie Poullain played along in a gold lamé bell-bottomed leisure suit, his signature ‘fro bouncing along to the beat as he paced back and forth.
Some members of the audience threw articles of clothing on stage in which Hawkins accepted and wore, including a trucker cap and a woman’s tiny blazer which he was able to squeeze into as he rocked out to “Barbarian” and "Buccaneers of Hispaniola."
Although the band’s latest offering Pinewood Smile came out in 2017, The Darkness’ set comprised of mostly songs from Permission to Land. The set’s last three songs included “Stuck in a Rut," “Get Your Hands Off My Woman,” and “Growing on Me." At one point, Hawkins did a headstand up against Rufus Tiger Taylor’s drumset; as the last notes were played, the crowd began chanting for more, knowing full-well The Darkness was not done with them yet. There seemed to be something missing from the set that they just weren’t going to let go.
Justin Hawkins, now dressed only in a pair of light blue short shorts, teased the crowd after the band returned to the stage and played “Japanese Prisoner of Love” as part of their three song encore.
“Do you want to hear one more song or two more songs? Hold up your left hand if you want to hear two more songs.” Hawkins seemed to count hands, or rather drag out the inevitability of playing the most well-known song, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love."
“Alright, we’re going to play two more songs for you, but after this next one, the majority of you will probably leave the building,” Hawkins joked. But of course he presumed incorrectly. Cleveland doesn’t bail. Even after The Darkness played their #1 hit, the crowd stayed and cheered as the set ended with “Love on the Rocks with No Ice” as Hawkins rode through the crowd playing his guitar on the back of a security guard.
Diarrhea Planet were the openers for The Darkness on the Tour de Prance and earned considerable respect from the crowd by the time their set was finished. The band is made up of six friends (four guitarists, a bassist and a drummer) who just like to have fun and goof off on stage. But despite the crappy (pun intended) name, their contagious jollity, rock kicks, and guitar shredding make for a rowdy good time.
Review and Photos by Judie Vegh