The Darkness Believe in a Thing Called Fun for ‘Tour De Prance’ Opening Night in L.A.
America, The Darkness have finally graced our shores for their initial support stateside of the Pinewood Smile album. The band kicked off their "Tour de Prance" trek Thursday night (March 29) in Los Angeles at the Fonda Theatre, ready to let the good times roll just as the weekend is set to arrive.
Speaking to us last fall ahead of the now underway tour, singer Justin Hawkins stated his desire to get into Pinewood Smile with American audiences. "I suppose that's the final test really, when you stand there with your legs apart playing those riffs and see how you feel when you see the whites of their asses. The proof is in the pudding in that moment," said the singer, who can now see how well the new songs have translated live.
The fans came set to party, as the curtain rose to a symphonic keyboard opening and cheers welcoming The Darkness to the stage. The imposing golden mustard-colored suit-wearing bassist Frankie Poullain, the black tracksuit wearing guitarist Dan Hawkins, the leopard-print, open-chested onesie sporting singer Justin Hawkins and the fury of limbs behind the kit, Rufus Tiger Taylor, found their rightful places to the cheering crowd and started the show with a high energy favorite, "Open Fire."
They then took it up a notch, leading the audience in clapping along to the drumbeat through "Love Is Only a Feeling" before addressing the crowd for the first time. "We're in the Big Angel," stated Justin Hawkins, then egging the audience through a D-A-R-K-N-E-S-S chant, perfectly ending it with several more S-S-S's that eventually sounded like a locomotive picking up steam, tying in with the next song, "Southern Trains."
Hawkins, now clearly feeling the fun of the show, broke out a little Lord of the Dance-inspired jigging to start "Black Shuck," ending it later posing as a one-legged statue ascending onto Taylor's drumkit riser. Poullain got in on a little bit of the fun, first grabbing a drumstick, and directing the crowd with it, before then adding the cowbell for a stirring rendition of "One Way Ticket."
A little later on, "All the Pretty Girls" gave Taylor and Poullain an early song spotlight, ending with Justin Hawkins grinding against one of the back speakers. The Darkness never dipped too low on the fun factor, keeping the energy upbeat through the night. One instance came with Hawkins deciding he needed a new look, borrowing a red flannel hoodie, truckers hat and glasses from an assortment of audience members, pulling his hair out the back end of the hat into a ponytail. Happy with his new look, Hawkins then got the crowd to sing along as he prepped the intro for "Friday Night." Other standouts later in the evening included the band's orange-hued performance of "Barbarian," and "Solid Gold" which may be the most standout live track from the new disc.
Letting fans in on the announcement that they were recording the show for a future live album, The Darkness then dipped into the catalog for a trio of songs from their debut disc -- "Stuck in a Rut," "Get Your Hands Off My Woman" and "Growing on Me" -- with pits now starting to stir a bit more in the crowd. At one point during "Get Your Hands Off My Woman," Hawkins did the impressive feat of doing a handstand on the drum riser, clapping his feet to the beat of the song.
After a brief breather, The Darkness were summoned back to the stage with the audience doing the stomp-clap beat from Queen's "We Will Rock You." Hawkins, now shirtless and sporting only shorts, led the band through the Pinewood Smile favorite, "Japanese Prisoner of Love." Then, having a little fun noodling around a bit, Hawkins started and the band joined in a more loungy version of "I Believe in a Thing Called Love," letting the crowd singing the vocals. But that's no way to end a show: they riffed through a bit of Oasis' "Supersponic" before finally giving fans the fully-electric "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" they had hoped for. As the song came to an end, Poullain and the Hawkins brothers all joined Taylor on his drum riser, the jumped off in unison for the night's final beat.
A little earlier in the evening, Diarrhea Planet performed. The Nashville-based outfit delivered a raucous performance filled with exuberant stage presence and some wickedly heavy riffs. As Justin Hawkins would later remark when offering a nod to the six-piece, "Sooooo many guitars." With four guitarists who all sing up front and a bassist and drummer in back, Diarrhea Planet were a formidable force who brought up the energy in the room right from their opening face melting number.
Their set showed some range with such stellar tracks as the slow building "Kids," which ends with a heavy jam to the finish, and the incredibly infectious "Platinum Girls." "Music is easy," guitarist Evan Bird would remark at one point, before launching into a pit-stirring finale with his bandmates. "Let the Big Dawg Eat" reads the message on Casey Weissbuch's drum kit, and it's safe to say that Diarrhea Planet did just that.
Between the two bands, it was a night filled with infectious rock tracks, wicked licks and lots of audience interaction. Dates for the run can be found here. And be sure to check out our photo gallery from the tour kickoff show at the Fonda in Los Angeles below.
The Darkness "Tour De Prance" North American Tour Kickoff - March 29, 2018 Fonda Theater in Los Angeles
1. Open Fire
2. Love Is Only a Feeling
3. Southern Trains
4. Black Shuck
5. One Way Ticket
6. Givin' Up
7. All the Pretty Girls
9. Buccaneers of Hispaniola
10. Friday Night
11. Every Inch of You
12. Solid Gold
13. Stuck in a Rut
14. Get Your Hands Off My Woman
15. Growing on Me
16. Japanese Prisoner of Love
17. I Believe in a Thing Called Love
The Darkness / Diarrhea Planet "Tour De Prance" Kickoff Photo Gallery