June 11, 2018 The Darkness – Live At Hammersmith (Album Review)
Launching into the heavens, British Rock-n-Rollers The Darkness – Justin Hawkins (Vocals/Guitar), Dan Hawkins (Guitar), Frankie Poullain (Bass), and Rufus Tiger Taylor (Drums) – are simply enraptured to announce the release of their first official live album, Live At Hammersmith, available June 15, 2018 on Cooking Vinyl Records.
Over the last decade and a half, through incomparable spirit and a die-hard fan base, The Darkness have made evident that Rock-n-Roll is the most prolific and unstoppable genre on earth. On the cusp of the band’s acclaimed 2017 LP, Pinewood Smile, The Darkness set out on a mystifying sold-out tour of the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Europe, entitled Tour de Prance. Furnishing a gift that keeps on giving, The Darkness decided the time has come to award fans with the band’s first-ever live album. Capturing The Darkness’ incredible stage show, Live At Hammersmith boasts 19 live cuts from the band’s stacked catalog, including 9 songs off 2003’s grand slam, platinum-selling debut, Permission To Land. Commenting on this storied event, Justin Hawkins stated: “Life is about experiences, not possessions. This is your opportunity to possess the experience of The Darkness Live.”
A night to remember, Live At Hammersmith was recorded on December 10, 2017, at the world famous Eventim Hammersmith Apollo in London, England. Thanks to Motorhead’s live album No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith (not actually recorded at this venue), “The Hammersmith,” as it is often referred, has a rich history of performances by some of the most legendary artists in music from The Beatles to Bob Marley. So if there was one venue for The Darkness to record a live record, it could only be “The Hammersmith.”
Without a doubt, The Darkness are not just some ordinary band: The Darkness are a gang of rambunctious rockers who leave it all on the stage, and in some cases, on the audience. In a recent interview, CrypticRock asked Bassist Frankie Poullain what fans could expect on the aptly-titled Tour de Prance, and Poullain’s response says it all: “Four classic, old-school British men pouring their hearts into a pancake mix and serving them up with squirty cream and maple honey.” Even the cover of Live At Hammersmith features the band surrounded by llamas and a tiger, and why wouldn’t it?
That said, Live At Hammersmith gets off to a killer start with “Open Fire,” followed by the devotion of “Love is Only a Feeling.” Ushering in the unexpected, to much adulation, Justin tells the crowd the band will be performing some deeper cuts before kicking into the dizzying power chords of “Black Shuck,” and the liberating “Givin’ Up”. Next, The Darkness wonder if “All The Pretty Girls” would love them without their rockstar status before the climactic rise and fall of “Barbarian.” Off Pinewood Smile, The Darkness take aim at the high seas for “Buccaneers of Hispaniola” before the dreamy “Friday Night” remembers yesterday and high school dances. Worthy Rock song “Makin’ Out” energizes with an intro to remind fans of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” while “Stuck In A Rut” showcases Justin’s defiant falsetto. Colorfully, Justin introduces the next song as “Get Your F’n Hands Off My Woman, A-Hole” before the tender “Growing On Me.”
As the show gets festive, Justin proclaims “Season time has started!” to intro The Darkness’ holiday anthem, “Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End).” And finally, in one final smashing performance, The Darkness rip the roof off The Hammersmith with a decimating rendition of “I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” casting Live At Hammersmith in stone for all to enjoy.
A stimulating display of hysteria, Live At Hammersmith is a merry celebration of life, love, and Rock-n-Roll. Powered by Justin’s soaring vocals, Hawkins’ riff-happy guitar, Poullain’s rhythm, and Taylor’s beating drums, it doesn’t get much better than The Darkness live! Crank it up, CrypticRock gives Live At Hammersmith 4.5 out of 5 stars.