The Darkness | El Rey Theatre | 3/15/2022

Article Contributed by L. Paul Mann | Published on Thursday, March 24, 2022

Guitar-driven rock was alive and well at the historic El Rey Theatre in West Los Angeles on an otherwise sleepy Tuesday night, March 15th. The English glam rock band The Darkness brought their long-delayed tour to the West Coast, much to the delight of a packed theater full of fully vaccinated super fans. The pandemic delayed the group's previously scheduled tour for so long they had a whole new record to add to their impressive catalog, ‘Motorheart,” which was released last November.

El Ray Theatre | West Los Angeles, CA

The El Rey is a little piece of California history nestled in the Miracle Mile area of the Mid-Wilshire region of Los Angele. Clifford A. Balch designed the art deco theater. The prolific architect designed dozens of theaters in southern California between 1914 and 1939. Much of the theatre, including the lobby, still retains its art deco roots and is well known for its Zigzag and Streamline Modern design trimmed in neon lights.

The Dead Deads | El Rey Theatre

The all-female Nashville-based trio The Dead Deads opened the show with a punk-inspired multi-genre rock smorgasbord of dance-inducing rhythms. The band opened with a jarring tune, “Tinkers and Preyers," from their new album “Tell Your Girls It’s Alright. The punky power trio captured the crowd's attention immediately and had the packed audience dancing and singing along for the entire show. Singer-guitarist Leticia Wolf led the musical assault with impressive tunes like “Push Me” and “Deal With Me.” More punk-tinged songs like “Ghosts” and “Sea Beasts” followed. The band even managed to play a ballad of sorts with the melodic tune “Hey Girlfriend.”

The Darkness | El Rey Theatre

The overflow crowd in the theater began to pack tightly around the stage during the intermission in anticipation of the headline set. The Darkness is a British rock band formed in Lowestoft, England, in 2000. The band consists of lead singer and guitarist Justin Hawkins, his brother guitarist Dan Hawkins, Frankie Poullain on bass, and Rufus Tiger Taylor on drums. The band first became popular with the release of their debut album, “Permission to Land," in 2003. With their latest release, the group has seven albums in their catalog. The band took the stage with an Abba tune “Arrival” playing in the background. The lively group immediately launched into a raucous rock-drenched song, “Welcome to Tae Glasgae," as the crowd roared their approval. The quartet, looking much like a 70s or 80’s hairband, launched a dichotomy of fierce guitar-driven rock encased in a happy-go-lucky glam rock performance. Justin Hawkins was the most visible part of the group's searing set.

Justin Hawkins | The Darkness

The energetic singer pranced about the stage much like a Freddie Mercury-inspired rock icon. The singer strutted and raced around the stage jumped off the drum set repeatedly, engaging the crowd at every turn in the music. Hawkins sported multiple costume changes throughout the performance, stripping down to next to nothing by the end of the set. But he also evoked classic rock with his high-pitched wailing vocals. At times the show resembled a Spinal Tap performance by the likes of Derek Smalls. At other times the group engaged in fierce jams showing their bonafide rock credentials. Hawkins's brother Dan played a steady thundering rhythm guitar while bassist Poullain matched him with earth-shaking bass lines. Drummer Taylor held it all together with his explosive drum beats. The talented drummer is the band's newest member and is the son of rock royalty, Queens drummer Roger Taylor. The band’s clever set built a feverish momentum in the crowd. By the time they played the tune “Heart Explodes," they had the entire audience loudly clapping in unison. The band ended their 16 song set with an encore featuring their biggest hit, “I Believe In a Thing Called Love,” creating the biggest sing-along of the night. For all their glitz and glam, The Darkness is fundamentally a dam good rock band and proved on this night that live Rock music is far from dead.

El Rey Theatre | March 15th, 2022

Check out more photos from the show.