The Darkness are making a comeback. The band’s front man, Justin Hawkins, just appeared in a Samsung commercial during Super Bowl XLVI. Although hardly anyone can remember what Samsung was trying to sell, the spandex-clad Hawkin’s performance of “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” managed to make a lasting impression. Immediately after the commercial aired, the song became the most downloaded rock song on iTunes.
This Super Bowl cameo coincides with The Darkness’ reunion tour, which began its run in 2011. The band only released two albums (“Permission to Land” in 2003 and “One Way Ticket to Hell … and Back” in 2005) before disbanding in 2006.
Though the British band has gained most of their popularity in the U.S. from “I Believe In A Thing Called Love,” they maintain a dedicated American fan base with a love for The Darkness’ entire body of work– a fact proven by the attendance at their Feb. 7 show at the Trocadero in Philadelphia.
Opening for the Darkness were the six members of Cincinnati’s Foxy Shazam. No strangers to the television spotlight either, Foxy Shazam have starred in a pair of commercials for Microsoft’s search engine called Bing. Additionally, their 2010 single “Unstoppable” was featured in last year’s Super Bowl.
They have released four albums since 2005. Their most recent album, “The Church of Rock and Roll,” was released on Jan. 24 of this year and was produced by Justin Hawkins.
The Hawkins-Foxy pairing becomes perfectly clear after examining the similarities between the two bands. Both The Darkness and Foxy Shazam have become known for their theatrical style and flamboyant band members. More importantly, both bands made Philadelphia go crazy.
Foxy played their many hits, including “Unstoppable,” “I Like It,” and “Welcome To The Church Of Rock And Roll,” with unmatched enthusiasm; the bearded Sky White stood atop his keyboard and danced for the audience, while front man Eric Nally jumped on the shoulders of guitarist Loren Turner and sang at the top of his lungs.
After listening to their addictive albums and marveling at Nally’s acrobatic vocal capabilities, I can report that his live voice will not disappoint any audience member — regardless of whether or not he or she has previously heard the recordings.
The end of Foxy’s set left everyone in the crowd with a wild grin and a desire to hear much, much more from the talented group.
After Foxy Shazam had warmed up the audience, The Darkness made their much-anticipated entrance. Drummer Ed Graham, Bassist Frankie Poullain, and brothers Dan and Justin Hawkins worked the City of Brotherly Love into a heated frenzy that would last for the rest of the night.
A dedicated mosh pit at the center of the crowd pulsed through “Love Is Only A Feeling,” “One Way Ticket,” and many other songs from both of their albums. When Hawkins announced that they would be playing a new song, however, the entire crowd calmed and listened with anxious ears. He sang to the crowd: “Everybody have a good time,” (as if they were not already) and fans realized that The Darkness can still deliver a simple, fun message with the same enthusiasm from their beginnings back in 2003. Hawkins explained that the new album, still in progress, would result in another tour in which Philadelphia would definitely be a stop.
As the show progressed, The Darkness’ strength inevitably built up to the moment everyone had been waiting for. After teasing the audience with a familiar opening chord, the band blasted “I Believe In A Thing Called Love.” The entire floor began to shake, and even the males in the audience were belting out their finest falsettos. The nearly four minutes of jaw-dropping madness ended with a dark stage and hundreds of sweaty people begging for an encore.
Not ones to disappoint, the band quickly returned to the stage to play their final song. At one point, Justin Hawkins climbed to the upper level of the Trocadero and proclaimed “I’m gonna do this!” His leap of faith (or his “trust exercise,” as he later referred to it on Twitter) found him in the arms of hundreds of screaming fans. People grabbed at Hawkins’s third outfit of the night, hoping that a bit of his charm might rub off on them.
In the end, of course, even those members of the audience who did not get a piece of Hawkins were charmed by The Darkness’ wonderful performance and the promise of a new future for this deserving band.
Molly Herbison is a first-year student at WCU. She can be reached at MH757997@wcupa.edu.