rebecca blissett photo
By Steve Newton
See that wicked concert shot by ace Vancouver photographer Rebecca Blissett of the Darkness guitarist Dan Hawkins standing at the edge of the stage, ripping it up on his cream-coloured Les Paul to the obvious delight of the crowd?
See that “Oh my god, this fvckin’ rocks!” look on the short-haired guy’s face?
Well, I know exactly how that dude feels, because I was having my own “Oh my god, this fvckin’ rocks!” moment at the very same time.
It was February 24, 2012, and I was seeing the Darkness for the very first time at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver. In my review of the gig that was posted on Straight.com the next day I mentioned how it was one of the finest shows I’d seen at the historic venue since Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers played there in ’78 on the You’re Gonna Get It tour.
The Darkness’s rampaging guitar noise would have been enough on its own to satiate any devotee of ’70s-style hard-rock, but they just kept pulling off the neat tricks anyway. At one point Justin Hawkins flicked a guitar pick, bounced it twice off the side of his foot, and caught it.
I’d like to see Tom Petty do that.
Not to be outdone by the likes of Angus Young, Hawkins hopped on a roadie’s shoulders during the encore and got carried around the Commodore dance floor while laying down all matter of nasty guitar licks. That was about the time that I decided this was probably the best concert I’d ever seen.
Next to Thin Lizzy, of course.
The good news for Vancouver-area rock freaks is that the Darkness is headed back to the Commodore on October 13, touring behind its fourth album, Last of Our Kind. I called Dan Hawkins up at his home in London a couple of weeks ago and, lo and behold–even though it happened over three-and-a-half years ago–he still remembers that Commodore gig.
“I do, actually,” he said, “very, very clearly. ‘Cause we came off saying it was one of the best shows we’ve ever done. And just what an amazing crowd, and an amazing venue.
“We weren’t expecting it at all,” he added, “we’d never played Vancouver before. And it was really special.”
For more from Hawkins–including recollections of his earliest guitar influences and details on Last of Our Kind‘s “massive riffs”–stay tuned.