Tempe, AZ — The Darkness returned to Arizona for a triumphant show as they celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album Permission to Land, and the special reissue collection that was released the day prior to the show: Permission to Land…Again. They last graced the Marquee Theatre stage in March of 2022 on their “Motorheart” tour. This October 2023 show was the 4th date of the US leg of the world tour celebrating their debut, and they played a setlist full of their biggest hits from that album and beyond. The Comancheros, a country/southern rock band from Missouri, opened the show with an infectious energy that warmed up the crowd for the high-octane headliner.
They began with their powerful song “Mississippi”, which electrified the room, and they followed up with a string of other hits, including “Long Hair”.
The band asked the audience if there were any beer drinkers and hellraisers in AZ while holding beer cans up in the air, then drank it up and kicked into their song titled “Beer Drinkers”.
They continuously engaged with the audience throughout their set and completed it with the songs “We Own the Night,” “George Jones,” “Cowboy Song,” “Drum/Gun/Chariot,” “Shoot Me Down,” and “Bird/Time Machine”.
On October 2nd, just five days before this show, The Darkness announced the launch date of their feature-length documentary, Welcome to the Darkness, that adds to their extensive discography with seven studio albums since their start in the early 2000’s. The film will arrive in cinemas for one night only on November 9th, and will then be available on Blu-Ray and digital download on December 4th.
The Darkness kicked off their set with a high-powered rendition of “Black Shuck.” Fans were immediately singing along and dancing fervently. The band followed that up with a string of their biggest hits, including “Get Your Hands Off My Woman,” “Growing on Me,” and “The Best of Me.”
Lead singer Justin Hawkins was in top form, delivering his vocals with power and precision. He showered the audience with guitar picks, ensuring the youngest fans got their concert memento by stretching and throwing as far as he could to get closer to them from the stage.
He had the crowd in the palm of his hand with his witty banter and stage presence. Guitarist Dan Hawkins, bassist Frankie Poullain, and drummer Rufus Taylor were also on fire, playing with some truly impressive musicianship.
During their performance, the engagement with the audience was ongoing, including a sing-a-long with a member of the audience, also named Justin (with Hawkins grinning after the audience member shared his name). The frontman also saw a group of 4 British fans in attendance, all dressed up in Union Jack patterned suits, with their companion in a full American flag outfit, wearing a bald eagle head mask that got thrown onto the stage. The drummer put it on and wore it while playing an entire song, before throwing it back to the audience member that threw it to the stage.
They closed out their set with a rousing performance of their signature song, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”. The crowd went wild, with smartphones raised from almost everyone in attendance, prompting Justin Hawkins to stop and playfully ask the audience to ‘place themselves in their place, and to not record the performance’ before starting back up and, delighting the audience with a fantastic show, giving it his all.
For their encore, they emotionally played “I Love You 5 Times” before the vocalist announced they had one song remaining, and with a mischievous grin stating, “but is a pretty f***ing long song.” The Darkness closed the set with “Love on the Rocks with No Ice”. The shower of guitar picks continued as the band did their goodbyes, with no pick left behind.
Overall, The Darkness put on an incredible show at Marquee Theatre. They played a setlist full of their biggest hits and deepest cuts, and they delivered a performance that was both energetic and entertaining. If you have the chance to see them on this tour, you will be lucky to witness one of the best live bands in the world, with (at the time of publication of this article) just 9 more dates left for the US leg, and 36 upcoming world tour dates before coming back to the US in 2024 for the Monsters of Rock cruise festival in Miami, Florida.
If you’re a fan of rock music, then you need to see The Darkness live, and they’re sure to put on a show that you’ll never forget. Make sure to catch a screening of their feature documentary on November 9th, or look for it on Blu-Ray on on its December 4th release date.
Photographer: Rodrigo Izquierdo
View Separately: The Darkness* | The Comancheros
*includes additional photos
The Darkness & The Comancheros – Marquee Theatre 10-7-23
Photography © Reagle Photography
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