The Darkness / APES
The Enmore, Sydney 13/11/2015
Review + Pics: Peter Zaluzny
Classic rock is just a name. It’s a style thing, but the “c” word doesn’t necessarily imply old. It just means that rock’n’roll attained perfection back in the day, which is why we need bands like The Darkness to keep it alive. And apparently Sydney agreed, because artists don’t come close to selling out a venue unless they’re doing something right.
Kind of garagey, kind of classic, kind of wavy and mellow but with plenty of rip-roaring riffs in between, opening outfit APES had refined their wild combination of all things rock in preparation for the night. But equipment can be a real jerk when it wants to, and this time it decided to kill the lead mic a couple of minutes into the set. Fortunately APES didn’t give a damn, laughing it off and entertaining the crowd while they fixed the problem.
Once things were fixed, APES put on a solid set that entertained the early arrivals. While the tunes amped up towards the end with screams, shreds and stage antics, most songs seemed to be plucked from the more laid-back section of their discography. The performance was excellent, though their relaxed rock felt a little misplaced as a precursor to The Darkness.
There’s nothing quite like the final show of a tour. People always bang on about how great it is to see a band at the beginning, when they’re energised and enthusiastic about kicking off the next run. But when the last gig rolls around, the band isn’t tired, they’re all warmed up and willing to go hard, take risks and do things a little differently.
Everyone expected The Darkness to bring a party to the packed out Enmore Theatre, but from the second they walked on stage, they didn’t just fire up the crowd, they brought the goddamn house down. Their wildly energetic performance was loaded with leaps, bounds, claps, cries and a few ventures into the adoring audience. The scale of the show, the lighting, the costumes, it all threw back to the glorious theatrics of rock’n’roll shows from yesteryear, backed up with a throng of hits, new tracks and a few vintage cuts.
“Get Your Hands Off My Woman” brought the party, with around 15 fans joining the band on stage to create a cowbell choir for “One Way Ticket”, and Sydney even saw the apparent live debut of “Conquerors” with bassist Frankie Poullain on lead pipes (he’s an awesome singer, for the record). And of course, “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” blew the walls apart while contradicting their earlier song/statement, “Love Is Only a Feeling”. Given the upbeat atmosphere on and off the stage, it’s safe to say that The Darkness side with love.
Their enthusiasm was palpable and their British sense of humour strong, with frontman Justin Hawkins referring to an attempted sing-along as “dreadful”. Nothing, not even the sole, shitty stage diver who somehow managed to knock down Hawkins’ mic – and soon became the “useless cunt” as a result – could kill the vibe.
Everything else went off without a hitch. The Darkness are at the top of their game right now, with four banging albums to their name, masterful musicianship, flawless vocals and a stage show that would make seasoned veterans blush with envy. When a band ends the set with the frontman playing a solo atop the promoter’s shoulders while being carried through the crowd, you understand the difference between a mere show, and a performance by one of rock’s greatest live acts.