British hard rock band, The Darkness made a triumphant return to Cleveland for a rockin’ good show at the House of Blues on April 24.  It has been 13 long years since these Brits graced the shores of Lake Erie with their brand of rock, style, wit and humor.

The quartet is comprised of three original members: Dan Hawkins (guitar), Justin Hawkins (lead vocals, guitar, and keyboard), Frankie Poullain (bass, cowbell) and newest member Rufus “Tiger” Taylor (drums).

The Darkness is currently supporting their 2015 release: Last of Our Kind, and opened the show with a rousing version of “Barbarian” from that LP.  They played a sampling from all four albums that they have released. They did however lean heavily on their platinum selling debut Permission to Land by playing 9 tracks from that album.

Justin Hawkins is a great front-man who commands attention. Whether it’s singing, dancing, playing the guitar or the keyboards; the audience wants to see what he will do next.  Some antics this evening included climbing on the drum riser and standing on his head and later getting on the shoulders of a roadie and taking a ride through the crowd while playing the guitar.  He’s part Freddie Mercury and part Angus Young.

The band played in Nashville the night before and Hawkins referenced this fact throughout the evening.  Noting that the band tried to fit in to the southern city by wearing “Wrangler denim shirts” and “cowboy boots” however, he said that they still didn’t feel comfortable.  “It’s not a bad city” he stated. “But it’s not like Cleveland!”

Frankie Poullain got to take the spotlight midway in the set for the intro to “One Way Ticket.”  After dangling a drum stick in front of the audience, he assumed the position in front of his mike stand.  With all the seriousness of Will Ferrell’s character from the famous Saturday Night Live sketch, he played the hell out of that cowbell.

Later in the show, Hawkins noticed a young lady from a previous concert.  He asked where he had seen her before and she said Silver Springs.  Justin quipped:  “Ah Silver Springs.  What a s***-hole that is.”   He then invited the lass on stage to dance to “English Country Garden” and she actually had a routine worked out which added to the fun.

The first set ended with the bands biggest hit: “I Believe In a Thing Called Love.”  Before the tune, Hawkins noted: “I don’t have to tell you to dance like I did in Nashville!”

The encore consisted of “Concrete” and “Love on the Rocks with No Ice.”  On the latter, Hawkins took the aforementioned ride around the House of Blues to get up close and personal with his fans.

The Darkness rocked Cleveland from the first chords to their final good-bye’s; proving that they are truly one of the last of their kind when it comes to putting on a great rock and roll show.

Let’s hope the band doesn’t wait another 13 years before making a return appearance to the North Coast.

RavenEye, a new rock band from England, played an inspired and enthusiastic opening set.  This trio has great chemistry and they are clearly having a great time on stage while playing great music.  They are out supporting their debut EP: Breaking Out.

RavenEye is one of the best opening bands that I have seen in many years.  This up and coming band is worth checking out.


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Greg Drugan has been attending concerts since 1982 and has seen everyone from AC/DC to ZZ Top. Classic rock is his forte, but he is also well versed in alternative and pop music. When not attending concerts, Greg can be found teaching history, psychology and the history of rock n roll at a rural high school where he also serves as the head track coach. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, reading and spending time with his family.