As the lights dimmed and the roar of the eager crowd grew louder, the band emerged under a cascade of strobe lights and smoke. Frontman Justin Hawkins, resplendent in his catsuit, immediately asserted his command over the audience with his soaring falsetto. From the first note of their opening song, "Black Shuck," it was clear that The Darkness was on a mission to bring back the glory days of classic rock.
The setlist consisted primarily of their classic album, Permission to Land, which they played in it's entirety. "Growing On Me" had the entire room singing along and Hawkins' ability to switch from operatic wails to soulful crooning was a testament to his vocal prowess.
Hits like "Givin' Up" and "Love is Only a Feeling" showcased the band's tight musicianship and had the energized crowd going crazy and proved to be a highlight throughout the night.
Guitarist Dan Hawkins delivered blistering solos that left jaws dropped, and the rhythm section, comprised of drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor and bassist Frankie Poullain, providing a rock-solid foundation for the sonic onslaught.
The audience interaction was a key feature of the night. Justin Hawkins' charismatic banter and interaction with the crowd created a sense of intimacy in the historic theater. At one point, he took a poke at the crowd and gave them a lesson in audience participation stating that when he sings a line and then holds the microphone out, that it's the crowds turn to sing the line back. With Justin's larger-than-life personality, he and an isolated concertgoer shared the spotlight as they sang back and fourth, which went over quite well.
The Vic Theatre felt like an intimate gathering of die-hard fans, all of whom were under The Darkness's rock 'n' roll spell.
One of the standout moments of the night was the performance of "I Believe in a Thing Called Love." The entire room had their cell phones out to capture video and Justin asked everyone to put away their phones and just enjoy the moment and not worry about posting a bunch of bad videos for the people not in attendance to see. With the cooperation of the crowd, the collective voice of the audience singing the iconic chorus was simply magical. It was a nostalgic journey to a time when rock anthems like this ruled the airwaves.
The encore was a fiery finale, featuring "I Love You 5 Times" and an explosive rendition of "Love On The Rocks With No Ice." The latter had the crowd in a frenzy, especially when Justin let the crowd know he would be singing the song in only his underpants. He even ventured out into the crowd sitting on top of a security guards shoulders.
As the final chords of their encore reverberated through the venue, The Darkness took their bows and this concert was not just a performance; it was a rock 'n' roll revival, a reaffirmation of the power of live music, and a testament to The Darkness's enduring talent and showmanship, proving that their energy and musical prowess had not waned over the years.
In an era of digitized and auto-tuned performances, The Darkness reminded us of the power and sheer joy of live rock music. They left the audience exhilarated, exhausted, and begging for more. The Darkness at The Vic Theatre on October 13, 2023, was an unforgettable night that will resonate in the hearts of Chicago's rock fans for years to come. Long live The Darkness!
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