Enmore Theatre, May 10
IT'S TICKING TOWARDS 9pm, not that long before The Darkness appear to a room of rather disparate (young, old, male, female, sober, less so, badly dressed, boldly dressed, and a middle-aged man in red Crocs – the horror!), but equally hyped up for quasi-metal/pomp rock people.
Ear plugs are in, positions staked and throats are lubricated for the later mass falsetto singing of Get Your Hands Off My Woman Motherfucker.
But what's that playing through the PA? No! Oh yes: the whimsical, even fey, '80s pop song, Love Plus One, from that bunch of jumpers tucked into high pants boys, Haircut 100. To quote the swinging rifferama Mudslide, which we will hear soon enough, "this ain't no double entendre, this ain't no euphemism, this is real life".
It's also the kind of perversity, accidental or otherwise, which The Darkness would enjoy. Especially as a couple of songs hence we get the crunch, crunge even, of Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains The Same, and then the band arrives on stage to the are-those-bagpipes? strains of Abba's Arrival – which the younger folk in the room would just assume is a typically OTT Darkness fanfare.
There's your package folks. That is The Darkness writ large, and small: silly and knowing, unabashed rock and unashamed pop, undercutting pompous while still riding the pomp, over the top but somehow kept in check, and more fun than is usually allowed in nouveau wowser Sydney.
And that's even before the first chord of Black Shuck is played by Dan Hawkins (in full rhythmic hair-and-arms-in-unison Malcolm Young mode), Frankie Poullain (the skinny Colossus, legs set so wide you could sail a fleet through them), Rufus "Tiger" Taylor (long blonde hair flying over loud Hawaiian shirt and shorts) and Justin Hawkins (electric blue jumpsuit, zipper down to just above the modesty patch you really, really hope he's wearing for the sake of the delicate in the audience).
All this too before the appearance of 11-year-old Jessica, an uber-fan in black band t-shirt and leopard print/red lining coat, who comes down from the under-18s-friendly dress circle to tap dance - very well - through One Way Ticket To Hell … And Back, complete with a Justin-aping jump from the drum riser at the climactic, crashing climax.
(That's a song incidentally about a cocaine blitz which would make tryhard cokehead NRL players and executives look like, well, an 11-year-old girl.)
After maybe half a dozen trips to Australia now it has been established that there are two modes for The Darkness. There's ON: full bodied, powered up, everything been given. And there's … not there, you've gone to the wrong venue and found another band playing, because The Darkness actually only have one mode, ON.
So it probably doesn't add to the sum of knowledge in the world to say this show was hugely fun, timed judiciously (a 70 minute set, a two song encore – admittedly with a 15 minute wig out final burst of Love On The Rocks), mixed old and new songs (fresher material sounding more double-timed new metal than AC/DC-meets-Bon Jovi) and missing only maybe Dinner Lady Arms or Hazel Eyes.
You might have guessed some or all of that, sure. But would you have guessed tap dancing and Haircut 100? This ain't no euphemism ….