"...We attempt to scream his face off by repeating call-and-response profanities back and forth during Get Your Hands Off My Woman."
A flood of hardcore fans storm into Forum Theatre as local rockers Apes get everyone jacked up with their explosive rock'n'roll. Their loud and ferocious sound, full of vocal screeches and trilling guitar riffs, hits us hard and fast like a sledgehammer. They're excited to play their newest single Dimension with relentless energy as it builds to a shout-worthy chorus.
The instrumental sounds of swirling bagpipes fill the air as ABBA's Arrival welcomes The Darkness to the stage. The crowd's metal horns immediately shoot up above heads to signal that they're ready to rock on. "Give a 'D'! Give me an 'Arkness'!" yells frontman Justin Hawkins as they launch into their supercharged fusion of heavy metal and glam-rock. He confidently struts around the stage with flamboyant style as he shows off his fancy electric guitar work and soaring, high-pitched falsetto that threatens to burst our eardrums.
Introducing his right-hand man and brother Dan Hawkins on electric guitar, followed by bassist Frankie Poullain to his left, The Darkness rip into One Way Ticket To Hell… And Back, which generates a huge crowd response of cheering and non-stop headbanging. Their live presence is superb and we're continually excited by their playful showmanship and charisma. It's great to hear new material from their latest album Last Of Our Kind but old favourites like Love Is Only A Feeling and the piano-driven Friday Night prove to be the biggest crowdpleasers.
We're introduced to their new drummer Rufus Taylor, with Queen's rock royalty pumping through his blood, and he absolutely slays his kit on a brand new, yet-to-be-recorded song we're told will be coming out next year. There's no doubt he's a fine addition to the band.
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Hawkins teases us about his preconceived ideas about Melbourne crowds being a bit standoffish and quiet. We're ready to prove him wrong as we attempt to scream his face off by repeating call-and-response profanities back and forth during Get Your Hands Off My Woman. He lets us know that he's impressed as he jumps into a handstand in front of the drum kit, clapping his feet together high in the air.
The infectious I Believe In A Thing Called Love brings the 90-minute main set to a close. The crowd stomps down the theatre until they come back for a three-part finale. We're excited to learn that The Darkness will be coming back to Australia next year with even more new music on the way for us to get excited about. And if it's anything like the energy the band brings to this performance then we're in for a real treat.