Live Review: The Darkness – Let There Be Rock @ Festival Hall, Melbourne

6 February 2024 | 9:38 am | Claire Dunton

The energetic lineup included You Am I performing their Spinal Tap tribute show, DZ Deathrays, Cry Club and a DJ set from Eleven & Denim.

The Darkness

The Darkness (Credit: Gareth Parker)

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The Let There Be Rock tour is in celebration of 20 years of Permission to Land, The Darkness’ debut album which gifted the world I Believe in a Thing Called Love and enshrined the four-person band into multi-platinum rock loyalty. The Darkness performed the entire Permission to Land record with some additional tracks on Saturday at Festival Hall in Melbourne, the first show of the limited tour. The undeniable stage presence and theatrical performance made us feel like it was 2003 all over again hearing this record for the first time.

The rock glam aesthetic of The Darkness gave the performance such a fun and exciting edge, so much so that their visual and musical identity is intrinsically linked. Lead vocalist and guitarist, Justin Hawkins, donned a skin-tight red and black leather one-piece suit, jumping and riling the audience up with movements and stunts borrowed from an era past. Bassist Frankie Poullain was equally on point in a loud suit and accessories, stealing the show on many tracks with his energy.

The artists supporting The Darkness at Let There Be Rock are all Australian, with the name of the event a nod to Australian rock legend, AC/DC and their fourth studio album of the same name. The energetic lineup included You Am I performing their Spinal Tap tribute show, The Majesty of Tap, DZ Deathrays, Cry Club and a DJ set from Eleven & Denim.

You Am I was a close second to The Darkness taking the night to eleven with their phenomenal The Majesty of Tap, reminding the audience just how relevant the 1984 Spinal Tap moment still is, 39 years later. The group took their time with their tribute, giving tracks like Stonehenge and Tonight I’m Going to Rock You new life.

You Am I last performed The Majesty of Tap tribute in 2018 at the Corner Hotel in Richmond, but the energy was high on Saturday potentially due to the recent news of the This is Spinal Tap sequel announced creating a buzz and resurgence for the group.

You Am I also rounded out 2023 with a regional tour to get back to the albums that they haven’t played in years, with a new LP hinted for 2024. With eleven studio records under their belt and thirty years of playing together, the ease and flow of the four-man Sydney-born band is incredible to watch with a live audience joining in on the energy.

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Brisbane-based DZ Deathrays delivered a high-energy set for the audience and pulsing mosh pit, opening the performance with Gina Works at Hearts from their debut Black Rat album, followed by tracks from their six studio albums. DZ Deathrays’ most recent album, R.I.F.F was released in June of 2023 and there was a wild reception for Hope for the Best. Performing the night before in Geelong, the boys will complete the Let There Be Rock tour in Brisbane and Sydney before heading to Canada for their R.I.F.F tour which consists of eleven shows in different cities across the country.

Pop-punk duo Cry Club was the perfect addition to the ticket and opened the evening's performances with a bang. Lead vocalist Heather Riley transfixed the audience with their performances, throwing body and heart into each track as they made their way across the stage. Guitarist Jono Tooke also got to show off his musical chops with an incredible guitar solo, warming the Melbourne audience for the night ahead. Cry Club is known for their onstage attitude and our there outfits and they did not disappoint on Saturday night.

The Darkness will start their international tour on March 2, starting in Miami and concluding in the UK towards the end of August. The Darkness has produced six studio albums since their debut album, Permission to Land, with the most recent Motorheart released in 2021. Over the years the band has seen founding members leave, and new band members join with more changes to the formation than you often see.

Melbourne was the first of the three Let There Be Rock shows, with the Brisbane show on Wednesday, February 8 at Fortitude Music Hall and Sydney on Saturday, February 10 at Hordern Pavilion.