Justin Hawkins is one of the best frontmen in rock and roll. I have seen his band The Darkness multiple times in the United States. But those concerts pale in comparison to their recent Nuremberg, Germany performance. The crowd was there to rock. And The Darkness were more than happy to fulfill their wishes.
German concerts (or at least the only one I witnessed) is vastly different than shows in America. No one lines up to get into the venue. They just gather somewhere by the door and calmly enter. Getting drinks is a little complicated. They only take cash (an ATM with a high exchange rate saved us). Deposits must be paid on all mugs. They are plastic, but they want to be environmentally sustainable and give drinkers a reason not to throw them away. There is no moshing. People were there just for the music not to smash into each other. Almost everyone knows all the song lyrics despite the tunes being in English. They sung along with the band with great enthusiasm and jumped to the beat in pure rock and roll bliss.
Before the band took the stage, the house music played Boston, Time of My Life from The Dirty Dancing Soundtrack, and Thin Lizzy (The Darkness’ favorite band). The lights went down and the band appeared all dressed in angelic white (even the guitar tech). They began to play their new album Easter is Cancelled in its entirety starting with Rock and Roll Must Die. Justin’s famous falsetto was almost overshadowed by his wardrobe. The outfit revealed his bare chest displaying his tattoos and nipple piercings (a little something for the ladies). The band switched instruments with each other for the tune Deck Chair. The heartbreaking odyssey of losing furniture while on a cruise ship. The set ended with Justin Hawkins alone on stage playing the ballad Guitar Man singing, “Long live Rock and Roll.” The crowd was elated.
After a short break, the band appeared again in all different outfits. The bass player Frankie Paullain was in a smoking jacket. Drummer Rufus Taylor had on a black vest with no shirt. Guitar player Dan Hawkins was sporting a Thin Lizzy shirt and a black leather jacket, and Justin Hawkins had on a similar ensemble as before only this time in red.
The frontman spotted a long blonde-haired man wearing a denim Motörhead vest in the crowd named Leopold. Justin dedicated the song Growing on Me to him. Later in the night, Justin reminisced about how kind Lemmy, the late Motörhead singer, was to the band. Years ago they were playing a festival with the legendary speed metal band. When Justin hurt his hand, Lemmy offered to lend The Darkness their guitar player.
Other hits were played with equal enthusiasm such as Barbarian, Solid Gold, and One Way Ticket to Hell … and Back. In between songs, Justin Hawkins introduced himself to various members of the audience and remembered their names after several other songs were played while always recalling Leopold.
Instead of crowd surfing, Justin Hawkins acted if he was swimming through the crowd. He just pointed the way he wanted to go. That’s when the audience would hoist him in that direction. Before ending with their hit I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Justin confessed to the crowd that the previous night’s performance didn’t go well. But tonight’s show renewed their faith in Rock and Roll. Nuremberg’s crowd surely renewed mine.
See you at the next show. I’ll be the American standing next to a German rocker named Leopold.