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The Darkness Lands in Terminal 5 to Celebrate 20 Years of Their Debut

Rock and roll came alive in Terminal 5 this past Wednesday with British rock band The Darkness. In celebration of 20 years of their debut release, Permission To Land, the band is currently touring around the world, bringing the album back to life for live audiences to enjoy with support from different openers every night. The tour series, Permission To Land Again, will take over fifty-five stages internationally, having begun in San Francisco and ending in Miami after traveling through Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Forming in Lowestoft, England circa the 2000s, The Darkness consists of Justin Hawkins on lead vocals and guitar, his brother Dan Hawkins on rhythm guitar, Frankie Poullain on bass, and Rufus Taylor on percussion. The band sought fame in 2003 with the release of their renowned debut, Permission To Land, featuring classic hits from The Darkness such as “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” and “Growing on Me.” Their first album put The Darkness on the map in the hard-rock industry, gaining widespread recognition in the United Kingdom and earning quadruple platinum certification with over 1.3 million copies sold. In 2004, the band took home three Brit Awards including Best British Group, Best British Rock Act, and Best British Album for Permission To Land. Proceeding the release of Permission To Land, adversities arose internally between members causing Frankie Poullain and Justin Hawkins to step away from the music. In 2006, the band was dropped from their record deal with Atlantic due to poor sales, ultimately causing the band to officially break up.

In 2011, The Darkness shocked fans by announcing a reunion tour with all but one originating member, including performances at large-scale festivals such as Download and Isle of Wight. Over the next five years, The Darkness would release five more studio albums in addition to Permission To Land as well as a live album recorded over livestream during the 2020 pandemic. As of 2023, all of the originating members have rejoiced to revive The Darkness and celebrate over 20 years of their music.

Permission To Land marked the beginning of widespread commercial success for The Darkness and brought massive recognition to the band as a whole. Upon the release of the 2003 album, Permission To Land immediately scored a ranking of #2 on the UK top music charts and within days jumped up to the #1 spot where it found a home for an entire month. The album eventually went on to sell over 1.5 million copies in the UK alone, winning numerous awards for the stylistic approach and popularity of the tracks. Lead singer Justin Hawkins discusses the creative process behind Permission To Land in an interview with Metal Injection, “I would say that we didn't have an eye on the scene. We weren't thinking about the other bands and what they were doing, really.” In this way, "Permission To Land" is truly the epitome of The Darkness’ unique sound and style, “We recorded it all in two weeks … all self-funded. Nobody was helping us. I was doing jingles, you know, advertising jingles. And I paid for the album with some stuff I did for IKEA,” comments Justin Hawkins. The self-made album, Permission To Land, kickstarted the musical career of The Darkness, immediately establishing their authenticity and generating a die-hard fan base solely off the 11-song tracklist.

photo credit: Simon Emmett

Despite being the middle of the week, listeners packed in Terminal 5 for the return of The Darkness in Manhattan. As if the music isn’t enough to entice you to The Darkness’ performance, all four members stepped out on stage dressed eccentrically and eclectically, grasping the audience's attention before a single word was sung or a chord was strung. It is nearly impossible to take your eyes off stage when The Darkness takes over a venue. The glam rock band have become famed for their embodiment of a stage and their flamboyant personalities which overall harbors an easygoing, carefree environment for both the crowd and the band members to relish throughout the performance.

Justin Hawkins is truly an entertainer at heart, it is evident the lead singer belongs on stage, in front of live audiences, above anywhere else. Not only was Hawkins decorated in the most eye-catching garment possible, but the vocalist additionally made the entire stage his home by dancing and jumping around from one end to the other lyric after lyric. After only three songs into the setlist, Hawkins even flipped upside down, doing a headstand on the drum set during the instrumental outro of “Growing On Me.” Not to mention, Hawkins does all this while still belting out raunchy, ethereal rock melodies and filling in empty spaces instrumentally on guitar. Overall, the band is composed of four extremely polished musicians who have spent over a decade refining their art and mastering their instruments beyond their full capacity. This allows the members to experiment with the music while still maintaining an amusing set.

Feeding off their frontman’s unwavering energy, the instrumentalists of The Darkness additionally filled Terminal 5 with hard rock tunes that echoed through the walls of the venue and stuck in the heads of listeners. From the guitarist to the bassist and the drummer in between the two, the entire band is tightly-knit musically and overall comes together seamlessly for a rock and roll sound unlike any other of the genre. Dan Hawkins is lights out as a guitarist. The Darkness’ individualized sound is stockpiled with intricate guitar riffs and solos which Dan Hawkins translates to stages brilliantly, sounding almost identical to recorded tracks with an added layer of complexity intended solely for live performances.

Adding another depth to the guitar tracks is bassist Frankie Poullain, who is known for his signature Gibson Thunderbird IV bass guitar which features a reversed body design. Frankie Poullain acts as the foundation of The Darkness’ music with his experimental bass lines. Poullain has previously discussed taking influence from AC/DC’s bassist, including tight palm-muting and pick-plucking in a variety of The Darkness songs. Live, Poullain’s bass parts really come to life, adding a groovy, 80s-esque dimension to the music, making the sound digestible for generations young and old listening.

Finally, the person who brought everyone together on the beat is drummer Rufus Taylor. Taylor easily tops my list of best live drummers, he most literally acts as a human metronome on stage. Taylor has drummer piercing through his veins with renowned Queen drummer Roger Taylor as his father and the talented Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters as his Godfather. This is all to say, Taylor has been practicing drums since the beginning of his time, even so, his skillset has only become further enhanced by the utter joy Rufus Taylor has performing with The Darkness. Of all the solos integrated into the setlist, Rufus Taylor’s isolated drum parts were the most engaging and built entirely off improvisation, meaning if you see The Darkness more than once, you can be rest assured Rufus Taylor will surprise you every time. Keeping up with the energy of his bandmates while hiding behind a drum kit is no feat for Rufus Taylor who, during the middle of the set, jumped over his drum kit to the front of the stage, rejuvenating the crowd by generating screams and roars for his stunt.

photo credit: Gareth Parker

The Darkness are only a few dates into their worldwide tour series Permission To Land Again and are hitting just about every city imaginable. There is no better time to catch The Darkness performing live than for the 20-year celebration of Permission To Land. Snag tickets to upcoming show dates and keep up with the band for updates below!



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