Bare Chest and Pure Heart: The Darkness Explodes in New Jersey
Photos: Csilla Kajtar
On Saturday night, after crisscrossing the United States, The Darkness finally landed in New Jersey. The multiple award winning band from Lowestoft, England was celebrating 20 years from the launch of their meteoric platinum album, Permission to Land. This year’s tour has been both a joyous showcase of their past work, as well as a display of their evolving artistry.
Mirth Films made its way to the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ, to capture the show. From early afternoon, the venue buzzed with excited fans. Many were there for the VIP experience, which offered a peek into the soundcheck, a Q&A session, and for one fortunate fan, the opportunity to share the stage with the band.
The Darkness’ performance stood out as one of the most exuberant and musically adept shows in the contemporary scene. They prioritized entertainment, ensuring that the audience got more than just a musical rendition of their work. In an era teetering on the brink of AI-generated music, live music experience remains the artists’ currency that cannot be reproduced or repeated. Every show brings a different experience, and the packed Starland Ballroom bore witness to this fact.
At a first impression, a Darkness show is a roller-coaster of high energy and audience interaction. Delve beyond the fun entertainment, and you’d find a thoughtful approach to music, evocative lyrics, exquisite musicianship, and compelling storytelling. Their melodies are catchy, and the lyrics – touching on love, youth, and failure – are crafted with finesse that makes them relatable and profound. Justin Hawkins’ hauntingly beautiful voice adds another dimension, tempting one to lose themselves in the music, even twenty years after its original release.
The band played the entirety of Permission to Land, sprinkling in some additional tracks from that era which are now part of the Permission to Land… Again release. The whimsical “I Love You 5 Times” was a highlight of the show, especially as the band re-emerged for the encore, donned in silk bathrobes and slippers. Their iconic “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” electrified the atmosphere of bouncing fans, setting the room ablaze.
Setlist: Black Shuck, Get Your Hands Off My Woman, Growing on Me, The Best of Me, Makin’ Out, Givin’ Up, Love Is Only a Feeling, Curse of the Tollund Man, Stuck in a Rut, How Dare You Call This Love?, Holding My Own, Friday Night, I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Encore: I Love You 5 Times, Love on the Rocks With No Ice