The Darkness / Photo by Fally Afani

20 years ago, The Darkness released one of the most exciting rock albums of our generation. On Wednesday night, they proved that nothing has changed since their early days. If anything, the band has only gotten stronger, growing with the force of a hurricane and rocking their fans into oblivion. The message was loud and clear when they tore The Truman a new arsehole: these renegade rockers are here to stay.

The Darkness / Photo by Fally Afani

The English provocateurs are celebrating the reissue of their most iconic body of work, Permission to Land with a massive tour. They’ve been frequent guests in Kansas City since the album’s release, and every show lit a fire under the crowd’s butt. But there was a certain electricity that made this one the best yet. It’s no wonder their fans continue to pile into the shows year after year. They pulled out all the stops while they roared through the album in its entirety (while peppering a couple of favorites from that same era).

The Darkness / Photo by Fally Afani

Frontman Justin Hawkins is the eternal showman, perfectly balancing when to mercilessly shred away on his guitar and when to build a jovial rapport with the audience. He even rode around on a security worker’s shoulders throughout the entire crowd while wearing little more than a robe without faltering once in his solo. His bromance with drummer Rufus Taylor was on full display, from poking jabs at his father and calling him a “struggling musician” (Rufus Taylor’s father is Roger Taylor, of Queen) to shaving the man’s actual head onstage (video embedded below).


The Darkness / Photo by Fally Afani

This type of energy is served best boiling hot with audience participation. The Darkness’ fans were happy to sing along, dance, and even hold hands at Hawkins’ command. You don’t get this far with just years of experience. It takes a certain finesse to keep this type of momentum. Sure, doing a headstand and clapping your legs to the beat always helps, but there’s a hopefulness in this longevity that has ensured the band’s future with their fans. These fans grew (and aged) right alongside the band. But when The Darkness plays, it feels like time stops and suddenly you’re ageless. You’d hardly know that 20 years have passed at all.


The Comancheros / Photo by Fally Afani

Other bright spots in the night include Hawkins leading the crowd in a falsetto-laced birthday tune for an audience member, The Truman serving up a special drink for the evening named after the band’s song “Love on the Rocks With No Ice,” and getting introduced to Missouri rockers The Comancheros. Holy fuck where have these guys been! They look and sound like Lemmy Kilmister’s illegitimate triplets, and are an absolute must see for any local fans of rock and roll and grit.



Fally Afani is an award-winning journalist with a career spanning more than 20 years in media. She has worked extensively in radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and more.

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