Queen meets Judas Priest meets Def Leppard, say the detractors. Queen meets Judas Priest meets Def Leppard, say the defenders--and there are plenty of them. Justin Hawkins's crushed-testicles falsetto and his brother Dan's arena-size guitar hooks won the Darkness a handful of Brit Awards last month, not to mention a promise from Queen's Brian May to buy enough copies to send their Permission to Land (Atlantic) to the top of the charts. Which apparently he didn't need to keep: the album's gone quadruple platinum in the UK. In America, where we're a little tired of irony, lines like "I want to banish you from whence you came" and "Honey, I'm the scourge of all mankind" sounded a tad too Spinal Tap to trust, and the record only briefly cracked the Top 40 (cue violins). But as David Lee Roth can tell you, all the spandex and scissor kicks in the world couldn't have got the Darkness even that far without solid songcraft, and more than half of Permission is worthy of its influences. "Growing on Me," "Givin' Up," and "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" deftly reenact the Brit-metal stylings that today's detractors fell in love with as children. Still, the worst thing the Darkness could do is release a second album, which would only expose their limitations and destroy the simple but meaningful pleasures that their novelty enhances. The Wildhearts open; the show is sold-out. Saturday, March 27, 7:30 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield; 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Pat Ford.