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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Darkness hails from the U.K. with a '70s heavy metal thud

September 24, 2003|Steve Appleford | Special to The Times

Rock is funny. And not always on purpose. Consider the Darkness, a British hard-rock quartet with a name that maybe implies more grit and danger than it can deliver. At the Roxy on Monday, the band was all about pomp, bright colors and time-tested rock cliches.

At its best, the Darkness was a riff-churning monster in the AC/DC tradition, leaning heavily on the chunky chords of guitarist Dan Hawkins. Elsewhere, the sound was slicker, shinier, happier, as in the catchy, willfully shallow "Givin' Up." But the heavier the sound, the far better the results.

Singer-guitarist Justin Hawkins (Dan's brother) who was in full Diamond Dave mode, running and leaping in a zebra jumpsuit, dedicated himself to the mindless amusement of '70s-style arena rock. "Put your thumbs in the air!" he shouted.

But beware any band that brags of a singer with a range of multiple octaves, as if that made some kind of difference. In the case of the Darkness, it usually meant Mickey Mouse crooning at the high end of his voice. A little of that goes a long way.

The singer also referred to the band's current position at the top of the U.K. charts with its album, "Permission to Land," as if playing to a club again was simply beyond belief. But the set was not so different from what can be found at the nearby Viper Room's Metal Shop parody of '80s metal every Monday. Except without the punch lines.

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