The Darkness – Pinewood Smile 6th October 2017

A sure, steady thumping bass welcome to Pinewood Smile is a goosebumpingly familiar and comforting preface to the expected and equally comforting explosion of vocals and guitar. Welcome in, indeed. The curtains snap open on the fifth album from The Darkness, leaving little doubt about the players on this musical stage. A little siren wail demands complete attention to the smallest detail of the show.

Curtains open, a plethora of scenes unfold. Emotions run from the joyous to perplexed, from sensuous to apoplectic, self-doubt to confidence and several in between – often in the one song. One should never ever take a Darkness song at face value. The music willfully belies the lyrics at times, and the lyrics bite as well as lift and soothe. A ballad as sweetly rendered as ‘Why Don’t The Beautiful Cry?’ lulls, but beauty and ugliness are not always straightforward. ‘Japanese Prisoner of Love’ is a rollocking rock romp, ending in choral and chord bliss, but who else would include Klaus in singalong opera? Bared souls meet bared arseholes (of all types) in this anthology of poetry.

Plots the long-term and acquainted alike will grasp securely are revealed by ‘All The Pretty Girls’, ‘Solid Gold’ and ‘Southern Trains’. ‘Solid Gold’ holds that glorious ‘fuck you’ attitude long held by the band towards a good many things, and here again for the Industry. The word ‘repertoire’ has probably not before sounded so much like ‘repeat twat’. The song has become a fan favourite already because it’s damn catchy, damn sweary, and because fans of The Darkness were at the ‘fuck you’ stage before their collision with the band. Or, they’ve achieved it on the journey. Speaking of journeys, ‘Southern Trains’ gives a much deserved smack to the gonads of a hated British ‘travel’ stalwart. ‘Up Yours’ style in the unlikely protest medium of impeccable heavy rock works rather well. I don’t know if The Darkness thought it would attract so much press, but the tabloids and broadsheets alike have paid it due attention at an opportune moment. ‘All The Pretty Girls’ is a fine mix of bewilderment at the choice of companionship available and sharp acknowledgement of the reasons.

‘Lay Down With Me, Barbara’ – a beautifully sensual, finely observed bundle of easy listening and tenderness coupled with the actual world – as always, Darkness lyrics anchor their higher ideals to normality in oddly endearing and relatable ways. ‘Happiness’ stomps rockness through and over 60’s harmony pop with the effect of both on your feet, endorphins and voice. ‘I Wish I Was In Heaven’ is born to make a jumping gig crowd the Heaven of choice – With You, naturally. ‘Stampede of Love’’s country blues touches butter up for a stonking firework display of sound. ‘Buccaneers of Hispaniola’ adds a touch of piracy to the proceedings with cheerful headbanging swashbuckling. That would be a catsuit and a half…

The music, either blasting or rippling as the vignettes unravel, is an unveiling. The Darkness have always been very very good at what they do. This is, though, a step forward in many respects. The production of harmonies and instrument layering are intense and almost orchestral in their own right. Justin’s voice has strengthened in the mid ranges without losing the impact of his gorgeously decadent forays into the upper reaches of the rock register. On the first album since his joining, Rufus stamps his presence and influence with assured drumming, on equal terms with the exceptional riffs and solos ripped from Dan and Justin’s guitars, and the deep booming pleasure paths wrought from Frankie’s bass.

The familiar and signature sound is here, both instrument and vocal, with a sureness that was certainly not absent before but now more explicit. Confidence heralded the weaving of other styles and tempos to create something wholly but sometimes differently Darkness. Full appreciation of the myriad deft touches will not come instantly, regardless of whether it’s love at first track listen or not. Those softer, slower interludes are a beauty in their own right, creating tales of their own in the midst of full on Darkness.

The telling of dramas is a masters’ craft of varied interpretation and performance where words alone will never suffice. What have The Darkness ever done but create vivid multimedia, multisensual miniatures of humanity?

Apart, of course, from rocking the bollocks off everyone and thing they come across.

Pinewood Smile is available from Ireland, Europe, UK and US tour dates announced. 

Dan the Saviour

by Jo

A fanfare for the uncommon man.. Daniel Hawkins, this week the saviour of news- and floof-starved darklings the length and breadth of the universe, blogged, and said universe partied. The boys are back!!! working and playing hard, writing, recording and rocking – doing what they do best for the good of all. And it sounds bloody good! (I guessed, educatedly, i have as much idea as you..) I was holding out for a hero, and lo… It might be uphill, but we’ll carry up to where you all should be, if we have to.

So, the debate now is – to be Darkness or not to be Darkness? (I’ve come over all literary)My tiny small opinion is not. Move on and up.. The Darkness image is too strong. Some would say that Queen managed it after Freddie died, but they’d been around for many years by then and all of them were ingrained in the national psyche. TD haven’t been, sadly. Let’s get Ed, Richie and Dan known by millions, as they deserve. Queen also managed to preserve their iconic sound – whether it’s Richie or someone else singing, TD will find that a tad tricky, so why bother trying? Off with the old, and on with the new. These boys won’t be caught with the Emperor’s Clothes.

Anyway.. let’s go rockrockrockrockrockrock…

Ahem. Where’s the valium? Darklings in need!

At last! News!

by Jo

It’s been very strange year, everything in my personal and band life has kind of turned upside down. I’d just like to thank fans of The Darkness for their amazing support over the last few years, and your continued support for My, richie and Ed’s up-coming musical venture (yes we are definitely not down and out!!!). Since Justin’s announcement that he has left the band we have been working incredibly hard. I would just like to let you know (for the first time in this blog) that I AM o.k, very happy in myself, and confident musically with where we are going, and cannot wait to get back out and rock again!!. I can’t give anything else away at this point but will try to keep up my MySpace entries etc….lots of love and thanks…dx

Rally To Hell

by Laurie (with Dori)

This is an personal account of two dedicated darklings who were able to go and talk to Dan and Justin.. don’t be jealous, that’s not what they wrote it for. I asked them to, just to share, cos no one else could get there.. just enjoy and rejoice in their luck.

Dori, her sister & I get to the CCCM and see some
people around and they turned out to be the other
members. We asked if we could go in and look at the cars and they said sure. So we go in and check out the cars – saw Justin’s ride and Dan’s was the only Rolls there. So that’s when I got the car pics.

We go back outside and wait. They had the street
blocked off and the cars were parked out on the street too. We were on the sidewalk standing around and then Dori turns and looks. “Justin!”

I turn around and there’s Justin with his suitcase
right behind me! “Hi!” Justin tells us, and then wemove so they can get through. Dan also says hi and we just watch as they go towards their vehicles.

Dori didn’t want to bother them but I walked in the garage and there was Dan. He kinda looks at us and smiles and says hi again, and I’m standing right by the trunk of the car as he loads his stuff in the backseat and then he loads up his suitcase in the car’s trunk.

Anyway, he goes back to talking with the guys from the club and we stand around a bit and watch them as they chat. Finally I get bold and go up to Dan as he’s looking through his itinerary. I told him we had the petition to give him and Dori gets it and hands it to him. I just said we did it to let them know that they have fans here that care about them and love them and want them to come back and play, and he’s looking at me and smiling and nodding and agreeing with me about the fans.

He said, “Well I was just on the phone with the record company this morning, so… We’ll see!” He did look through all the pages of the petition and Dori said we had 600 names and we were trying for 1,000. Dori also told him about the US Street Team and I said, “This is Dori, she does the Daily Dose of Darkness Site!” Dan smiles at her and goes, “DDD!”

Then she gets out her catsuit and shows it to him and I think she also said she was at the British Whale shoot (and I also mentioned that we went to some UK shows and he asked which ones. Me: Newscatle, Brighton, Manchester and Nottingham and Dori went to Manchester). I think that’s when Justin was there and Dori also showed him her catsuit and he asked if it was a riding suit or something and Dori’s all, “No, it’s a catsuit!!” LOL

Later I gave Justin that beaded visor. I totally
forgot it was a women’s size visor. Justin put it on and goes, “It won’t fit over my big head!” I asked for a pic of him in it and he’s all, “I’ll come back!! But he didn’t – liar!! LOL!!

Note from Dori: He called his head humongous when he tried to get the visor on. Ha! I asked Dori if she wanted them to sign her catsuit and she said yeah, so I led the charge back in the garage and asked Justin if he would sign it and he did. It says, “Dori – nice suit! Justin Hawkins”. We thank him and then move on to Dan. He says sure he’ll sign it, and then he does (they both put it on Dori’s back to sign it!! LOL!)

I asked for a picture again and he said okay, so
that’s when Dori took that one. Then I look at his
ride and go, “Oh is this your car” and he grins.

“It’s not mine, but it’s the one I’m driving.” I’m all, “Oh cool! You’re gonna have SO much fun! Don’t get in trouble!” or something like that.

So we got back outside and that’s when Justin was
posing with his car. He was so funny! He made a
comment about his co-driver wearing a shirt that was very “Brokeback Mountain” and then when he was
leaning over the car door, that’s when he said
something about “Whitesnake!”

Then they all load up into their cars and drive off. Dori said she waved to Dan and he waved back at her. I was too busy snapping pics to wave. At one point Justin was on the passenger side of his car and he was looking over and smiling at Dan. It was so cute! It wasn’t until after they drove off and I looked at the pics and saw that Dan had the visor hanging from the driver’s side mirror! I almost died when I saw that! It was so cool!

Anyway, we left a note for them at the CCC thanking them for taking the time to talk to us, and again mentioned that there are fans here who want to see them on a tour. We asked the dude there if they were coming back to NY and he said “Probably!” and said he would give them the note.


Pupils I’ll never forget

Pupils I’ll never forget

by From TES

Grant Westoby was present at
the birth of The Darkness
Dan Hawkins was an unassuming,
intelligent young man; quite a thinker in a
way. I taught him GCSE English and he had
a nice, incisive style of writing. He was
imposing—about 6ft 3in — but gentle and
introverted compared to his brother Justin,
who was much more flamboyant and used
to wear black nail varnish. They were
friends with another lad, Ed Graham, who
was always tapping pencils. The three of
them used to walk around school like
wandering minstrels. Dan was in a number
of local bands.
Dan left school at 16 and I didn’t hear
any more about him until 10 years later,
when a colleague passed me a copy of the
Eastern Daily Press and said “Look, this
guy’s about to hit the big time and he
remembers you.” There was an interview
with Dan, who was now guitarist in The
Darkness [justin is the vocalist and Ed the
drummer] in which he said I was an
inspiration. It’s nice when you bump into
ex-pupils in the street or hear they have
got a degree, but for Dan to remember me
in that way was great. 1 contacted the
band’s management and went to see him
when they played a gig before the Brits.
We had a drink together and he paid to
put me up in a hotel. It was a bit surreal,
but just like meeting an old friend really.
The school was having a new music
suite built, so 1 asked if the band would
come and officially open it. They did, and
they donated thousands of pounds worth
of equipment: guitars, drums and
amplifiers. It was really overwhelming.
When they came back to the school,
Dan gave me a signed apple that said
“Thanks teach!” in black marker pen — I
have put it in formaldehyde — and I bought
him Philip Pullman’s Hi’s Dark Materials
trilogy. Now we have a plaque on the wall
and signed posters to show other students
they can achieve. Lowestoft is not exactly
a sleepy place, but The Darkness is one of
the biggest things to happen to the town
for a long time. A deputy head used to
bellow at them: “Silence! You’ll never
make a living out of making a racket.” It’s
nice to be proved wrong.
Grant Westoby is head of the alternative
curriculum at Kirkley high school in Lowestoft,

Dan Hawkins Fansite

by Emma

THE Dan Hawkins Site

Well, where to start!! Created by Lisa Lomas, a devoted fan of Dan and The Darkness, THE Dan Hawkins Site proves to be one of the most fun-packed and informative fansites I have stumbled upon so far. I say ‘stumbled upon’; however this site was actually recommended to me by one of my Darkling alliances! If you want to know anything about Dan, what he’s been up to recently, his home town…literally almost anything at all…look no further! This site has it all.

News: The news section is updated at the very least two or three times per week and brings to you up to date information about tours, updates and additions to the site, TV and radio appearances, all wrapped up with a twist of humor from Lisa!

This lady has thought of everything! There is a Frequently Asked Questions section which covers readers’ questions ranging from the common queries about when and where he was born to slightly more personal questions from fans who seem to think that Lisa includes ‘psychic’ on her list of talents!! This makes for a fun and enlightening read.

For those fact-hungry Dan fans there’s a full biography section which provides you with plenty of information about the man himself. The wide range of features also includes a mouth watering pictures section (we know that’s the first place you’re heading!), interviews, tour dates, video stills, quotes, other links, Dan’s guitars, discography…the list goes on!

Just so that they aren’t left out, there’s a feature on the rest of the Darkness boys, including a rather tasty snap of each one. I have to tell you, my favorite is the Frankie section – this really did make me chuckle although to find out why you will have to look for yourselves as I am not giving the game away! Sorry! My only wish was that the honorary fifth member (Pedro of course! After all, he plays his important part in each show) was included too.

One particular favorite of mine is the feature on Lowestoft, the boys’ home town. We have all heard Justin’s crooning about the Golden Mile and Barnby Bends, well now is you’re chance to have a glimpse of the town. For those that fancy undertaking a tour of Lowestoft there’s even a map of the town and a handy pointer on where to get a decent cake!

If I have wet your tongue to this very popular site, why not have a browse. There’s a guestbook and message board waiting for you to post your comments and ideas, or you can simply have a chat with some of your fellow Darklings.

So what are you waiting for Darklings? Optimum Impact gives this fan site a great big thumps up!


(Please note that the main site is no longer open. March 2008)