Hot Leg – Red Light Fever

Tongue tied is not my normal state. I do rabbit on, and when I’m reviewing something I get all flowery. I like words – but this time, they haven’t liked me and this particular review has taken AGES to write. Knowing what you want to say and not being able to do it is just the pants… Got there in the end!


Hot Leg. Début album. Doormat. Mad rush to electrical appliance – open the envelope, stupid girl! Insert contents, turn power on, settle back for ten intense bursts of bliss. Repeat as necessary.


I’ve got, in my hands and ears, songs to melt to. I’m lucky – I’ve heard all of them more than once live, except for Kissing in the Wind. I know them, recognise them, they’re virtually godchildren!  Wasn’t at their conception, of course, I missed out on the messy bits. It’s very different when you have a nice undistorted sound. Nobody’s shouting in my ear, I’m not trying to take photos and I don’t need to worry about being able to see. I can just relax and truly listen. And yes – to those who asked – I like it. Love it. 


There’s more layers than I’m used to hearing, both instruments and voice. Some vocals are startlingly choral, like in Chickens, and there are layers of Justin’s voice everywhere. His singing swoops and soars as it ever has done, more easily I think. It sounds more assured. There’s more mid-range singing, which I’ve always liked.  Kissing in the Wind and Ashamed are prime examples. Speaking of Ashamed – the nation’s future anti populist tv protest song – there’s a glorious brief moment when Beverlei Brown’s voice slips in beside his, and the two are inseparable until she takes off on her own. Her smooth depth of tone match his beautifully – it was a surprise first time to realise it wasn’t Justin. I want more of that! She makes it sound so easy, dammit.     


I suppose you expect me to eulogise about the guitar playing? Quite right too. Well, it’s as brilliant and beautifully executed as you’d expect. Whatever the flavour – rock solos, bluesy intros, delicate fingering in Trojan Guitar – it’s spot on. Keyboards are prominent – lovely synth in Chickens made me smile – and piano in Kissing in the Wind. You’re not going to get an album without those in!  There’s often a heavy pounding rhythm, bringing Man Rock down to deep and dirty under those deceptively catchy bits that are more Velcro than hooks. You’ll find changes of tempo within songs rather than across the album as whole, but there’s plenty of variety.

I’m not going to dwell on The Darkness. If you hear TD in this from time to time, why should it be a surprise? Some songs were written in 2002, right back in the hard slog days. Justin wrote and recorded this album, working on it for months before Hot Leg were finalised. The future writing will be interesting, collaborating with the rest of Hot Leg.


Have a very careful listen to the lyrics. Ponder them. Draw your own conclusions where you need to. Love songs have realities embedded in them – you can’t have slush without slipping on it sometimes. Prima Donna and Trojan Guitar have their own histories and meanings. However you read them, it’s obvious that Justin’s lyrical adroitness isn’t a flash in the pan. A word or two can change the entire point, feel and thrust of a sentence or song. In Kissing in the Wind, it’s one consonant. That song could be as much about Justin’s fans as the lover it addresses, to my mind. Can’t wait to hear it live.  


Apart from I’ve Met Jesus, which has been top banana since I first heard it, I can’t pick out songs to put above others. They all have something that delights or intrigues. Any disappointments? No. I think I might have preferred to have Extraordinary Woman rather than Chickens, I rather like that song. And Come Into My Arms – mmm, yes, then Cupboard Love and Automa… can’t have too much of a good thing. Albums should have B-sides!  The main problem with the whole album? Listening to it in comfort, I’ve discovered I’ve been singing lyrical bollocks of my own devising all these months. Oops *blush*. 


Red Light Fever inflames the senses, it’s true. Drives one to sing and dance, headbanging (can you airheadbang?), and if you’re DEFINITELY alone in the house, striking silly poses at the same time as the above.  Are these not indicators of truly good music? No? Then music’s not fun any more. I want Rock with a bit of life about it, some humour, reality and one or two things to ponder. And some Man, just to spice it up a bit.


Red Light Fever is  out on 9th February 2009, and  available from ,, and . Townsend have a bundle offer on the next single Cocktails, out on 23rd February. They also have the red vinyl LP version.


Track Listing:

1. Chickens
2. You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore
3. Ashamed
4. I’ve Met Jesus
5. Trojan Guitar
6. Cocktails
7. Gay In The 80s
8. Prima Donna
9. Whichever Way You Wanna Give It
10. Kissing In The Wind

SixSister on Tour – Hot Leg and Hot Nights


Justin Hawkins’ first gig since the demise of The Darkness, with his new band. Proud Galleries, Camden, August 6th. That was my goal as  I set out on an overly airconditioned train to the heats of the capital. After a few false starts, I ended up in the pub with like-minded eccentrics, having got changed at Liverpool Street Station. I can’t drink, I find, or eat much. Too hot, and I’m nervous for the lad.


WTF is this ticketing arrangement? If I’ve bought a ticket I don’t really want to have to wait whilst my name is found on a list of people who’ve bought tickets, at the door… Boo hiss to that, on both nights.


Once in, I wander around a lot, bumping into a lot of people and having a natter. Can’t really stay still though till it’s time to take my place (and camera) at the front. Tonight I can’t watch the support, even if Justin excitedly informs me (again!) that he produced them. Tomorrow, I will.


The crowd here is pretty much partisan. Most are the faithful, or on the 200 strong guest list of family and friends. The rest are press, and with a few exceptions (Mr Price, I mean you) are felt to be rather parasitic. Hyenas, even. We’ll ignore them, mostly, shall we? That’s ever been the way of darklings. Here in this room is gathered an enormous amount of goodwill, affection and hope – for the whole band, but mostly for Justin. It is an emotional moment for very many in the crowd.


He bounds onto the stage, plain black shirt and tight trousers of the kind that he was born to wear. Blonder than ever, looking good and healthy and fit. The rest of the band are similarly clad in jeans that surely must have been sewn on, and all in the headbands that HL followers have been giggling over for weeks.


From the minute they start with ‘Theme from Hot Leg’ to set the scene of defiance and mayhem, it’s pretty clear that this will be FUN. It’s a nervous start, with understandable tensions. I don’t imagine that having photographers up your nose for the first three songs really helps your concentration or nerves. Doesn’t help the audience either, dammit! Caught in the glee of rocking out, it’s not an issue though. After the lenses have gone, relaxation sets in and Justin settles in to his natural habitat. That’s the defining moment, when Justin became JUSTIN again. From then on, it was showtime. He’s lost nothing of his talent, presence and tricks. The tight jeans are revealed as slutpants when the shirt comes off, as well as a pair of startling manpants – yellow and hotpink. Lord above, boy, wear low rise thongs… knickers made of kiddy sweets are a bit much for one of my age. The tennis outfit proves popular too. I swear, there’s no VPL on my photos… Plenty of superb new and old tatts, though.


Back to the music. Most of the songs were familiar to those who’ve been around for a fair while, and engendered a fair amount of singing along. They’re all damn catchy anyway, so it’s possible to join in after a chorus. Try it!  ‘Trojan Guitar’ is better live, I think, but Justin’s songs generally are – you need to bop, and in company is better. ‘I’ve met Jesus’ is a real jump about anthem – in fact, so many of them are! ‘Heroes’ too. The two versions of ‘Power of Love’ (Jennifer Rush, Huey Lewis and the News) create surprise, grins, and singing. All good things. The big surprise is ‘IBIATCL’ – Justin starts a speech about being away for a while, and we listen intently, expecting a quite emotional round of thank you’s and the like – but true to form, he does nothing the usual way, and the band launch into The Darkness’ tour de force. The crowd goes wild, and then, it’s all over. Far too soon, because it was a breathless rollercoaster of manrock, manpop, and mansweat.  Yes, it is Darknessy. Some of those songs were written back in TD’s early days. They have the hooks, and the voice that overlays everything IS the voice of TD, so the comparisons are hardly unexpected. It rocks harder than people will expect though. Tough, bright guitarwork ensures that, and the Powerzone keep the  


 Hot Leg, then, are perfectly suited to each other. Consummate professionals all, they’re not kids starting out and learning their trade, and it shows. They’re as tight as their trousers musically, and their stagecraft finely honed. This quartet are most definitely on the same  wavelength. Somehow, Justin is a star, but not THE star. He has a rival in straightfaced silliness in Pete, and in Sam, a bundle of energy and rock jumps to compete with. Darby’s drumming is assured and beautifully energetic. Samuel J Stokes, a fine bassist, is going to find himself with a little flock of Samlings, thanks to that wicked grin in an otherwise fairly demure demeanour. Pete indeed does have liquid hands. He’s FAST! And knows his stuff. There’s not many who can touch him – the accolades I’ve read about his playing aren’t hype. The ego that Justin was labelled with and fell prey to during his problems isn’t going to be nearly so much in evidence from now on, I feel. However, Justin remains true to his innate daftness, and the others share it. The stage set pieces flow naturally, and the incidentals fit together like a jigsaw.


Tonight was a triumphant return by Justin to show that he can still do it. There’s not much doubt about that, he can. Now that the first gig is over, the worries and the nerves about those first few steps back onto a stage he left so precipitiously, it’ll get even better.


Birmingham Barfly 7th August. After little sleep, thanks to the King’s Cross pile drivers, it’s off to Brum. More quick changes, then time for a leisurely stroll to the venue and to the pub to wait. The venue opened late, and it was raining, so there weren’t many happy bunnies in our part of the queue. Pish. Funny how you need a wee more, when it’s raining…  I did catch Saving Aimee. A rock indie boy band? They have a lot of energy, they know what they’re doing, and they’ll grow into this, I’m sure. Justin’s influence is very much there to be heard in their songs. Good luck to them.          

The crowd is not filled with friends and families tonight, so it will be tougher. There are some familiar faces from last night, though. From the minute they arrive on stage, the difference from last night’s performance is obvious. Justin owns the stage from the minute he steps onto it, and the crowd about a minute later. This gig is far less fraught, and relaxing and enjoying is the order of the day. The band’s rapport shines through yet again – they are a close-knit unit. Hot Leg’s serious musicianship and giddy, breathless, funfilled delivery are a delight, in so many ways.


Highlights – Rita Peachey, aged 71, was invited onto the stage after Justin had received a letter from her. She hadn’t been able to listen to music properly since Justin left TD, and missed him badly… until one day, the redoubtable Mr Peachey tossed a newspaper in her direction with the words ‘He’s back!’. She now has the kind of memories she can treasure forever. Take heart, ye young rockers. Your time will come!  As well as that, Van Halen’s ‘Hot for Teacher’ appeared unexpectedly from nowhere, which went down a storm. I’m sure that wasn’t played for me, no. Oh, and Sam being carried off stage. That was a moment…  The gig also contained a very public and very sincere dedication to Sue Whitehouse – thanks, respect and acknowledgement. 

By the time we got to the rendition of IBIATCL, Hot Leg had the crowd in their pocket, with their own creation, talent and energy – as last night, and as it was for the remaining two nights. They don’t need this song, though. It’s not what people came to hear, it’s not  going to be their springboard. It was, however, bloody good to hear again live. It doesn’t bother me that he’s singing it. But when you’re already standing on your own two (eight) feet before anyone knows that you’ll play it, it doesn’t need to be a must on the set list.


And so endeth my short tour. Manchester was by all accounts the crowning glory of the four dates, the coming together of all those good things. Glasgow had a crowd that was wanting to be impressed, but I think it was managed in the end. More Hot Leg is on the horizon, but not yet confirmed. Manrock launched, ahoy!


Many thanks to: Hot Leg, Mr Paige, Karl, and the legends that I was pleased to meet.    



 More photos available on album 1  and 2




Hot Leg tracks – Trojan Guitar & Heroes

I know, I meant to do this earlier – but real life gets in the way of my love affair with all things begat by Darkness.  However, I have a few spare minutes before setting off to see the very first Hot Leg gig tonight, so it seems appropriate to do this now.

Anyway. Let’s start with ‘Heroes’. A free non-album track offered when the tour tickets went on sale – I first heard a small 12 second snippet of this ages ago on dothegreenthing, and the damn thing managed to stick in my head even with such a short burst.  So when the full version arrived, it was boogie time – i defy you not to jig about to it. Hand jive is good…   Every part of this sinks into your consciousness – guitars, beat, chorus, backing vocals. There’s nowhere to hide.   And who could resist a Superhero wiping the floor with Zeroes left right and centre? Doesn’t matter if you’re EcoBoy or the boy next door. Everybody’s heart drives them on to a dream, everyone has their own future in their hands. It’s not easy, but you don’t have to  do it on your own.  Not nearly as much falsetto as people would expect from Justin, here. Sounding good – fast, confident, and not a syllable of superfluous lyric.

Moving on to ‘Trojan Guitar’, which arrived whilst I was on holiday and then wouldn’t play for days thanks to the laptop sulking. Still, I got to wonder about the title, and the idea of Justin and his merry men sneaking back into musicland and destroying it from the inside with the sweet blasts of rock. This is an epic, a saga and work of guitar/lyric art. It’s for you decide what the story is, but for me it’s the rise and fall of TD, and Justin’s subsequent rise from the ashes. Apologies all round if that’s not the case. More progressive rock than anything that goes before it, and the beginning reminded me of ABBA’s ‘Fernando’. Never a bad thing.  As I said, the guitar work on this is just amazing. Listen a couple of times, it’s well worth it.  ‘Trojan Guitar’ is the first single, watch out for release dates.  

Talent will out, as they say. You can’t miss it here – it was never lost, just took stock of itself for a while.

Justin Hawkins bares his Hot Leg(s)

Justin Hawkins has quietly launched his new band onto the calm waters of MySpace and Facebook – no fanfare, no fuss. Expect, though, for this to change when all is fully revealed, because the press will create one anyway. All we have so far is a lineup and a promise of rockmelted faces. A smidgeon of music and gig dates are to follow – August is the official launch eta. Given the response to the mere hint of his new music, it’ll be a sizzling summer.

After months of recording and working on other projects, Justin gathered his fellow rockmen to the sanctuary known as Hot Leg:

Lead guitar: Last piece of the jigsaw to be gently eased into place was Pete Rinaldi – he plays such a mean guitar that Justin has made him lead. He is generally referred to as being exceptionally gifted, and Hot Leg’s description bodes well – ‘Liquid Guitar Hands’! If anyone wants to admire his work, try Adam (yes, Rick’s son) Wakeman’s Headspace – their EP ‘I Am’ was released in February 2008. He has written and played mandolin and guitar for Cass Fox on her album ‘Come Here’ in 2005. He was also a member of Pauline Taylor’s band, releasing CDs in 2007. His song ‘Cutie Pie’ features on the CDs of Brooklyn artist adee. 2007 was a busy year – he also joined One EskimO following the departure of their guitarist.

On bass – Samuel SJ Stokes, half of the Powerzone. LA based, via Dublin, London and Oxford, he rocked out in The Thieves to critical acclaim. After spending a few years in LA recording, gigging, and building a studio, he’s now moved back to London to be part of Hot Leg.

The drumming half of the Powerzone is Darby Todd. He has worked with (nicked off MySpace, the list is huge)… Derek Nash, Winston Blissett, Dave Ital, Tim Cansfield, Arden Hart, Jerry Springer (no, really!!), Andy Newmark, Phil Mulford, Pete Adams, Gary Moore, Buddy Whittington, Papa George, Bobby Tench, Mickey Moody, Derek Mc Entyre, Otto Williams, John Noyce, Neil Angilly, Mike Post, Thomas Lang, Pete Freezin, Steve Houghton, Dennis Rollins. Protect the Beat, a jazz/funk outfit, is one of his main UK projects. His other work includes West End shows and TV, as well as teaching.

Aaaand… Justin Hawkins. Singer, showman, guitarist, not always in that order. He is best known as The Darkness’ frontman and providing their main songwriting thrust, but has written for TV,, and done a spot of film acting in Telstar, yet to be released.

The sweet high silver notes of rock are BACK.

This project has been going on for some time, and now Justin finally has the band he wanted to back up the music he’s been working on. Expect a lot of rocking and face melting to be happening before too long. By the looks of things, everyone’s very pleased, happy, and being silly. Just the way we like it. More news as it comes.