The Darkness & Push Push

Photos by Chris Zwaagdyk

Photos by Chris Zwaagdyk

By Jake Ebdale

Artist: The Darkness & Push Push

Date / Venue: Thursday April 20th, 2017 - The Powerstation, Auckland

The Darkness and Push Push – now, that’s a bill I didn’t see coming. It’s been a while since both acts enjoyed their heydays – Push Push in ’91, The Darkness landing in ’03 – so Hawkins and Havo had a lot to prove last night.

This was Push Push’s first proper gig in over 20 years, so it was a big one for the former North Shore rockers. I was glad to see Mikey Havoc, former TV star and bFM/Hauraki host, still possessing some great pipes. That is no understatement – there were wails, screams, inane banter over the top of guitarist Andy Kane. He’s still got it. ‘Beating Up Bullfrogs’ and ‘Euphoric Plunder in Bliss’ had some real charge to them. Many were there for ‘Trippin’, their number-one smash, by far the best song of the set. But besides an energetic thrasher called ‘Change’, the songs from the new EP, Talk2Me, didn’t really hold up. I'll be looking out for that original multi-coloured vinyl of Trillion Shades of Happy, though. A welcome set from the Push Push boys.

The Darkness were absolutely shit-hot out of the gate. The change in pace from Push Push was formidable, kicking into the deathly one-two of ‘Black Shuck’ and ‘Growing On Me’, singer Justin Hawkins declaring, ‘Hi, we’re The motherfucking Darkness!’. He had a flipping purple open-chest one-piece on. Rufus ‘Tiger’ Taylor, Roger Taylor’s son, was a beast on drums. There were mid-air splits, blistering guitar solos, bras and jackets thrown onstage. Hawkins crowdsurfed during set closer 'Love on the Rocks With No Ice'. Insane, bro.

It was Rock Show 101. The singles from their debut, Permission to Land, still surprisingly sound fresh today, including ‘Love is a Feeling’, ‘Friday Night’ and ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’. The new songs were heavier and faster, like Iron Maiden with a wink in their eye. The only gripe I had was them only playing one song, the title track, from second album One Way Ticket To Hell…and Back, unfairly maligned on its release in 2006. 'Girlfriend', 'Dinner Lady Arms' and 'Is It Just Me?' would've been welcome.

The best kinds of gigs? When you walk away liking the band considerably more than when you walked in. This was the case for The Darkness. And good news - their as-yet-untitled album is due in September. A great night of ridiculous rock had by all.