The Darkness

The Darkness descended on San Francisco’s historic Masonic to kick off their “Permission To Land 20” Tour in celebration of the 20th anniversary of their multi-platinum, chart-topping debut album which set the stage for glammed-out bands to unapologetically follow in their footsteps.

“Heavy and Western” was emblazoned on the kick drum head for openers The Comancheros, perfectly setting up their vibe well-before they ever took the stage. The trio adorned in matching red suits set up and obvious nod to ZZ Top, even without the beards, and delivered an energetic set with a country twang woke up the SF crowd. And while the “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers” cover didn’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone paying attention, Thin Lizzy’s “Cowboy Song” was most definitely an interesting twist. These dudes delivered 30 minutes of a good time which perfectly queued up the party that was to follow!

As the clock struck 9 pm and the intro music played, a small model spaceship resembling the one on the cover of “Permission To Land” was slowly lowered from the rafters in what was assuredly intended as a humous, Spinal Tap inspired moment. The band took the stage and launched abruptly into the instrumental, “Bareback.” For those expecting to hear the opening track from “Permission To Land, frontman kindly obliged by explaining that not only would they be playing the whole album, they’d be including B-sides and rarities from the era (i.e. the best of the rest) … pretty much your hardcore The Darkness fan’s wet dream come true!

Justin was clearly having a good time coupling his onstage antics (borrowing a lighter to burn his nipple) with his guitar wizardry and insane vocal range. Dan Hawkins on guitar in a black leather jacket channeled his best Johnny Ramone with a low slung guitar and hair in his face. Frankie Poullain seemed perfectly content to smile and absorb it all, much like the pair of VIP’s prominently seated on the corner of their stage with a table full of refreshments.

Playing an album front-to-back introduces some unexpected issues for a band, namely finding their big hit seven songs into the setlist rather than as part of the encore. Justin his the complexity head on and implored the crowd to put away their phones and get a bounce going (because if you really wanted your friend to see the show you should have bought them a ticket).

While closing the night out with a holiday tune was an choice, even in a night of unexpected twists, ” “Christmas Time” somehow perfectly capped off what was without a doubt a truly unique experience for The Darkness fans. Many of these songs hadn’t been played live in nearly a decade … imagine any other band on the planet trying to pull that off! Not one to be missed!


  • Bareback
  • Black Shuck
  • Get Your Hands Off My Woman
  • The Best of Me (First performance since 2013)
  • Growing on Me
  • How Dare You Call This Love? (First performance since 2013)
  • I Believe in a Thing Called Love
  • Makin’ Out (First performance since 2013)
  • Physical Sex (First performance since 2013)
  • Out of My Hands (Live debut)
  • Love Is Only a Feeling
  • Planning Permission (First performance since 2011)
  • Curse of the Tollund Man(First performance since 2013)
  • Givin’ Up
  • Stuck in a Rut
  • Friday Night
  • Love on the Rocks With No Ice
  • Holding My Own (First performance since 2013)


  • I Love You 5 Times (First performance since 2016)
  • Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End) (First North American performance)

The Darkness

The Comancheros

© 2023 Alan Snodgrass | Please do not use without express permission.