Finally, after such a long wait since the Easter is Cancelled Tour was…well… canceled, our wait for The Darkness is over.   With COVID claiming so much from each of our lives, it is such a special moment to welcome back Justin, Dan, Frankie, and Rufus.

Now before welcoming The Darkness back to Melbourne in their opening show of the 2022 Motor-heart tour of Australia and New Zealand, the packed Forum, Tuesday night audience is in for a homegrown and very special treat indeed.  None other than the lads from Thornlie themselves, hard-rocking The Southern River Band. The pre-show stage darkness is broken by the unmistakable silhouette of the mullet from hell, marking the entrance of the brilliant Aussie Cal Kramer and the lads from the banks of the Canning River.

As The Southern River Band crank into their immediately thrilling set, one can’t help but wonder how much of the Aussie hard rock spirit that emanates from the Bon Scott statue at Fisherman’s Wharf in Fremantle has found its way into the music, the moves, the look and the feel of The Southern River Band.  Of course, everywhere TSRB plays, they leave with far more fans than they had when they arrived, but with the first song, it becomes abundantly clear that there were more than just a few fans of Rumour & Innuendo in this Melbourne crowd.

With the irreverent and unapologetic comical skills of Cal at the fore, the brilliant pounding and thrilling music of TSRB is always accompanied by a hilarious spattering of humorous intermissions that never fail to tickle the ocker in us all.

Every time this band takes to the stage, they seem to challenge themselves to do better than ever before. The remarkable thing is that they achieve it…always. This is the kind of support tour opportunity where a screaming Forum crowd, should by all rights guarantee a sold-out Watch Yourself Tour opener at the Corner on November 11th and a kick-arse national tour.

With stories from meth-ridden workmates when plastering worksites, to stealing the band intro thunder from the bass-wielding bandmates, to feeling like a sheep on a hobby farm, or the more malevolent edge to track about drug dealers where one can genuinely feel the drug-ridden underbelly of Gutterland, Australia oozing from their music into the daylight, the Southern River Band are never to be missed. Tonight, they gave Melbourne a small taste as to why.  Huge thanks to our hard-rockin’ heroes from the west.

But with a little tickling up of the stage and the affectionate coddling of instruments that musty surely be necessary to ready them for a thorough pounding courtesy of The Darkness, the wait is over. 

After a dramatic cinematic score introduces the atmosphere along with a fitting purple haze, the quartet enters the stage to an eruption of roars from the crowd as they open up with ‘Motor Heart’ and ‘Black Shuck’, Justin already delivering his quintessential high whilst flaunting his playful charm.

Accompanied by the equally talented ensemble, Justin Hawkins put on a stellar performance from beginning to end, amplifying his charm and wit, even donning a punky leather pest given by a fan in the audience. Movement and rock n’ roll presence like no other

Partway through the show, Justin broke into a famous Freddy Mercury-inspired call and response with the sold-out theatre of The Forum, even hilariously breaking into an operatic/jazz vocal performance which left every living thing in the room with a grin on their faces

After a rendition of Happy Birthday for an ambitious fan in the crowd, Justin playfully teases arguably the most awaited number of the night, ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’, right before erupting into the classic tune. Not to mention Justin abruptly halts the track right before the first chorus getting everyone to put away their phones and savor what was usurpingly a magical moment, before completing the song and walking off-stage

Closely following the amplified chants of the crowd demanding an encore, the ensemble breaks onto the stage once again, this time with Justin in a funky, country-like outfit while the rest of the band is damn near stripped down to boxers. The lights turn green and red as the group starts performing their festive tune ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)’, joined by Cal of The Southern River Band accompanied by sleigh bells.

When we all thought it couldn’t get any better, Justin climbs onto the back of a security guard and surfs him through the packed Forum crowd shredding a long extended solo to their finale, ‘Love On The Rocks With No Ice

The Darkness can still be seen at the following dates: You wont regret it

Friday, Oct 14: Astor, Perth
Saturday, Oct 15: Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
Sunday, Oct 16:  Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Tuesday, Oct 18: Kambri, Canberra
Wednesday Oct 19: Tivoli, Brisbane
Friday, Oct 21: Hunter Lounge, Wellington
Saturday, Oct 22: Powerstation, Auckland 

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