WELCOME TO THE DARKNESS
NOVEMBER 9, 2023
Welcome to The Darkness, is a thrilling and heartfelt journey into the revival of iconic rock band The Darkness. It is a captivating glimpse into the band, overcoming personal and professional struggles to rediscover their passion and creativity for making music. The film is full of candid interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and electrifying performances that capture the spirit and energy of The Darkness. It is a must-watch for any fan of rock ‘n’ roll history and culture.
Opening with what feels like a pretentious rock ‘n’ roll journey, it couldn’t be further from the truth, rapidly developing into something much more profound, with a personal account of a relentless self-battery for forgiveness and the eternal guilt felt by Justin Hawkins, with him taking complete responsibility for their hiatus in 2006. It’s tortuous – a glimpse into his deeply emotional mindset.
Justin Hawkin’s substance abuse is characterised as a musician’s rite of passage to legendary status, leading to the band’s demise, and how the grip of that addiction is only a stone’s throw away. Justin Hawkins is entirely transparent; interestingly, so are Dan Hawkins and Frankie Poullian, acknowledging their part, caught in candid individual interviews. It begs the question, are these interviews cathartic? Something tells me these words are spoken only in isolation, never in-depth, and never to each other. This “stiff upper lip” attitude is a repetitive theme throughout.
Illness is also a common theme that has struck both brothers – the ever-present Grim Reaper threatening their lives and livelihoods; more problematic is the threat to The Darkness itself – maybe this is the more significant addiction, “This band is my life”, Dan Hawkins confesses. Reminded that The Darkness can never be average; it’s all or nothing. The pressure is enormous, and I’m left moved but equally concerned for the individuals. Will they ever be satisfied?
As the documentary moves on, there is a notable shift in the dynamics of what The Darkness was, is, and could be. Emily Dolan Davis, described as having a composed drumming style, replaced Rufus Taylor, seamlessly fitting into the hilarious banter and extravagance of the band. There is a realisation in what success looks like; maybe, just maybe, The Darkness Army is what it is all about, not world domination, but playing for joy, playing for the fans. This shift is admirable and everything you’d expect from true rock ‘n’ roll legends and a complete loss of arrogance.
Tour manager Andy Shillito’s relationship is extremely close, more like a confidant, not wholly comfortable spilling the beans. Whilst Ray Brown sets the fellas straight regarding their fabulous flamboyance, his honest approach is refreshing, not expected to us ordinary folk. Frankie Poullian is by far a standout throughout this documentary. The self-proclaimed weird uncle communicates an exciting insight into the trials and tribulations of the band and the aesthetics of what cool is. The personal interactions with the fans project an endearing awkwardness; they are in complete awe, and it’s lovely to see. On the flip side, there is possessiveness, selfishness, and unrealistic ownership, which could result in devastating consequences come touring time.
Closing with “Love is Only a Feeling”, live from Wembley Stadium in 2023, this is a captivating story of how The Darkness is overcoming their fears, returning to the stage with passion and energy. Their sexy spandex and powerful performances take a backseat to their core message, which is inspiring, an authentic tribute to the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. The Darkness is touring worldwide – back in stadiums, where they should be.