Back in 2003, one of my closest friends here in Atlanta handed me a CD titled Permission to Land, from what was then this obscure new band out of the UK named The Darkness. I have maintained a curious affection for The Darkness these past two decades, yet mistakenly had never seen them perform live. That error was corrected Saturday night as the band brought their Motorheart US Tour, with special guest The Dead Deads, to The Masquerade in downtown Atlanta on Saturday night.
Established in 1989, The Masquerade is a bit of a unique venue experience, with three different indoor rooms handling a wide variety of capacities, ironically named Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. The largest space, Heaven, played host to the evening’s events, with fans lining up in the chilly late afternoon over an hour before the doors even opened.
Taking the stage at 8pm was Nashville-based The Dead Deads, a female power trio that I have heard nothing but great things about. Consisting of Meta (vocals/guitar), Daisy (bass) and McQueen (drums), these ladies rocked the early crowd from the get-go. Touring in support of their 2021 release Tell Your Girls It’s Alright, The Dead Deads opened with “Thinkers and Preyers,” the second track from that disc. As highlighted on their website, I would agree that their sound is a fun amalgamation of grunge, hard rock, punk and classic metal, with mentioned influences that span cross-genres from The Pixies to Pavement. I was super-impressed with the variety of their songs, including one of my favorites from the set, “First Tooth.” (Video below)
While The Dead Deads are definitely getting exposure traveling with The Darkness, they certainly aren’t unknowns. Slipnot’s Corey Taylor has been an active supporter of the band for years, and in fact did a duet called “Murder Ballad II” with Meta on their latest release. Their unique look and outfits – including X’s painted over their eyes – is a refreshing compliment to their musical talents, and I am sure my 15-year-old daughter would have been the latest fan club member into The Dead Corps had she come with me. Nashville is only 3.5 hours away from Atlanta, so hopefully The Dead Deads make their way back down here again soon!
The Dead Deads
Meta – Singer/guitarist
Daisy – Bass
McQueen – Drums
1.) Thinkers and Preyers
3.) Deal With Me
4.) In The Flesh/Push Me (Pink Floyd cover)
5.) First Tooth
Following a fairly quick stage changeover, The Masquerade venue lights dimmed and The Darkness logo was lit up onto the backdrop curtain. The packed house buzzed with energy as the opening synth music played, with the crowd erupting in excitement as original members Justin Hawkins (vocals/guitar), brother Dan Hawkins (guitar), Frankie Poullain (bass), along with newer member Rufus “Tiger” Taylor (drums, and son of Queen drummer Roger Taylor), launched into “Welcome Tae Glasgae” from their latest release, Motorheart. My friend likes to claim The Darkness is a semi-campy cross between Queen and AC/DC, which is hard to argue with.
Let me start by saying this – I was blown away by Justin Hawkins and his stage presence. Putting aside his stellar guitar playing, his smile was infectious and his engaging antics and banter got the fans involved immediately. You know it is going to be a good night when the crowd reciprocated the “Give me a D” – “D” – “Give me an arkness” – “Arkness” – chant that resulted in Hawkins ending in, “We are the f*cking Darkness!”
Besides his recognizable falsetto, Hawkins’ comedic wit (and colorful outfits, see gallery below) were also on full display throughout the night. At one point a fan had tossed an Atlanta United scarf on stage, which he picked up and questioned if he should wear in “support of some American sport.” He then asked the crowd to confirm that the team wasn’t owned by some Russian oligarch, otherwise he was “going to wipe my ass with it.” Hysterical.
While the early part of the high-energy set following “Glasgae” was in support of their latest release, including the tracks “It’s Love, Jim” (an homage to Star Trek, video below) and the album’s title track (a song about a sex robot), the setlist was a celebration of their entire catalog. My personal favorites of the night included “Solid Gold” off 2017’s Pinewood Smile, “Barbarian” from 2015’s The Last of Our Kind, and “Get Your Hands off my Woman” from their Permission to Land debut in 2003.
What is great about seeing a rock band like The Darkness in a venue like The Masquerade is that it typically draws an audience of dedicated, hardcore fans, and Saturday night seemed like no exception. The crowd sang along, chanted back, and jumped around as if we were all hanging out in a neighbor’s basement with a friend’s band playing, most notably when they returned for one encore, their smash hit “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.”
This show was the perfect Saturday night escape, with a full evening that showcased two charismatic, musically-talented bands that you should definitely catch when the tour rolls through your town.
Justin Hawkins – lead vocals/lead guitar
Dan Hawkins – rhythm guitar/backing vocals
Frankie Poullain – bass guitar/backing vocals
Rufus Tiger Taylor – drums/backing vocals
1.) Welcome Tae Glasgae
2.) One Way Ticket
3.) Growing on Me
5.) Open Fire
6.) Solid Gold
7.) Givin’ Up
8.) It’s Love, Jim
9.) Black Shuck
10.) Heart Explodes
11.) Friday Night
12.) Love is Only a Feeling
13.) Japanese Prisoner of Love
15.) Get Your Hands Off My Woman
16.) I Believe in a Thing Called Love
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Elliott is a music photographer covering shows in the Atlanta, Georgia and the surrounding area. The highlight of his photography career was back in the early 90s, selling Neil Diamond the rights to his negatives from a show and purchasing a set of tires for his 1979 280ZX during college with the money.