Last week I was lucky enough to photograph The Hollywood Vampires, featuring Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp. With such a star-studded cast, it’s no surprise that they occupied the majority of the RockShot photography real estate. But (shhh… don’t tell anybody…) from a photographers’ perspective, the really entertaining pictures were served up by the primary support act, The Darkness.
For a start, they were introduced by Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins. That was unexpected and had us all scrabbling for our cameras.
Then there’s Taylor’s namesake Justin Hawkins – he of the high-pitched vocal. Justin is a brilliant front man, completely relaxed in front of a huge crowd and supremely entertaining. He makes jokes, he struts, he preens, he continually launches guitar picks into the audience – and when he gets bored of just throwing them, he back heels them too.
As the performance progresses, he sheds more and more clothes. By the end he’s naked from the waist up, tattoos proudly on display. My favourite (and one of the the finest tattoos I’ve ever seen) has the word ‘Lowestoft’ (his home town) splashed across his front, circumnavigating his navel. Before the evening is out, he will be doing headstands on the drum riser, but for the first three songs (which is all we get to shoot), Hawkins remains fully clad.
The Darkness aren’t just a one man band though. Stage right stands Justin’s brother, guitarist Dan Hawkins. Unlike Justin, he’s not rocking the kind of white suit that kept Bjorn and Benny toasty in the 1970s. Dan sports the more traditional Rock God black leather…
… and he’s not afraid to pull the odd pose or two of his own.
And whilst Dan gets up close and personal with the monitors on his side of the stage, bassist Frankie Poullain does the same on his, seemingly defying the laws of physics in the process.
I expect drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor (son of Queen stick man Roger) was doing all kinds of crazy things too but I’ve no real pictures of him since (a) he was an awful long way away, and (b) with the three up front pulling wheelies every few seconds, it’s hard to find time to look anywhere else. My bad.
I didn’t use to take The Darkness seriously. Then I saw them live for the first time and realised that that is entirely the point. Go and see them. You’ll be so glad you did. They are brilliant.
The Darkness photographed by Simon Reed at SSE Arena, Wembley on 20 June 2018. Simon has his own music photography website at: https://www.musicalpictures.co.uk/