18 Mar 2009

Hot Leg, Islington Academy, London

+ posted by FlamingWhopper

Even by pop’s volatile standards, Justin Hawkins’ downfall was brutally swift. Five years ago, the unitard-clad singer was riding high with his tongue-in-cheek hard rock band The Darkness, winning Brit Awards and selling 1.5m copies in the UK alone of debut album Permission to Land.

Then the bubble burst. A follow-up album flopped, Hawkins contracted a £150,000 cocaine habit, and the band split. “I hit rock bottom,” the rehabbed singer confessed in 2006 – though a worse indignity came when his attempt to represent the UK at the 2007 Eurovision song contest was rejected. “We don’t talk about that,” he said in a sheepish tone recently. Still, Hawkins is nothing if not indomitable. The man whose ambition once was to be fired as a human cannonball in Wembley Stadium is back in action with new band Hot Leg, swapping arenas for poky venues plastered in posters advertising theme nights with names such as I Love the 1990s and Club de Fromage.

Failure hasn’t dented Hawkins’ faith in the power of pastiche rock. Hot Leg are basically The Darkness redux. Flanked by bandmates with big hair and glammy outfits, Hawkins was resplendent in a leather catsuit and huge poodle-rock coiffure, whose supernova of permed curls suggested, à la Norma Desmond, that the stages had got smaller, not him.

From the drum solo in the opening song, no rock cliché was left unturned. High-fives for the guitarist after an elaborate solo; Hawkins’ warbling falsetto; his triumphant tour of the venue sitting on a roadie’s shoulders while playing guitar.

Shunning Darkness songs, the set drew on Hot Leg’s debut album Red Light Fever. Boogying riffs accurately captured both the swagger and absurdity of Sunset Strip cock-rockers such as Mötley Crüe. Pomp rock references abounded, with “Chickens” taking Queen’s symphonic guitars and operatic vocals to hysterical extremes.

Monstrous power ballads portraying Hawkins as a clown who cries inside (“Here on the floor/There’s nowhere else to fall”) were a dampener, and fillers such as “Gay in the 80s” proved less flamboyant than the lyrics suggested. Yet his showmanship was irrepressible. A return to Darkness-style success will surely elude him (Red Light Fever, he dryly noted, “steamed into the charts at number 81”) – but, someone, anyone, please give that man another crack at Eurovision.

Credit: www.ft.com
Follow Justin Hawkins on Twitter

Reassuring vet display. Link
2614 days ago

RT @etvapos: @DrBrianMay and @why don't you follow each other!? ;)
2616 days ago

Wowzers, Madrid folk really know how to make you feel welcome. This was a fun show. Right, home time for me :)
2616 days ago

RT @AlClarkofficial: Big cup game today, lovely weather for it. @jimbohuz @justinhawkins #NHTIFD
2617 days ago

@railcomjon soon, Jon, soon. 3 more shows and I get a little break. NHTIFD!!
2617 days ago


New Album - Red Light Fever OUT NOW

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