The hair, the tatts, the poses … making the ridiculous sublime

Ticks all the boxes ... The Darkness' lead singer Justin Hawkins is a through and through rockstar.
Ticks all the boxes ... The Darkness' lead singer Justin Hawkins is a through and through rockstar. Photo: Getty Images

UNSW Roundhouse, May 6

''GIVE me a D.'' Pause. ''Give me an Arkness.'' Yep, ridiculous, but true. Hilarious, and good. And that's pretty much a Darkness show - and for that matter their still none-more-pleasing I Believe In A Thing Called Love.

If there was a list of the essential components for a successful rock'n'roll experience (and you just know that some sad nerd like, um, me or you has posted that list online), you could start ticking them off within minutes of the Darkness appearing.

Denim, tatts and a big fat moustache on stage, and a topless woman on her friend's shoulders in the audience? Check. One pretty boy with Renaissance curls playing guitar solos with a foot on the foldback, hair flying? Check. Gibson Les Paul guitars changed nearly every song; knickers thrown on stage and the incongruous sight of ''get your hands off my woman, motherf---er'' sung in a falsetto by a man with facial hair out of The Three Musketeers? Check, check and check.

Laugh? We did. Get off on the thrill of rock and pop metal done with flair and power? We did that too, whether it was the nuttiness of Sino-Scot rock that is Girl With the Hazel Eyes or the Freddie Mercury-knew-my-mother gallop of Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now.

While parody is amusing first time but can quickly run dry, the Darkness simultaneously rise above and dive below parody and that's why theirs is a well you can keep coming back to. Respect is due because to pull this off, you need to first of all love and know your subject back to front, then be able to play it at least as well as its deadly earnest practitioners and finally, crucially, have the kind of songs that keep entertaining.

Drawing from Queen and early AC/DC (The tunes! The crunch!), taking off Def Leppard and Bon Jovi (The cheese!) and, because they can and no one would ever think of doing it, covering Radiohead's Street Spirit as if Thom Yorke and friends had secretly wanted to be in Deep Purple (The gall!). What the hell is that?

It's ridiculous, of course. And very, very good.