the darkness

vogue theatre vancouver

Until this evening, I only had one reason to thank the traditional English seaside town.  One of my first childhood memories revolves around the jumbled thought of ants, cough medicine, and a dull dark chalet – good times.  Now however I have a renewed appreciation for this town on the Suffolk coast, as the home of one of the most unique, enjoyable and energetic rock bands on the scene today.

Formed in 2000, The Darkness consists of Justin Hawkins (lead vocals, guitar), brother Dan Hawkins (guitar, backing vocals), Frankie Poullain (bass, backing vocals) and Rufus Tiger Taylor (drums).

The band achieved success early in their career, their debut album, 2003’s Permission to Land sold more than one million copies, and the band cleaned up at the 2004 Brit awards with Best British Group, Best British Rock Act, and Best British Album. After the release of their second album, One Way Ticket to Hell… and Back, the band split.  Happily, however in 2011 they reunited and have been rocking the world ever since, with several new albums, including the most recent, Pinewood Smile, released late in 2017, which is the basis for the current “Tour De Prance” which kicked off a week ago, in LA.

If you are a fan of 70’s classic rock acts such a Queen, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and others, then you have to do yourself a favour and see The Darkness now. With lycra cat suits, songs with spiraling falsetto breaks, and solid, SOLID musicianship, and a healthy degree of political incorrectness, they represent what if great about rock music.

You know you are about to see a band that has supreme self-confidence in its rock roots when they have the balls to play Arrival by Abba as the intro to the show. After taking the stage and blowing kisses to the adoring fans, the band lit of the up show the Open Fire and Love is Only a Feeling before bursting out the hard-rocking Southern Trains.  This was the first of a handful of tracks from the latest album, and the lyrics showcase one of the key features of the band, they are funny and do not take themselves too seriously. [side note – Justin kindly asked for the photographers to be allowed an additional song from the pit, for which we were all grateful]

This comedic talent, along with front man Justin Hawkins ability to really connect one on one with the audience is what sets The Darkness apart from many other bands (in addition to their musical talent).  Whether it is borrowing clothes from the audience, stopping the show to sign an autograph, or sexting Joey’s girlfriend in new West (hope you got your denim patches Joey 😉 ) this guy knows how to entertain, and the fans love him for it.

The audience were treated from songs from across the back catalog, but mostly the first and the latest album, and overall this was a great choice.

We were even treated to an extended version of Love on The Rocks with No Ice, again thanks to Joey’s persistence, and the bands ability and willingness to connect.

This was an outstanding show, so if The Darkness are headed your way on the current tour, do yourself a favour and grab some tickets.


Photos: Stewart Johnstone


diarrhea planet

vogue theatre vancouver

Garage rock band Diarrhea Planet are immediately striking.  Seeing 5 guitars lined up, backed by a drummer is a somehow pleasingly disturbing sight.  You know just from looking at them that this Nashville six piece are going to make some noise.

They did not disappoint at the Vogue tonight playing a hard driving set, alongside with stage theatrics and a bit of crowd diving. Overall they provided a solid performance, picked up some new fans, and warmed the crowd up nicely for The Darkness.

The band, who have graced the stages at SXSW and Bonnaroo comprise of singer/guitarists Jordan Smith, Brent Toler and Emmet Miller, guitarist Evan Bird, Mike Boyle on bass, and the man with sticks in his hands, instead of an axe Ian Bush.

The latest album, Turn to Gold, their third, was largely recorded live, in a space of days rather than months. This really allows listeners to get a feel for the massive sound that these guys can produce live.

More at:

Or follow them on facebook/twitter/instagram at @DiarrheaPlanet

Photos: Stewart Johnstone

Vancouver art gallery

Shawn Austin, The Boom Booms and little destroyer

As part of the Vancouver hosted JUNO’s this weekend, there has been a whole bunch of great music to catch up on with almost 100 artists performing as part of JUNOFest.

The Vancouver Art Gallery has been hosting a number of great artists over the weekend.  I was lucky enough to catch three very different, but equally talented bands and individuals on Friday.

Check out some images from Shawn Austin The Boom Boom’s and Little Destroyer.

Photos: Stewart Johnstone


Old.Soul.rebel, BRDGS, Nuela Charles
and Ria Mae

As part of the Vancouver hosted JUNO’s this weekend, there has been a whole bunch of great music to catch up on with almost 100 artists performing as part of JUNOFest.

I spent last night darting between a couple of venues to grab some images of some of the great acts on offer.

The night at the VENUE was launched by the talented Old.Soul.Rebel, with Chelsea Johnson and Lola Whyte holding nothing back, and really relishing getting the night going. This duo, backed by some solid horns, and percussion have the perfect blend of soul and kick ass rock and roll that leaves you smiling every time you hear them.

(Check out our images from their show at the CBC Plaza earlier in the year)

Next up was energetic electro-pop performer BRDGS, a great young act, originally Steady Brook, Newfoundland and now based out of Toronto. BRDGS is getting established very quickly on the Canadian scene, and tonight’s performance will undoubtedly win over more fans.

Nuela Charles, the first of two JUNO nominees of the evening took the mood in a more soulful direction. The singer who is nominated for the Adult Contemporary Album of the year, used her powerful voice to full effect during a set which showcased her vocal range effectively.

Closing the evening out was Ria Mae, nominated for Pop Album of the Year, Ria is no stranger to the award process having previously been nominated for Single of the Year at the 2016 JUNO’s.

Check out our images below

Photos: Stewart Johnstone





As part of the Vancouver hosted JUNO’s this weekend, there has been a whole bunch of great music to catch up on with almost 100 artists performing as part of JUNOFest.

I spent last night darting between a couple of venues to grab some images of some of the great acts on offer.

The night kicked off at the Roxy with Derrival. This young band, which was one of three bands chosen for the inaugural Juno Masterclass, gave an energetic performance and clearly enjoyed being on stage.

Next up was Calgary’s indie-rocker Matt Blais, who brought a bit of a Bob Dylan/Neil Young vibe to venue, taking the stage with guitar and harmonica in place. Matt, who has in the past opened for Blue Rodeo, and collaborated with Sam Roberts performed flawlessly, to an appreciative audience.

Last up for the evening, and by far the most energetic was Victoria’s Jesse Roper. Jesse is an hypnotic performer to watch. He never stops moving, and the only time he seems to stop smiling is when he is grimacing during his wonderfully grungy/dirty guitar solos. This guy is a bona fide star, and backed by an equally talented band easily tore down the house after a great evening of quality music.

Check out our images below

Photos: Stewart Johnstone





German thrash metal superstars Kreator, brought their power sound to the Vogue Theatre, Vancouver on Wednesday night.  The band, which originally formed in 1982 showed no sign of slowing down anytime soon. They blazed through a set the contained hits from many of their 14 studio albums. Opening with more recent tracks such as Phantom Antichrist and Hail to the Hordes, they soon had the crowd in their hands, and kept them their right through the night, directing the moshing, and pitching one side of the crowd against to the other, there was no let up right through to the encores – Violent Revolution and Pleasure to Kill. Continue reading “Kreator – Vogue Theatre – Vancouver”




VOGUE THEATRE – vancouver

Over the years Swedish power metal band Sabaton have carved out niche for themselves, and have become famous for their songs of war and heroism.  After almost 20 years in the business, founding members Joakim Brodén (vocals) and Pär Sundström (bass) continue to bring their unique blend of storytelling and raw power to a legion of adoring fans.

The band rolled into Vancouver on Valentine’s Day, and did not disappoint. As soon as the opening bars of In the Army Now started up on the PA the audience was ready for action. It was clear from the start of the show when the band hit the stage for Ghost Division that tonight was going to be a whole lotta fun. Continue reading “Sabaton – Vogue Theatre Vancouver”

Booker T Jones


Booker T Jones, and his talented band played a sold-out show at the Kay Meek Centre on Friday night.  With more than 5 decades of hits to his name, as writer, performer and producer, Jones has an embarrassment of riches to choose from.

After greeting the audience with an infectious smile, he took his place behind the iconic Hammond organ, and started the evening with the MG’s Hang Em High. More hits from the back catalogue of Booker T and the MG’s followed including Soul Dressing, and perhaps the most famous tune form the band, Green Onions.

Jones mixed it up with a couple of tracks from Albert King and Muddy Waters, before stepping out from behind they keys, to join his son on guitar.  Whilst Jones is most strongly associated with the Hammond, he is a great guitarist as well. After a brief prelude while he entertained the audience with a humourous back story about the Monterey Pop Festival, he launched into a laid-back version of the Hendrix classic Hey Joe. Continue reading “Booker T Jones at the Kay Meek Theatre”





Periphery performed for a packed house at the Commodore Ballroom on Tuesday, as they, and Animals as Leaders, brought the Convergence Tour to Vancouver.

Periphery, and specifically Misha Mansoor are credited with being one of the pioneers of the djent progressive metal genre. Formed in 2005 in Washington DC, their first, self-titled album was released to critical acclaim in 2010, and their latest Periphery III: Select Difficulty in the summer of 2016. Popular in the US the band also have a strong following in Europe and Japan.

  Continue reading “Periphery – Commodore Ballroom”





Progressive metal titans Periphery and Animals as Leaders brought the Convergence Tour into Vancouver on Tuesday, performing to a packed house at the Commodore Ballroom.

Animals as Leaders comprises guitarist Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes, and drummer Matt Gartska. Formed in 2007 they have four albums to their name, the latest being The Madness of Many, released in November 2016, which released the No. 1 spot of the US Hard Rock charts.

Continue reading “Animals as Leaders – Commodore Ballroom”