Justin Hawkins strutted out to center stage in a glittery jumpsuit channeling Hanoi Rocks and a Labyrinth-era David Bowie to an anticipating crowd full of rabid fans of his old band the Darkness and the badge-bearers under the tent lights at SXSW. He and his new band Hot Leg promptly pumped and gunned through a tight blitzkrieg of arena rock and spazzed-out ’80s glam with songs like “Chickens” and “Ashamed” to quickly rouse the Stateside faithful.There were moments when one would have thought that his previous band had never left as his trademark falsettos peppered many a chorus and the guitar crescendos still packed plenty of shredworthy wail. The difference was Hot Leg’s musicians, incredibly tight and true to whatever era of rock that Hawkins pulled out of his hat during the evening. This is a serious band.
There was a pompous rawk energy emanating from these dentally challenged Brits that failed to waver through the brief but flashy set. The crowd latched on and were reeled in to the thick of songs like “Gay in the ’80s” and “I’ve Met Jesus.”
Hawkins showed he was no slouch as an axeman, the highlight being his “Cocktails” solo delivered from atop the shoulders of a roadie as they waded through the crowd and small sea of camera phones that lit their path. He rocked healthier than ever, looking proud and determined to keep over-the-top Darkness-like antics to a bare minimum.
Heads banged, necks craned and air guitar reigned throughout Hot Leg’s set . A furiously fab time was had by all in the late night Texas heat.