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Hot in the city with Justin and gang

March 10, 2009

Justin Hawkins on stage with Hot LegHot Leg
Birmingham 02 Academy 2
By Ian Harvey

You can either laugh at Justin Hawkins or you can laugh with him but you certainly can’t ignore him.

The former Darkness frontman was back in Birmingham for the second time in a year last night, promoting his new band Hot Leg’s debut album, Red Light Fever.

camera_ss4.gif See our gig photo gallery below

Greeting a sweaty Academy 2 with a cheeky “Hello Wembley!”, Hawkins led Hot Leg through 90-minutes of all out rockers, camp anthems and arm waving power-ballads as if the 70s and 80s had never been away. And there wasn’t a Darkness song in sight.

It’s easy to look only at the striped jeans, comical headbands, bleached hair and falsetto shrieks and overlook the fact that Hawkins has surrounded himself with a fine band.

They are growing in confidence too, running through the whole of the new album and beyond, with a generous helping of download-only tracks and yet to be released numbers, raprurously received by an audience ranging in age from seven to 71.

Hawkins as been to the very top of the rock ‘n’ roll rollercoaster and then dived to the bottom. Now, three years out of rehab, he’s back where he started with The Darkness, playing to small clubs but with a growing momentum.

Of course, not everyone “gets” Hawkins’ OTT eccentricity, but for those who do, the reality TV-bashing Ashamed, singalong You Can’t hurt Me Anymore and the rather rude stutter of Cocktails, proved the perfect tonic to credit crunch misery and a cold, wet night.

Returning for an encore in tennis whites, Hawkins eventually stripped off his top, sparking off a similar reaction from a few of the female fans down at the front.

Girls just wanna have fun . . . and so do Hot Leg.

* Support act The Crave opened the show with an energetic set of catchy rockers, featuring a guitarist who looks suspiciously like Russell Brand going undercover. They are a band to watch out for.

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