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Sheffield o2 Academy March 8th 2009

After a somewhat catastrophic fall on his arse after the unsuccessful second album of The Darkness and an embarrassing shenanigan with the Eurovision song contest, flamboyant frontman Justin Hawkins re-emerges with his self proclaimed 'man-rock band': Hotleg.

Quite a change from playing the big arenas to playing the O2 Academy in Sheffield, but still he's back with his own show. Before embarking on a review of these guys I'd say it was pretty crucial to educate those into some background information on the complication surrounding Mr Hawkins.

Parting with his extremely skilful brother Dan, the siblings have gone their separate ways, Dan forming the heavy rock band 'Stone Gods' and Justin, 'Hotleg'.

After seeing both of these bands recently, it appears clear to the trained eye why things went wrong for The Darkness. Lack of brotherly love you might say. Justin always added the craziness and fun aspect to The Darkness with his personality and dress sense, while Dan added the white hot guitar techniques and a touch of a classic British taste in guitar playing.

Now, Justin has embarked on his own mission and collected band members clearly more suited to his personality and preferences. Hotleg on first impressions emerge as a mixture of Poison, Motley Crue and Hanoi Rocks. Loud hair, loud clothes and loud personalities. Upon classing the man rockers it's a pretty fair judgement to call them Glam Rock.

Not surprisingly the gig was not a sell-out, they played the whole of their new album 'Red Light Fever' with bouncy rock singles 'I've Met Jesus' and 'Cocktails'. Their sound is everything we've missed from Justin Hawkins; exciting, melodic and fun with his trademark high pitched vocals and guitar soloing.

The show provided the small audience with a bouncy, upbeat and exciting performance, staying completely away from any previous Darkness numbers, except a minor moment where Justin began the intro to 'I believe in a thing called love' for a Mick take.

The question always surrounding Justin is that is he taking things seriously or is he a Mick take? Well, it seems as though Justin may be misunderstood. He is overall a brilliant frontman with an exquisite personality and immense talent.

Justin Hawkins does not take himself seriously, in the sense that he dresses like an 80's star and his lyrics such as 'Cock, cock, cock, cock-tails...' But, he takes his music seriously or he wouldn't have picked himself up again and be working his way back up the ladder.

Touring with their new album 'Red Light Fever' Hotleg are doing a small number of dates, touching on the idea that they look as if they've emerged out of the 80's, so their merchandise stall was selling only Vinyl's of their albums. Unsurprisingly it was very unsuccessful, probably another of Justin's ideas.

Hotleg are brilliant, fun, and exciting, you can do nothing but enjoy these guys and those who truly miss a good taste of the old stuff from today's music scene should get themselves along to a Hotleg gig.

Review by Betsy Green

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