The long-awaited return of The Pretty Reckless went off with a bang. This is their first UK tour since 2017, and they opened with the title track from their current album Death By Rock and Roll. No messing about.
The backdrop was a simple black and white band logo, but who really needs more visual stimulation when you can watch vocalist and post-modern grunge icon Taylor Momsen sashaying, gyrating and shimmying her way around the stage?! Taylor was dressed in a short satin slip, fishnet gloves and tights, and black, calf-length boots. She exuded sexuality and strength. She kept her energy up throughout the show, jumping onto monitors and flipping her hair.
Don’t let that fool you into thinking she’s just a pretty face though. Momsen can sing, she can scream and she can harmonise exquisitely with guitarist Ben Phillips. She’s also a huge advocate for women, dedicating the song ‘Witches Burn’ to all the women in audience, as well as anyone who has ever been “f**ked over by a man” (this was quite a sweary show!). She took the time repeatedly to thank fans for coming out, and let everyone know how much she appreciates being able to do what she loves.
Since it was 30 October, and the band are American, you can guess what another recurring theme was – Halloween. Taylor let everyone know this was a party, and songs with titles like ‘Broomsticks’ and ‘My Bones’, as well as a witch’s hat and orange lighting, gave the evening a suitably spooky edge.
The setlist had something for everyone and spanned across all four studio albums. From first album Light Me Up (2010) the band played the anthemic ‘My Medicine’ and break-through single ‘You Make Me Wanna Die’. Both were stand-out moments of the show with tonnes of crowd participation, as was the rendition of ‘Going to Hell’.
Guitarist Ben Phillips took a moment to shine during ‘Heaven Knows’ from second album Going to Hell with an extended guitar solo. The quietly charismatic guitarist can certainly play, and I heard a couple behind me say “I could listen to him play all night”.
The main part of the show closed with the only track from third album Who You Selling For – ‘Take Me Down’. The band came back out for a last hurrah to play ‘Fucked Up World’, including a fast paced and energetic drum solo from Jamie Perkins. Overall, the show was less ‘Death By Rock and Roll’ and more a masterclass on how to breathe life back into it after the trauma of the past few years.
Support for The Pretty Reckless came from British band The Cruel Knives. I haven’t seen a venue so packed for a support act since the beginning of 2020, and it was so worth the trip. Former Heaven’s Basement stars Sid Glover and Rob Ellershaw make up one half of the band, and, since Filthy Empire by Heaven’s Basement is one of my favourite albums of all time, I was always going to love The Cruel Knives too. Sid is an outstanding guitarist and everything he’s involved in has kick-ass harmonies. The band played a half-hour set including current single ‘Overdose’, the thumping ‘Hollow People’ and FU song ‘Crawl’.
The Pretty Reckless Setlist
Death by Rock and Roll
Since You’re Gone
Only Love Can Save Me Now
And So It Went
Make Me Wanna Die
Going to Hell
Take Me Down
Fucked Up World
Review: Chrissie Duxson
Photographs: Ian Dunn