The Pretty Reckless
Rock City, Nottingham
19 January 2017
The Pretty Reckless played to a packed crowd at Rock City and while often criticised for being ‘the Taylor Momsen show’ they are anything but a one-woman show. Neil Johnson reports.
The Pretty Reckless have managed to gain a huge and committed fan following and some solid back catalogue tracks in just three albums. On this tour for their current record Who You Selling For, sees the band continuing the previous recipe of Momsen’s gorgeous airy and yet punchy vocals with raucous rock n roll tunes that wiggle their way inside your brain and stay planted for hours. The third record in also has some surprises with some utterly delightful ballads and more complex songs. Disappointingly, the set list for Rock City didn’t include many of them, I was especially looking forward to The Devil’s Back and Back To The River, but neither made the cut, which was a shame.
It’s just before 7pm on a rainy Thursday in Nottingham, I am running late (as usual). I arrive at Nottingham Rock City and head to the booth to grab my pass for the event, I run up the stairs and start rifling through my bag to check that I have remembered to bring everything that I need to shoot and make some notes. It turns out that I have and so with relief, I get myself a drink and start to take in my surroundings. I am immediately hit with the variety of people in the room. Sometimes, bands have a certain demographic, their appeal is quite specific and you can imagine that the audience probably has a lot in common. This isn’t the case with The Pretty Reckless; there were young girls who clearly idolized Momsen and had styled themselves in her image, but they were not the majority. The Pretty Reckless seem to have that rare ability to appeal to a broad cross-section of music fans, no doubt Taylor’s image helped initially, but the strong song-writing and quality of the live show open the appeal up to a much broader audience.
The show begins with Follow Me Down from the second record Going to Hell, a great way to start a rock n roll show, the moaning and sirens had the crowd at fever pitch as the band walked on stage, followed shortly after by Momsen. She was dressed in a long black coat, her voice cutting through the thick guitars and sounding huge. Moving on to Since You’re Gone from the first record Light Me Up, the band get into their stride and start to demonstrate why they have built such a reputation for being one of the best live acts on the rock circuit today.
The set is a mixture of the three records, with a few from each released album, four from Going to Hell, five from Light Me Up and six from Who You Selling For. For your listening pleasure, they are in this Spotify playlist.
Highlights from the show were ‘Make Me Wanna Die’, which had everyone screaming every single word as if their lives depended on it. Light Me Up, which is one of my all time favourite songs and seemed to connect especially well with the Rock City crowd. And Just Tonight, which showcases the live prowess of the band, Taylor’s vocals and their ability write a song that can imprint itself on your brain and hang on for dear life.
Finally, after a relatively short sixty-minute set, they ended with Take Me Down, a perfect example of a pop rock track that has landed extremely strongly with the fans, who were left screaming ‘we want more!’ for a good ten minutes, although the strict Rock City 10pm curfew won out on this occasion and the band didn’t come on for an encore, despite the setlist on stage listing Fucked Up World; it was sadly not to be on this night.
All words and pictures by Neil Johnson. More writing by Neil Johnson can be found at Neil’s archive. Neil is also on twitter as @jonnokid and has a website here: https://www.neiljohnsonphotography.uk/