After almost five full years, The Pretty Reckless made their triumphant return to both the United Kingdom and to Brixton’s O2 Academy. 1795 days have passed since TPR last took to the famous stage, and in that the time the world has changed in a lot of ways. We’ve had pandemics, Prime Ministers, Trump as president, and a whole lot in between. It’s been chaotic and unpredictable, with very little set in stone over these last few years. So, when a band like TPR come back to the UK, it’s nice to have a guarantee delivered upon, with their promise of delivering an iconic performance coming true.
Before TPR even took to the stage, credit has to go to their choice of support band in The Cruel Knives. TCK performed their role of getting the crowd hyped up perfectly, and the choice to have just the one support band was a smart one. Adopting the all thriller no filler mentality, the two bands worked exceptionally offering a 1-2 punch ideal to start the night off on a high that didn’t come down.
With eight planned shows and eight sold out nights being cruelly cut down to seven after the band were unable to perform their penultimate show at Norwich’s Nick Rayns LCR, expectations were naturally high for the final show of TPR’s UK tour. A cold may have kept lead singer Taylor Momsen and co out of Norfolk, but there were few signs of such illness as the band confidently powered into their opening tracks.
A band in a genre that is known for having belief in one’s own ability was embodied by the choice of opening tracks, with the first five songs showing exactly what TPR are about. Five songs balanced between the band’s latest release 2021’s ‘Death by Rock and Roll’, and their first release 2010’s ‘Light Me Up’, demonstrates pure confidence. Placing songs from your latest full album right alongside some of your most well-known tracks shows a band who have absolute confidence in their own work. TPR are clearly a band who see all their work on a level playing field, and with the performance to back up that statement, it seems they just might be right.
Writing on her Instagram account after the band’s performance Momsen stated that the London show was amongst her favourite gigs the band have ever played, and to both her and the other three members credit they showed that same love whilst on stage. Never afraid to engage with the audience, there was a clear outpouring of emotion from the crowd, one that the band were all too happy to reciprocate. After five years away this meant something to the UK audience, and it was perfectly clear that it meant something to the band as well.
As the show went on the band would consistently showcase their musical ability, but perhaps a better balance could have been struck. Whether it was the aforementioned cold effecting Momsen or a production decision, it seemed at times her vocals were tough to decipher, drowned out by the impressive guitarwork and drum kit of the band. Likewise, the decision to cut all the stage lights after almost every song seemed a strange one, with the remaining members of the band often kept in that darkness, leaving Momsen feeling the star, whilst the others merely had to let their music do the talking.
On that note though, if it was a matter of letting their music to the talking, then each member of TPR had enough words to write an essay. With the pre-encore side of the concert drawing to a close, the band’s musical ability would take centre stage. As Momsen departed the stage for a brief interlude, the rest of the band’s musical expertise would become something to behold, with the rest of the band putting their full range of musical talents on display. Momsen the excellent frontwoman she is would match her band’s talents as they brought the initial 14 songs pre-encore to its conclusion.
Matching that gutsy attitude that saw TPR open the concert with a heavy dose of their latest album, performing a three-song encore made up of 2 covers, again showed that the band are absolutely fearless. Opting to do what seems natural to them, instead of what others might have expected. The first a heartfelt rendition of Foo Fighters’ Learn to Fly, accompanied by a rousing speech from Momsen to the recently departed Taylor Hawkins, before being followed by an excellent version of Neil Young’s Rockin’ in the Free World, both songs that TPR had only introduced to their setlist for the latter half of their UK tour.
Ending on a high, the band would launch into F*cked Up World, from their 2014 album ‘Going to Hell’ to close the set, an adrenaline inducing anthem that served as a perfect last note to send out the 4,000+ in attendance back into the city for the rest of their Saturday nights.
A brilliant performance from a band the UK unfortunately has been deprived of for too long, for those in attendance, as well as for those who wish they were in attendance one thought will be shared between them all. Don’t take so long next time, please!