Live Review – The Pretty Reckless in Brixton

Words and images: Iris Beek

American rock band The Pretty Reckless returned to London for their last show of the Death by Rock and Roll tour in the UK. Lead by vocalist Taylor Momsen, the band blew the audience away in the sold-out O2 Brixton venue. With heavy guitars, bass and drums was it truly a night to never forget.

British rock band The Cruel Knives – featuring former Heaven’s Basement members Sid Glover (guitar/vocals) and Rob Ellershaw (bass), with Tom Harris (vocals) with and Al Junior (drums) – open the show. They put on a great show and powerful, punchy songs as ‘Crawl’ and ‘Overdose’ make sure that everyone is ready for the main event. 

The crowd is in a fantastic mood and when the clock strikes at 9:05pm, the lights go off and you can feel the adrenaline in the room. Momsen and band arrive and receive huge applause. After they play their first song, ‘Death By Rock And Roll’, Momsen takes the crowd in for a couple of seconds and thanks everyone for being here tonight. One thing is for sure; the whole band is excited. Their use of the stage focuses our attention; there are two platforms on the left and the right and bassist Mark Damon uses the left and on the right side is guitarist Ben Philips. Drummer Jamie Perkins is in the middle and Momsen, well, she takes advantage of the full space.

Momsen’s stage presence is truly on a rockstar level!

Thirty minutes into the show, it’s noticeable that the breaks between the songs are a bit long – sometimes for a whole minute – hindering the flow of the performance. The stage is dark, and at the front, Momsen needs frequent swigs of refreshment while the crowd is waiting. However, we forget that when they play an amazing version of ‘You Make Me Wanna Die’. There’s a lot of interaction from the band with the crowd as they start to play ‘Just Tonight’, a song that fans on Twitter chose to hear for the London show. “The crowd is an element of The Pretty Reckless tonight,” Momsen calls out. She also talks about her love for Halloween before they play ‘Witches Burn’, following up with ‘My Medicine’, the first time in the evening where Momsen picks up her own guitar.

As the set comes to a close there’s an amazing guitar and bass battle going on between Damon and Philips during ‘Heaven Knows’, which sounds celestial. Momsen leaves the stage during the solo but pops up after two minutes and shouts that everything she wants is “Rock’n’roll.” 

The band finish with ‘Take Me Down’. Something interesting is going around in the crowd; you don’t see any mosh pits, only happy people dancing, which reflects how The Pretty Reckless is – a band where people truly can have the time of their lives while being themselves.

They encore with a cover of ‘Learn To Fly’ by the Foo Fighters, which is a beautiful tribute to drummer Taylor Hawkins who passed away earlier this year; his spirit is part of what TPR do. 

Video Credit: Rob Watson