Taylor Momsen-led American rock four-piece The Pretty Reckless returned to London for the first time since playing their biggest UK headline show at the 5,000-capacity Brixton Academy in November 2014, this time playing a tiny pre-album launch show for third studio record Who You Selling For, due out on 21st October, to a crowd of just 1,000 at North London’s fabulous Scala venue.
While The Pretty Reckless may seem to some as The Taylor Momsen show, drummer Jamie Perkins, guitarist Ben Phillips and bass player Mark Damon were themselves the New York band Famous, formed in 2006, before being introduced to Momsen in 2010. The rest is rock history, and following 2010’s Light Me Up and 2014’s more successful Going To Hell, expectations are high for Who You Selling For.
Appearing on the North London stage encased in perpetual shadows, Perkins, Phillips and Damon took up their positions ahead of Momsen, who entered the stage to screams from fans who had been waiting those two years for her return, recorded female sexual groans of Going To Hell opener Follow Me Down kicking of the show, the last of the groups club warm-ups. Dressed in her customary black Going To Hell tour black shirt emblazoned with a golden cross-shaped arrow, this time encased in a long black leather coat, Momsen was in fine form, bounding about the stage, flailing her blonde locks about and reaching out to her adoring fans easily, given their short distance from the edge of the stage.
“London!” the 23-year-old frontwoman screamed. “How the fuck are you guys doing tonight?” she asked to screams from the 1,000-strong sold out crowd before the four-piece launched into debut album cut Since You’re Gone, the lucky few in attendance screaming along with Momsen’s every lyric. “So we have a new record coming out” Momsen said name-checking the new release, “so please check it out if you are so inclined” before diving into the first of only two Who You Selling For tracks with the record’s second single Oh My God, the St. Louis, Missouri-native screaming the song’s verses with true rock-goddess prowess.
“This is the last of the warm up shows, so we’ll be back” the frontwoman promised before introducing Light Me Up’s debut single Make Me Wanna Die – “We’re going to bring it back to our first record, and we certainly want to hear you sing along”, the 2010 cut getting the crowd moving more than they were as Momsen lunged out into the crowd from both sides of the stage as Philips’ heavy guitars and Perkins’ stomping drumming layered beneath their frontwoman’s honey-slick vocals brought the future hard rock classic to life, Momsen often handing over vocal duties to the crowd.
Introducing first album cut My Medicine as one of her favourite songs from the band’s first record, the former Gossip Girl star encouraged the crowd to sing loudly once again as the slow-drive rock anthem built up momentum, enticing the North London audience to slowly bop along, in stark contrast to the faster cuts of the night, the front-woman a thousand steps removed from The Upper East Side’s Jenny Humphrey.
The New York-based rockers’ set continued with fan favourites from their first two records, the chilling Sweet Things and anthemic Fucked Up World from Going To Hell followed by Just Tonight and Goin’ Down from 2010’s Light Me Up, Momsen playing guitar for some of the tracks. The second and final new song of the night came in the form of first single from the new record Take Me Down, it’s repetitive chorus enticing the crowd to yell along, making the song stand out rather than coming across as lazy song writing, before sophomore record Going To Hell’s title track closed out the night.
The set was a short one and included just two songs from Who You Selling For, hardly a new album showcase show, but it certainly whet appetites for the shows that will no doubt follow at larger venues and opened the ears of those in attendance to what to expect from next week’s new album release. Their full-blown tour this time around will be one not to miss for sure.
Tonight’s Scala show was the only UK stop on a brief European jaunt which included stops in Paris and Berlin. The Pretty Reckless are off on an extensive US tour alongside Holy White Hounds, kicking off and rounding out at venues in California. Who You Selling For is out on Razor & Tie on 21st October.
Live review of The Pretty Reckless @ Scala by Kalpesh Patel on 10th October 2016.
Kalpesh has more music photography up on his flickr stream here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/somethingforkate