The Pretty Reckless Live at The Forum — Supported by The Cruel Knives

Nothing says Saturday night like a bit of shredding.

The O2 Forum in Kentish Town was the scene of the London show of The Pretty Reckless’s second European leg in the Who You Selling For World Tour, supporting the band’s third studio album.

The American band returned to London for the first time since performing at the Scala nightclub in October.

The Cruel Knives, a new band consisting of guitarist Sid Glover and bassist Rob Ellershaw of Heaven’s Basement alongside vocalist Tom Harris and drummer Al Junior opened proceedings.

The Cruel Knives, performing together for only the third time, played a set lasting around 35 minutes featuring their new debut single “The World We Were Sold” as well as “Itch”, “TWWS”, “Kill The Messenger”, “Squeeze”, “On A F*cking Leash”, “The Promised Land” and “Crawl”.

The Cruel Knives in full swing.

Glover and Ellershaw seemed to instantly have a great connection with their new band-mates. Indeed, much of the band’s material has shades of Heaven’s Basement, however the vocals of Harris gave the band a much more edgier and heavier sound, with Harris’s ability to hold notes being superb.

The band’s performance was lively and energetic, with Glover jumping on Junior’s drum kit twice. The band and the crowd seemed to feed off one another, putting the audience in a great mood to hear the opening act. The band left the stage to a huge ovation, with Harris throwing his bottle of water into the crowd and Junior parting with his drumsticks.

After an interlude of around 40 minutes, Ben Phillips, Mark Damon and Jamie Perkins of The Pretty Reckless entered the stage. They were followed quickly by Taylor Momsen, the former Gossip Girl actress wearing her now trademark leather jacket. The band launched straight into “Follow Me Down”, a fast and powerful track, best characterised by sudden shifts from full throttle riffs to a much shorter tempo during the chorus. Indeed the shorter parts, really allowed the band to build up to the faster parts and really let loose.

Momsen and bassist Mark Damon.

The first track from “Who You Selling For” to be performed was “Oh My God”. The song sounds like something that could be written if Lemmy and Kurt Cobain had ever had the chance to get into a recording studio and write a song together. Momsen showed the variety of her voice with her vocals being raspy in contrast to the softer undertones of “Follow Me Down” and she was able to perform both brilliantly.

This was soon followed by the band’s first ever single “Make Me Wanna Die” released in April 2010.

As soon as Momsen announced the band were playing their first ever single, a huge roar came from the crowd and the band did not disappoint. Momsen had actually encouraged the audience to take out their phones and those that filmed this performance, filmed something special. My short snippet is linked below. Like “Follow Me Down”, “Make Me Wanna Die” has lots of contrasts in tempo. Momsen gets the opportunity to showcase the best of her vocal talents, whilst Phillips provides backing vocals which just add more and more energy. The crowd absolutely bounced at this song.

As well playing guitar, Ben Phillips provides backing vocals for the band.

After a few screams of “We love you Taylor!”, Momsen asked the audience if they’d been drinking and launched into “My Medicine”, another favourite. Momsen showed off her ability on the guitar, whilst Phillips delivered a fairly complex riff with virtuoso perfection, much to the delight of the sell-out crowd.

“Living In The Storm” was another new track played by the band. The song’s distinctive guitar sound being delivered really well by Phillips and complimenting Momsen’s vocals yet again. A lot of subtle licks, were followed by a faster solo by the guitarist, supported expertly by Damon’s deep bass and Perkins’s drumming which was smooth throughout. A song where all the components of the band worked in tandem together to produce a masterpiece.

“Sweet Things” was a much darker song with Phillips singing some eerie sounding verses on his own. In this song, Momsen showcased her ability to heavy metal scream, something she does again expertly.

“Heaven Knows” was another song with real contrast, with the verses building up to a hard and heavy chorus, in a way this made it a brilliant song for interacting with the audience with the audience screaming the chorus “Way Down Below” whilst pulsating to the beat. This was followed by “Going To Hell” after a short break while Damon and Phillips re-tuned, which was much the same, Momsen holding out her microphone at various sections of the audience during the chorus.

The back of the stage at the end of the show.

The much softer “Take Me Down” followed, a song with a quick tempo let a much more calmer sound. The effect was a more feel good piece before “F*cked Up World” — a bouncy song with a more blues type sound, driven by Phillips’s shredding and Perkins fast drumming. Perkins stayed on stage to perform an epic drum solo, followed by another performance of “F*cked Up World” to end the night.

In all, the performance by both bands were full of energy and fast paced. The bands seemed to feed of the energy off 2,300 strong crowd, with plenty of headbanging and moshing throughout the night. It’s hard to decide which band performed better — as they were both superb. For those of you reading who are going to see the bands on a later date, you are in for a superb treat.

The most important thing was that both bands seemed to absolutely enjoy playing their music, all 8 band members had smiles on their faces throughout and enjoyed playing for the crowd in the capital. Momsen herself described everyone in the crowd as “beautiful f*cks”.

In terms of overall sound, The Pretty Reckless are very similar to the Guns N’Roses of the late 80s and early 90s. Fast paced music throughout supported by a vocalist with a large vocal versatility. Damon’s strong bass playing and Perkins’s drumming helped drive the music forward and really complimented Momsen and Phillips. The content of the lyrics were similar too, songs about drink, drugs, romance and life. The song “Hangman” being reminiscent of GN’Rs more ballad type music, and some songs even have the blues influence which is present on some tracks in “Appetite for Destruction” and “Use Your Illusion I & II”.

With the band still relatively fresh, Momsen only turning 24 in July, they are sure to have a successful career, with all three albums thus far being full of amazing tracks.

One hour before the doors open.

In terms of my overall experience, the gig was thoroughly enjoyable with really great intensity in the music. The venue was easy to get to, only a few minutes walk from Kentish Town Tube Station.

The venue itself had really good acoustics, though I was at the front, I was standing at the side. The sound quality and the visuals were still amazing, though.

The venue was helped by its size. Small to create a strong intimate atmosphere.

Annoyingly, the queue was massive. It was made worse by the fact I was the only one of my friends to secure a ticket before the event sold out, meaning I had to pre-occupy myself on a chilly evening. The queue started moving at 1900 and I was in the venue by 1910, having spent most of the hour by the band’s tour bus. I think I spotted Perkins going to get something, though the lack of light meant I couldn’t really tell if it was him.

The band’s bus.

Inside the venue, the men’s toilets were a bit cramped, with a rather long queue at the end of the show. I’m not aware if the balcony have better views or facilities, as I’m yet to visit it.

Getting back can be a slight hassle. With Kentish Town being a relatively small station, there were queues to access it. Luckily, these queues moved fairly quickly, and at past 2300 in the evening, the Northern Line back to Tottenham Court Road was the quietest I have ever seen it.

The Central Line on the other hand, was still fairly packed, though luckily I got in before the cramp.

Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The Cruel Knives release their debut EP this year and based on their live performance, it is sure to be a great album to listen to. The Pretty Reckless’s European leg continues until a performance at Moscow’s Arena CSKA in February. A South American leg begins in Curitiba and lasts a week and a half in March, before a couple of months touring in the band’s native North America.