0 5 mins 2 yrs

The Guildhall is unusually full, but when I realise that The Cruel Knives is Sid Glover and Rob Ellershaw‘s latest band (it had somehow escaped me) and given the huge following Heavens Basement had in Southampton it all falls into place.

They open with ‘Overdose’ and anyone expecting Heavens Basement won’t be disappointed the high-octane riffs and thunderous rhythm you would expect from Glover and Ellershaw are there but the introduction of Tom Harris on vocals makes the band feel edgier and more alternate. They continue with ‘The Life That We Made’ and all eyes are on Harris and his enigmatic ownership of the stage, he’s not overly flash but he commands attention when he’s singing but then retreats to the rear stage while Glover takes care of the solos. The audience are completely held, no-one’s retreating to the bar and that is tribute enough. This is riffy, punchy rock at its finest. Sadly, they only have a short set of six songs, they close out with ‘Crawl’ a huge wall of sound with touches of Led Zeppelin and Rush in the rhythm section, it reaches its crescendo followed by a momentary silence before thunderous applause and The Cruel Knives exit the stage with an undoubtedly larger following than before.



The Life That We Made

Black Eye Friday

Hollow People

Shotgun to the Head


While the stage is prepped for The Pretty Reckless, I take a bit of time to examine the audience, and I’m interested to find that it is considerably older than I would expect, there are far fewer angst-ridden teenage girls and far more thirty/forty somethings, but I guess The Pretty Reckless has been around for nigh on thirteen years now and they’ve brought their original fans along with them through the years. It’d certainly long enough that Taylor Momsen’s previous life as child actress (oft mentioned in the early days when the press tried not to take her seriously) is long forgotten and having paid her dues, she holds her deserved place as the front woman of a hugely successful band, and that is no mean feat in a genre where fans can spot a fake a mile off.

Taylor, dressed in trademark slip, leather jacket, fishnets and ‘don’t mess with me’ boots erupts on stage and straight into ‘Death by Rock and Roll’ which could well be a statement of intent. Taylor strides around the stage, from one band member to the next and although it is easy to be mesmerised by her stage presence it is hard to ignore how tight this band is. ‘Only Love Can Save Me Now’  lets Ben Philips show his not inconsiderable guitar chops. The audience knows the songs but clearly the older ones are favourites as a huge cheer goes up for ‘You Make Me Want to Die’ and they join in the chorus with gusto.

The leather jacket has gone as the heat in the room rises and the set paces through ‘Sweet Things’ that has Taylor whirling around the stage in frenzied delight. ‘My Medicine’ is an early classic and ‘Heaven Knows’ lends itself to audience participation, it just can’t help itself. The set closes out with the glorious ‘Take Me Down’ but of course that is not going to sate the audience who demand an encore, the band oblige with a cover of Neil Young’s ‘Rocking in the Free World’ which rather surprisingly fits The Pretty Reckless sound rather more than you would expect. Their final song is the upbeat poppy ‘Fucked Up World’. By this time the audience have let go and are just having a good time. And then just like that it’s all over, the band leave the stage and the audience slinks off into the night like the pretty reckless creatures they are.


Death By Rock and Roll

Since You’re Gone

Only Love Can Save Me Know

And So It Went

Make Me Wanna Die

Just Tonight

Sweet Things

Witches Burn

My Medicine

Going To Hell

Heaven Knows

Take Me Down


Rockin’ in the Free World

Fucked Up World

Words & images: Helen Bradley