Sunday, 6 March 2016

Reckless Love - Wolverhampton Review

I do not know what it is about Scandinavia, but nearly all of the best modern hair metal seems to come from that part of the world. Two of the best have teamed up, and are currently touring the UK together. Reckless Love headline the tour, who's fourth album InVader was released last week, and they always go down a storm over here. I last saw the band at Nottingham's excellent Rock City in 2012, and they blew me away. I had been a fan of the band for a while, but that concert cemented my love of them further. I missed the tour for third album Spirit as I could not make the logistics work, so I made extra effort to get to a show on this tour. Wolverhampton was the easiest option. I did not have to take any time off work, and Wolverhampton is relatively easy to get to and cheap to stay there. Although I did have to contend with some Rail Replacement Buses, I got to Wolverhampton in good time and, after checking out an excellent second-hand vinyl shop, made my way to the Slade Rooms. I had never been to that venue before, as all the other shows I have seen in Wolverhampton over the years have been in the bigger Wulfrun Hall. The Slade Rooms is quite small, but can hold a surprising amount of people when they are all packed in. The stage is a little low, but still offers a good view, even from near the back were I was stood. It is a testament to Reckless Love's popularity that the venue was pretty much full. The atmosphere was excellent all night, and both bands om the bill clearly fed of this energy and seemed to be having a great time.

Before Reckless Love hit the stage, the crowd were treated to a set of fellow Finns Santa Cruz who played a good-length set packed full of energy and anthemic songs. I had previously seen the band supporting Amaranthe in Bristol last year, but then they only had a very short set. This time, they had longer and were playing to a crowd that were much more receptive to their style of music. While I have always been a little dubious of the band on record, especially the odd nu-metal trappings of their second album, live they are a totally different story. Stripped down to the bare bones of vocals, guitar, bass, and drums; Santa Cruz are a sleazy, hard rocking beast that really deliver. Without the odd electronics, the songs from the band's second album (9 of the 10 songs from this album were played) really shine. There is something about early Guns N' Roses in the band's live sound, and they have the showmanship and charisma to match. Frontman Archie alternates been belting out anthemic choruses and laying down melodic guitar solos, while lead guitarist Johnny takes the lion's share of the solos with ease. Highlights of the band's set included the melodic opener Bonafide Heroes and the real sing-a-long number We are the Ones to Fall. The power ballad Can You Feel the Rain proved to be a good mid-set break, and the sleazy, 1980s throwback Aiming High (the only song played from the band's debut album Screaming for Adrenaline) was a perfect way to end the set. Lots of people in the crowd already seemed to be Santa Cruz fans, but those who were not already probably are after this commanding performance. The setlist was:

Bonafide Heroes
Velvet Rope
My Remedy
Bye Bye Babylon
6 (66) Feet Under
Let them Burn
Can You Feel the Rain
We are the Ones to Fall
Wasted 'n' Wounded
Aiming High

Despite being a Santa Cruz fan, it was Reckless Love that I was really there to see and, with InVader less than a week old, the band were on fire. Five new songs were played throughout the set, with choice cuts from their other three albums also played to make a well-rounded setlist. A couple of older numbers got things started. The Hysteria-era Def Leppard-style Animal Attraction got the evening off to a good start, before the faster sleaze rock of So Happy I Could Die had heads banging and nearly everyone in the crowd was singing along. Frontman Olli Herman is a modern day David Lee Roth. His stage moves are perfect, and his voice is made for this sort of material. He takes the vast majority of the attention throughout the set and really knows how to work the crowd. Hands and the super-infectious Monster, both from the new album, also went down well. The latter in particular was popular, with a chorus made for crowd participation. Pepe's (guitar/vocals) solo in this song is excellent too, and is a standout musical moment in a song dominated by synths. Other early highlights were the cheesy Beautiful Bomb and the ballad Edge of our Dreams which has a really beautiful chorus. Another new number, the hard rocking Bullettime shows that the band do not always have to rely on loads of production to write great songs. It is probably my early favourite from the new album. Pepe's heavy riff is awesome, and the anthemic chorus is a winner. Another good new number was Rock It and it was played for the first time ever at this show. The disco-rock of Back to Paradise is always a winner live. No other song played this evening saw as much movement as this one, as the energetic beat is made to be played live to a packed club audience. The main set came to an end with Night on Fire, and Hessu Maxx (drums) played a nice little tribal pattern on the drums before the song got underway. There was plenty of singing throughout this number too, and the band left the stage to huge cheers from the large crowd. There was an encore of course, and another new number called We are the Weekend helped to restart the party, before Jalle Verne's (bass guitar/vocals) bassline heralded the arrival of Hot the synth-heavy closing number. This also saw a lot of singing, and the band seemed overjoyed at the reception they received in Wolverhampton. The setlist was:

Animal Attraction
So Happy I Could Die
Beautiful Bomb
Edge of our Dreams
Born to Break Your Heart
Rock It
Back to Paradise
On the Radio
Night on Fire
We are the Weekend

This was an excellent show from both bands on what I am sure will be another extremely successful UK tour. Both bands seem to be on top of their game at the moment, so go and see a show if you can. I took one of the posters advertising the show from the venue's wall afterwards, and Santa Cruz signed it. That was a nice little bonus to add to an already excellent evening.

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