Review by Ivor Whitten for MPM
Even with the miserable weather making the place feel so wet and dreary, people from all walks of life were patiently lining up around the builiding to enter into the iconic Ulster Hall were all smiles this evening. As they were filing into the hall the excitement to see the globally renowned The Pretty Reckless was plain to see.
The New York City rockers, headed up by Taylor Monson, have had an incredible 12-year journey from small gigs to successive number one hits, platinum plaques, and some of the biggest stages in the world. And now they are back in Belfast in support of their most recent album, “Death by Rock and Roll”’.
Supporting them tonight are UK rockers The Cruel Knives, formed in 2016 with Tom Harris, Al Junior, Sid Glover and Rob Ellershaw.
The Ulster Hall was packed for this sold-out show and there was a palpable anticipation in the air that tonight was going to be a good night of rocking out. A slight haze permeated the lit hall from the stage as everyone chatted, getting themselves ready for the show.
Then the lights went down, and a roar erupted. Strange electric piano tones started blaring out and on came the Cruel Knives to howls of appreciation.
And as soon as The Cruel Knives kicked into “Black Eye Friday” everyone knew they were in for a night of good solid rock. Looking very comfortable on stage.
“Belfast how we doing? We are The Cruel Knives” was the refrain from the stage. The loud response told the band that Belfast was ready for some excellent post hardcore rock tonight. And with that they went into “The life that we made” which had a hard pounding rhythm rolling off the stage and had everyone rocking out.
The riffage just kept coming with “Overdose”, an excellent piece of solid rock that got the riffs going once more and hit home well. The music and vocals shared the Hall fitting well into the iconic hall. Then came the call to arms of “BELFAST! Make some noise.” as they laid down the mid track to build into a crescendo.
Then the drum beat thumped and hands clapped in time, all while the guitar screamed out a driving rhythm and they began “Hollow People” a solid rhythmic song that just resonated round the hall.
Once more the vocalist, Tom shouted once more “Belfast how we doing tonight?” only to get a friendly heckle that he’s so sexy, which raised a wry smile from him. Screams were raised as he then took off his jacket. The banter between singer and audience was wonderfully light-hearted and showed the crowd how this band could pull together well to deliver a great performance.
Hands were raised in the air and a lot of audience singing ensued as they finished the song before finishing their set with “Crawl” from their first ep. The roar of appreciation gave them the signal that they had done their job well tonight as they kept everyone entertained as the support for tonight’s headliner.
Then the inevitable interlude as everything was reset for The Pretty Reckless. As the hubbub became almost a white noise circling the hall, it soon stopped when the lights went down and changed to a huge roar as an air raid siren blasted out, a bass rumbling shuck the room and the vocals of Taylor Monson reverberated around the hall. The lights went up and Taylor and the rest of The Pretty Reckless where there in all their glory thumping out “Death by Rock and Roll” as she swirled and twirled across the stage.
“Belfast, how are you guys doing tonight? Thank you all for coming out” came her question only to have everyone scream back their answer. The rapturous excitement was palpable and the whole crammed building seemed to be completely mesmerised with the band as they easily manoeuvred around the stage making entirely their own.
Then came “Since You’re Gone” and “Only Love Can Save Me Now” as taylor started using the different platform boxes on the stage all to roars of approval. All she had to do was a theatrical bow and the crowd went absolutely wild.
Next was “Follow Me down”, a wonderful bluesy rock tune that felt sultry and incredible. With a lovely blues breakdown in the middle everyone was clapping delightedly along.
Taylor addressed the crowd saying “Thank you. Belfast. How are you guys doing tonight. This is a first for us. We are going back to the very first song. This is Make Me Wanna Die.” The screaming was deafening and continued every time Taylor motioned a little encouragement before The Pretty Reckless drove into “Miss Nothing”.
Belfast, as its close to Halloween” was all Taylor had to say before they started into “Sweet Things” where the audience became swathed in bloody red light. The Halloween theme continued with “Witches Burn” during which Taylor expertly deployed the old trope of pointing out the different sections of the crowd to which they responded with loud roaring and singing as loud as they could. “Belfast, keeping in the Halloween theme this one is called Zombie”. And the approval from the crowd was ecstatically loud. Without little pause they went into “Just tonight”. All the while the packed crowd were screaming, singing, waving and seemed to have plenty of energy to keep going.
Then Taylor took a moment to talk to the audience saying “Belfast!!! You guys are as sexy as hell. Thank you for letting us get our shit together. Let’s have some participation. We have been living in a crazy world. In fact, it felt like “Going to Hell”!” And with that a thumping track pounded out and had heads banging and fists pumping the air. During the break down time Taylor once more employed the trope of audience participation but with a wonderful flair and the crowd were more than responsive. “Get them up. I can see you all. Now scream I’m going to hell!!!!” The roar of appreciation was truly deafening, and the singalong raised the roof.
Then came “Heaven Knows”, with a wonderful and interactive long play solo from Ben Phillips much to the joy of everyone there.
Finally, Taylor addressed th e audience saying “We really appreciate you all coming out tonight – I want to rock, I want Roll and I want to make music. Sing it if you know it. This is “Take Me down”. To which the crowd willing obliged. And so, they finished their set, but it did not stop there as they came back out onto stage to finish the whole performance on a deserved high with “Nothing left to lose” and “Fucked Up World”
Overall, The Pretty Reckless produced a superlative performance delivering a pure symbiosis of instruments and vocals. It was a top-notch performance that must be experienced. The cruel Knives also delivered a smooth well-oiled performance that marks them out as a band top keep an eye on as well.
The Pretty Reckless are on tour and you should try to get a ticket to go see them. They are well, well worth it. They deliver an outstanding show and you can see where they are playing next at https://theprettyreckless.com/
Find out more about The Cruel Knives at https://www.thecruelknives.com/