LIVE: Reckless Love – Islington Academy 26/11/11
Ah, the 80s: A time of riots, Conservative party rule, mass unemployment and the lingering threat of Global Thermo Nuclear War. So much for bringing them back, look around kids – THEY LIVE . So what next, time to buy shares in Spandex and Aquanet? Finland’s “Merry Metallers” Reckless Love seem keen.
For the uninitiated, Reckless Love are a four piece pop-metal-glitter-bomb let loose upon a department store makeup counter. Formed back in 2001, tonight finds the band back in the UK for a short splash and dash tour to promote their sophomore album, Animal Attraction.
By rights, I should lap up the brand of airbrushed 80s rock revivalism on show – tucked away between the likes of AC-DC and ZZ-Top in my vinyl collection you’ll find the likes of Kik Tracee, Stryper, TigerTailz even a couple of Wrathchild LPs. To be blunt, I’m not a man afraid of a zebra print codpiece.
And yet, from the moment Reckless Love’s Beautiful Bomb video dropped into my inbox and on to Kerrang TV’s playlist, something about these guys felt amiss. Two long years of internal monologue and half a dozen tunes into tonight’s show later, I have an epiphany – and you don’t get to say that too often about nights out in Islington.
At this juncture I usually like to throw a few kind words the way of the support act, a slot occupied on this tour by The Dirty Youth, a gang of five from Newport, South Wales. Pink-haired punk-rock princess Danni Monroe makes for a ballsy, feisty and photogenic vocal point, so it comes as no surprise to learn later that the band are currently reaping the rewards of a strong management deal.
Unfortunately to this jaded old hack, financial backing and an appearance at Download still counts for nowt. The pseudo-American vocals magnetise my ears to thoughts of Paramore’s tit-less wonder Hayley Williams, and it all sounds a bit 2009. But hey, the crowd seem to dig it, so what do I know?
Reaping even more yelps, squeals and cheers from tonight’s audience though, let’s return to the headliners and their frontman, ex-Crashdiet singer Olli Herman, who has the looks, the locks and the cheekbones to claim ancestral heritage all the way back to the granddaddy of glam himself, David Lee Roth.
And it’s half way through a Diamond Dave high-kick that I finally solve my puzzle. Contrary to what the gut-reaction, the promo and maybe even the band themselves might have you believe… Reckless Love are NOT an 80s throwback. The Beautiful Bomb might have aimed at the summer of ‘85, but critically it’s drifted half a decade off course to the polished third-generation glam shirt tails of the early 90s.
Take any of the bands so liberally borrowed from tonight, dissect their DNA, and what you’ll find is some distinctly 70s inspiration. In Bon Jovi read Springsteen, in G’n’R find The Stones, with Def Leppard it was Steve Clark’s Jimmy Page obsession. It’s a small detail, but a key one.
The Reckless sound on the other hand has all the synths and shine of the decade of debauchery, but lacks the heritage, and instead, skipping through the set-list, we get to play match the 80s pop smash to the 90s grungedodgers. Dirty Dreams is Cutting Crew meets Roxy Blue. Sex is a trist of A-ha, Is This Love? and Billy Idol’s Eyes Without A Face. For Wild Touch, thinks Blondie’s Call Me given a work out by the Sleeze Beez.
Sure, it all feels a bit Fisher Price My First Rock Album and not so much ‘radio friendly’ as ‘a bit rapey’, but Olli’s pretty boy looks shouldn’t detract from a fantastic set of pipes – YouTube Crashdiet’s In The Raw to catch them in maximum overdrive. In Hot and Dance there’s even occasional concessions to the 21st century, albeit the Max Martin school of chart-friendly Europop, but don’t let that put you off. Reckless Love provide plenty of bounce to the ounce, likeable tunage and a risk-free induction into seedier venues for young and old alike.
Not quite sure how this review ended with me going all Judith Chalmers… (it was always on the cards – A, Ed.)
Words by Karl Eisenhauer, photos by Sophie Garrett.