Plus support from BlackRain and The Wild Lies.
Reckless Love to take over the Barfly for October 2012. The announcement was met with, dare I say it: cynicism and a few hidden smiles. Would they really? Play 4 Thursdays in the hope that fans, preferably different ones each time, would sell the show out every week while they filled in time trawling from Glasgow to Reading and back again? Whether they hoped or not, those hidden smiles turned from mockery to, a sort of pride almost.
But let’s start at the beginning, where it didn’t start so well. The Wild Lies are an up-and-coming rock band from High Wycombe, Bucks; the first similarity to older counterparts Jettblack. The second? They act like them; they sound like them; they even look like them to some extent, but The Wild Lies just don’t seem to have grown up yet. There’s a sad element of puppy clumsiness about them and while they held the stage with drive and enthusiasm, there wasn’t that command or quirky arrogance that can work a crowd. Of course, it’s all down to experience; in their favour, the sound was tight throughout and, among the medley of songs, there were some like Heartbreaker, Stone Cold Love and Angels that were catchy enough to engage the first-time listener.
French rockers BlackRain have been a little quiet on the scene recently. It turns out they’ve been recording their third album while dabbling in live performances here and there across Europe. Singer Swan wild-eyed the audience while delivering blisteringly high-vocals akin to those on the albums. No airs or graces here, just good rock’n’roll played to entertain and to please. The fact that all the band members have their own unique style, threaded loosely together by the glam-punk theme, made it even more appealing and diverse to watch. The set list was well-rehearsed but appeared a little formulaic at times, almost boredom for a couple of the band members; I won’t name names. A solid performance however and a band who can live up to their albums, if not out-perform them slightly in the enjoyment sense.
On to the main event. Reckless Love have a special place in their hearts for the Barfly, it being one of their first shows in the UK for their self-titled debut. Apparently now confident of their spirited live show and passionate stage-craft, this time they were here to show the UK fans something really special. And they did, too. After seeing them a few times I was starting to get bored but singer Olli Herman cranked up his smile and, less enchantingly, his hip gyrations. Grinning, punching, chanting, laughing; we saw it all as the band ran through hits from both of their albums. Notable performances were those on Sex where Olli’s voice rang clear of coarseness, Dance and the more up-beat One More Time; an effortless crowd-pleaser.
Ok, so Olli beamed a little too much and the dancing can make you cringe, but at least you have no doubt that this band are desperate to provide you with a spectacle. Olli is a showman and while I berate the vanity in him, where would he be without it? I suppose the one downside was that at times it came across as a little false; as if they flicked the switch and the lights went down, their smiles lit up and they played out of habit while careering around the stage. The songs were tight yes but sometimes they need just a bit more straight solid playing and fewer enhancements. The vocals were ridiculously over-effected; just because it’s on the album does not mean we need it live. On the upside, they were more manipulative with their sound too; Jalle’s bass at a fantastically heart-jumping boom while Hessu pounded out his bass drum until he was happy with the level. Yes, I expect to see musicians in control like this, but you’d be surprised at how many who aren’t.
The set list was roughly just over an hour, including the sensual Push – a track recently released on the mini Animal Attraction album; this catchy, glammed up tune just goes to show that this band can still write original material. The band never failed to interact with the crowd, grouping together at the end for a final bow. They promised something special and that’s what the Barfly crowd got; who can say whether the two previous Thursdays were better, or even if the next one will be? It doesn’t matter, because while Reckless Love may, to quote Olli “wear a bit of make-up and look like girls,” if you like fist-pumping rock and a passably solid performance you will never fail to have a good time at a Reckless Love gig.
Review by JJ Lee / Photos by Sophie Garrett. More photo delights in the gallery.