GIG REVIEW: The Pretty Reckless & The Cruel Knives Live at Backstage, Munich
A Friday night in February is usually not the best time to stand outside a concert venue, unless you want to turn into an icicle, but since the Backstage club in Munich has been sold out for several weeks already, most of the young fans arrived early and warmed each other with wild anticipation. It’s been three years since the American rock sensation The Pretty Reckless last played a headline tour through Germany, but with their latest hit release ‘Who You Selling For’, front lady Taylor Momsen and her rocking gentlemen finally returned to Europe and immediately sold out venues.
The evening started with the British quartet The Cruel Knives, who delivered a modern but rather polished rock sound with ear worm potential. It was an easy game for front man Sid Glover to leave the teenage girls screaming, but overall both music and vocals seemed a little too clean and neat for a sincere rock performance. So it was time to unpolish that iron and bring out the grunge feeling.
With the raw hymn “Follow Me Down”, The Pretty Reckless opened their set and from the first minute on, front woman Taylor Momsen captured the eyes and ears of her – mostly young – fans that passionately sang along to the chorus… and literally every single verse of the rest of the evening. Even though the Nineties have long been gone, the tiny lady with the big roars seemed like a perfectly authentic version of a Riot Grrl, even though she luckily didn’t flash her nipples or other body parts as Courtney Love once used to do. But the grunge level of both lead singers is almost the same and even though lots of people still seem to see the teenage ‘Gossip Girl’ actress in Taylor, she easily prove that it’s not just her outstanding look that keeps her in the spotlight. The 23-year-old knows how to deliver dirty, raw Rock n’roll and few women in the music scene still deliver such a high quality vocal performance with uncontrolled wild fever and unleashed energy.
In her long black leather jacket and high heeled boots she jumped over the stage and obviously lost all the shyness that she still had in 2014, when she mostly hid behind her hair and cramped her microphone stand. By now she enjoyed the imperfect moments and unpredictable little chaos of a live show and that’s what brought an entire new fire to the show. With “Hangman” and the hit single “Make Me Wanna Die” she unleashed a tiny army of headbangers in the Backstage venue.
During ‘My Medicine’ she even picked up the guitar, even though her colleague Ben Philips is still the main axe-master and also did a great job – sometimes it must be surely hard never to be the center of attention, because no matter what Taylor did, all eyes were still on her. During the finisher ‘Fucked Up World’, she picked up a tambourine and looked like a blues rock artist right out of the 70s and with an epic drum solo, The Pretty Reckless finished their set and release their sweat soaked fan base to the bar and back out into the cold winter night.
Although the band clearly does not have the same mainstream status in Germany as they have in their home country, The Pretty Reckless were able to sell out venues all over Europe and bring the true spirit of modern grunge rock over the German South. The times of Taylor Momsen being a sweet TV starlet are over. This young lady surely carries the balls that only few of her male colleagues in the rock scene still have.