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5th November 2022

To hell and back (in a good way): The Pretty Reckless live

The Pretty Reckless stopped off in Manchester as part of their Death by Rock and Roll tour
To hell and back (in a good way): The Pretty Reckless live
Owen Scott @The Mancunion

As the female-fronted band with the most number one’s on the Billboard charts, rock music is something The Pretty Reckless understand well. Fronted by actress, model, and singer Taylor Momsen, they’ve toured with Halestorm, Shinedown and opened for Chris Cornell for Soundgarden’s last performance. Here, they’re touring for their new album Death by Rock and Roll, with The Cruel Knives in tow.

The set opened with ‘Death by Rock and Roll’, a song that serves a dual purpose for the band, at once memorialising their friend and long-time collaborator Kato Khandwala and serving as a mission statement for the band. With this anthemic opener, the band set the tone for the rest of the evening: there would be rock, and lots of it.

Taylor Momsen.     Owen Scott @The Mancunion

The band went on to play ‘Only Love Can Save Me Now’ and ‘And So It Went’ from their new album, with the former’s anthemic chorus sweeping across the crowd, who faithfully sang along to each word. When Taylor Momsen began to sing one of the band’s most well-known songs, ‘Make Me Wanna Die’, the excitement was palpable. The room had got extremely hot with the excitement and movement of the crowd, something Momsen herself acknowledged with, “Are you hot? I know you’re sexy but are you hot?” Between each following song, she had a witty line ready for the audience, to keep the pauses between songs from feeling like pauses.

The band covered a range of songs from their discography, a discography which contains 12 years’ worth of songs. Playing songs from Light Me Up, like ‘Goin’ Down’, and ‘Sweet Things’ from Going to Hell, they delivered consistently strong performances, as one thing from each song’s lyrics and Momsem’s chat between songs became clear: the band think they’re going to hell, and they want you to have fun with them on their journey.

The standout on their journey to hell was ‘Heaven Knows’, another of their most popular hits, with the line, “Oh Lord, Heaven knows, we belong way down below,” being sung like a revelatory cheer, by both Momsen and the crowd. The crowd featured a long guitar solo at the end, which may have gone on for a moment too long, but the band’s skill has to be applauded.

Returning to the stage for the encore with ‘Learn to Fly’ and ‘Fucked Up World’ the band delivered another extended solo, this time a very extended drum solo, featuring Julia Garner’s famous line in Ozark: “If you wanna stop me, you’re going to have to f***ing kill me!” With the drums and electronic sounds, it felt strangely reminiscent of The Warehouse Project for a moment.

The Cruel Knives.      Owen Scott @The Mancunion

The support act, The Cruel Knives, set the scene well, with their soaring vocals and guitars. It was reminiscent of the heyday of bands like Sleeping with Sirens, recalling the sounds and aesthetics of early 2010s rock. Some instances of the microphone cutting out at the start threatened to throw their set into jeopardy, but the band proved the show must go on and continue, delivering a great performance after that minor issue was fixed.

Overall, The Pretty Reckless can be summed up with the name of their album and the tour Death by Rock and Roll. It’s clearly a philosophy for them, all of their songs rooted in the tropes of rock and roll we all know and love, i.e. hell, witches etc. Though some choices, such as the drum solo, could have been cut shorter, they delivered a strong set and showed their love for rock music.


You can check out more from The Pretty Reckless on their website here, and their latest album Death by Rock and Roll here:

Owen Scott

Owen Scott

Head Arts Editor at the Mancunion and culture journalist

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