Taylor Momsen, the frontwoman of American rock outfit The Pretty Reckless, strutted onto the stage of The Ritz in Manchester to a cacophony of chaotic sirens. Her blond hair swept over her face, temporarily concealing her trademark black eyeshadow and her long, studded leather jacket trailed behind her.
She headbanged ferociously to Jamie’s crashing drums which were in tandem with Mark’s strong bass guitar on the opening track ‘Follow Me Down’. The song ended with a bluesy guitar riff courtesy of the lead guitarist Ben Phillips, establishing the whole band as a formidable force early on in the set.
Later, the stage was drowned in yellow light as more of Ben’s eerie, ghostly guitar played out. Taylor lunged and stomped around in her knee high leather boots, shouting and screaming the vocals to ‘Oh My God’ full of rage. Despite being the only woman in the band, Taylor was not the centre of attention. I found myself drawn to the epic guitar riffs or the prevailing bass guitar on brooding tracks such as ‘Hangman’. Taylor leant on her bandmate’s shoulders at various points during the show, as if they were her brothers.
Some songs felt like mosh pit starters, but not even one mosh pit occurred! This was perhaps because the crowd was so diverse, with teens nearer the front and older rock fans at the back. This changed the atmosphere and made Taylor realise that she had to command the crowd in other ways. After this, she demanded several singalongs, such as ‘Make Me Wanna Die’, which she proclaimed as “the first song they ever released as a band”. And the response from the audience was ecstatic, leading Taylor to reach out into the front row.
Momsen proved herself to be a true rock goddess throughout, stomping around with swagger and attitude, which came through on the lyrics “You can have my money, have me on my knees, you can have my body, but you can’t have me” from the track ‘Prisoner’. At first glance, the band appear to be quite conventionally ‘rock’, but the use of flutes on tracks such ‘Sweet Things’ and the vocal harmonies between Ben and Taylor shows that their sound is multifaceted. This was proven on the country/folk-tinged ‘Light Me Up’, the title track of their first record, and it was a refreshing departure from her previously over-reverberated, screaming vocals and it gave Taylor an opportunity to show off her voice.
However, playing these slower tracks plagued the band with a serious case of ‘front row statues’. It took tracks such as ‘Heaven Knows’ and the incredibly catchy ‘Going to Hell’ to reinvigorate the crowd, but they succeeded. The band returned to the stage for an encore, kickstarting a manic reaction on ‘F**ked Up World’, with people on shoulders and everyone jumping. Sadly, the song trailed off into a random, borderline electronic drum solo which left most of the audience looking puzzled, but the rest of the band eventually returned to the stage, ending the gig triumphantly in a typically rock ‘n’ roll fashion.