Gig review: RECKLESS LOVE – The Garage, Highbury, London, 11 December 2014

RECKLESS LOVE - The Garage, Highbury, London, 11 December 2014

Colourful Finnish glam metal revivalists Reckless Love have built quite a following in England despite a paucity of mainstream rock media coverage, and indeed the house full signs were up as I arrived at the Garage for the last stop of their UK tour.

This one has been billed, slightly tongue in cheek, as the ‘Last Blast From The Past’, suggesting many of what we must now call oldies from their three album career will be retired from the live set when they have a new album to tour.

With their sense of fun and bouncy, hook –filled songs combined with a packed house, a party atmosphere was guaranteed from the off. They opened with an infectious pair from most recent album Spirit in ‘Night On Fire’ (despite the cardinal cliché of rhyming higher, fire and desire) and ‘So Happy I Could Die’, though it would be more accurate to say that the setlist was mainly a throwback to the first two albums.

Their songs cover a diverse range of bases however, so the catchy ‘Radio’ segues into the altogether trashier ‘Badass’, with singer Olli Herman spitting out the chorus like a younger and less addled Vince Neil.

RECKLESS LOVE - The Garage, Highbury, London, 11 December 2014

Indeed he then followed ‘Dance’, their self-confessed attempt to make a danceable rock song with the tribute to eighties MTV ‘I Love Heavy Metal’,  though it always strikes me with that song that many of the bands name checked like Winger and Warrant would have real old school metalheads spitting out their Newcastle Brown Ale.

A Reckless Love show or album always comes with big side orders of corn and cheese, which may partially account for music industry snobbery towards them. However what really came through this time was that Olli is in on his own joke, warning people that his blonde hair should not be mistaken for stupidity and after paying tribute to guitarist Pepe’s songwriting skills confessing that he then wrote the most ridiculous lyrics to match them.

RECKLESS LOVE - The Garage, Highbury, London, 11 December 2014

He is one of rock’s natural frontmen, radiating energy even if I felt at times his voice sounded a bit strained, and the spotlight always seems to naturally fall on him, but they are a well-drilled if basic unit with Jelle Verne and Hessu Maxx a solid rhythm section.

In between the more reflective ‘Sex’ and ‘Edge Of Our Dreams’, the rest of the set was one catchy, fist in the air classic after another, in ‘Back To Paradise’, ‘Wild Touch‘ and ‘Born to Break Your Heart’, where all the songwriting effort has been focused on an instant and memorable chorus designed for the live arena. The modern day glam trash classic ‘Beautiful Bomb’ closed matters in similar fashion even if, as my gig companion reminded me, it is impossible to escape the Tigertailz comparisons.

RECKLESS LOVE - The Garage, Highbury, London, 11 December 2014

There was a generous set of encores beginning with the title track of their sophomore release ‘Animal Attraction’ and I was struck how this seemed to go down as well as any, and a surprise in ‘Romance’, where Olli even conducted the crowd in the sort of mass swaying of hands only associated with Slade at this time of year.

However the moment everyone had been waiting for was ‘Hot’, surely one of the catchiest numbers of the decade, its glam metal-goes-Ibiza rhythms having the whole place jumping. There was still time, appropriately enough, for a bonus in their first ever single, the rough and ready ‘One More Time’ to keep the party pot boiling, and take the set to a respectable hour and 20 minutes, significantly longer than reports I had heard from earlier tour dates.

Wherever their musical direction goes from here, this set showcased Reckless Love’s work to date at its finest and no-one can have left without a big smile on their face.

Review and photos by Andy Nathan

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