For the first time in my life I actually got off the train at Wolverhampton rather than just passing through on the way back from Birmingham! The violent hailstorm and grey miserable skies did little to dampen my spirits as I was there to see two Finnish rock bands Reckless Love and Santa Cruz and, although I have seen both before, it was to be the first time I saw them together on the same billing. The venue was The Slade Rooms, which was named in honour of Dave Hill and Don Powell, of English Glam rock band Slade. Conveniently close to the railway station it’s a 500 capacity venue with a large bar area in one room and the stage area in an adjacent room. Pictures of Slade adorn the walls and a large white plastic sheep was on top of the drinks refrigerator although I didn’t know the significance of old Shaun (the Sheep)!
A Country and Western style intro heralded the arrival of Santa Cruz, the first Finnish four piece to grace the stage tonight. Johnny strode on and saluted the audience before Archie bounded on to stage and yelled ‘What the fuck’s up Wolverhampton? Put your hands in the air!’ and the show got underway with the Motley Crue-ish Bonafide Heroes and plenty of hair flying in all directions. These guys do some amazing rotary head banging and the song ended with Archie windmilling his arm too, before holding his guitar aloft. They speak perfect English with an American accent, (American TV gets everywhere!) and Archie said he wanted to see everyone moving right now and told us what a fine bunch we were! Velvet Rope had lots of screaming riffs and piercing screams to match and the band looked really happy to be there in cold, damp Wolverhampton. Middy, Johnny and Taz provided harmonious backing vocals singing along to the ‘Na Na Na Na Na Nas’ in My Remedy. After which Archie told us ‘Thank you Wolverhampton. It’s Saturday Night. There’s going to be a party later on!’ Bye Bye Babylon had a funky start with some powerful riffs and a great rhythm. Archie asked ‘Can I get a Hell Yeah?’ and all obliged then ‘A Fuck Yeah?’ ‘A Santa Cruz?’ then A ______?’ something Finnish which I couldn’t pronounce to shout back let alone attempt to write down!
Archie encouraged everyone to get down on the floor and all obliged by crouching down for 6(66) Feet Under and Archie advised ‘When I scream we all jump up!’ He did indeed scream and everyone jumped up. Archie was bouncing up and down then he was down in the photo pit and someone brought his guitar back, which must have gone off for some quick repairs. ‘The next one’ Archie said was the ‘latest video we put out about burning stuff down called Let Them Burn‘ which started mellower then sped up. Archie said ‘Thank you very, very, very, very, very fucking much people’ and asked us to to give a round of applause to the guy who was fixing his guitar, which we did. Appropriately for such a wet and miserable day in Wolverhampton the next song Can You Feel the Rain started with the sounds of a storm and thunder, a mellower song with the riffs sounding almost waterfall like. We Are The Ones To Fall saw people going wild, and I kept getting hair slapped by the girl next to me headbanging to the music! Archie got down in the pit again and the song ended with a drum roll and lots of cheers. Archie said ‘Thank you. Give it up for Taz on the drums’ A few bars of Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water led into a bit of Queen’s ‘Another One Bites The Dust‘ then something else I recognised but didn’t know, could have been Lady GaGa! Then Wasted & Wounded. Archie asked ‘Do you guys wanna hear one more song before we go? You guys wanna hear one more fucking song?’ and of course we did and they ended their set with the Skid Row-ish Aiming High which saw more hair flying and Archie had ditched his guitar, broken or not allowing him to climb the speakers. ‘Thank you we are Santa Cruz!’ A bit of Motorhead Ace Of Spades (I think) ended the show before Archie’s final words ‘Thank you. Give it up for Reckless Fucking Love!’
Bye Bye Babylon
6 (66) Feet Under
Let Them Burn
Can You Feel the Rain
We Are the Ones to Fall
Wasted & Wounded
Archie – Vocals, Guitar
Johnny – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Middy – Bass, Backing Vocals
Taz – Drums, Backing Vocals
A space age intro led into Thin Lizzy’s The Boys Are Back In Town and the musicians took to the stage with Pepe cupping his ears in a ‘Can’t hear you’ gesture. Then to clapping and cheers on bounded Olli, in a cloud of blonde hair wearing shades, red gloves, a denim waistcoast with a Def Leppard back patch and black pants with a white stripe down the side. Pants so tight he must have been sewn in, which must definitely have helped him reach the high notes, especially when executing the high kicks he did throughout the show along with plenty of pouting, posing and pirouettes! Reckless Love opened with Animal Attraction and I couldn’t help my eyes being drawn to watch Hessu, who was looking rather mean and moody. Next came So Happy I Could Die from their 2014 album Spirit. Olli said what a pleasure it was to be back in UK and asked ‘Is everybody feeling alright?’ How could anyone be not be watching these four good looking flamboyant Finns, with Olli adding a few hip thrusts into the mix to leave the ladies feeling a little faint, and probably a few men too! Olli told us that this was a special tour as ‘Our pals Santa Cruz are with us. The Reckless Cruz tour!’ before saying that they have a new album InVader out (reviewed here) and asked if we wanted to hear a new tune, and lots of cheers indicated that we did. Olli then announced the song ‘Hands’ ‘Hit It Hessu!’ Hands is a great track for a live show, as every time Olli sang the ‘High as you cans’ hands shot up, a great fun song which had all the band smiling and looking happy. The soaring riffs sounded like a guitar dual but there was only Pepe playing frenetically by himself!
Olli donned a leather American policeman’s style hat with studs and said that one of their favourite videos ever had five naked strippers in it. The song being Monster, another song from InVader with more great riffs from Pepe. At the end Olli took his cap off and put it on back to front so he looked like a strange hybrid cross between Benny Hill‘s Fred Scuttle and Pamela Anderson! Olli told us that the UK always holds a special place for them ever since their first record. Then asked ‘Want to hear a new one? No? An old one? You want to hear Beautiful Bomb? Only if you sing along’ and everyone joined in for a Reckless Love singalong. Next Pepe played the opening riffs from Badass, paused then played a few more riffs, another pause, then the rest of the band joined in. Afterwards Olli was encouraging cheers and said ‘Thank you so much. Can you do it one more time for me?’ which led to a few screams. I didn’t catch what was shouted but someone, at the other side of the venue must have requested that he take his top off, although probably in cruder terms, I don’t know the phraseology used as I didn’t hear but Olli obviously did because he asked ‘Is this your first Reckless Love show? There’s never been a show when I haven’t taken my top off. Just wait!’
‘When you buy a ticket you make our dreams come true’ advised Olli ‘We’re just four idiots from Finland. Next was Edge of Our Dreams’ which I thought had a Def Leppard vibe, maybe Pour Some Sugar on Me. Olli then said that one of the best parts of their dream is that they get to do another album and asked ‘Want to hear a new tune?’ Of course we did and we got Bullettime, a fast one which had me thinking of Dave Lee Roth but I also thought of early Iron Maiden, which was a bit strange because they’re not really an influence I would cite for Reckless Love. After that one Olli asked ‘Did you like that one Wolverhampton? Are you going to party hard tonight?’ He said ‘It’s a Saturday, a couple of girls here are really going to party! I asked the same question in Bristol and they were louder’ which elicited some loud boos! So he asked the question again and this time there were loud cheers! The rockers of Wolverhampton were not going to be outdone by the Bristolians!
Born To Break Your Heart came next with Olli’s voice seeming to break a bit on the breaks. After breaking our hearts Olli said ‘We thought of giving you a treat. Would you like to hear a song we’ve never played live before? This is from InVader it’s called Rock It.’ Which reminded me of Crashdiet’s Breaking The Chains and ended with a drum roll and Olli, arms up, asking ‘Did you like that one?’ before we were taken back to the first album and Back to Paradise. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ announced Olli ‘I give you Pepe’ who came forward to play a few riffs, and I picked up a bit of Motorhead again and Olli was encouraging cheers. For the next one Olli said ‘All you need to know is the first letter of my name! Oh Oh Oh On The Radio’ with it’s Bon Jovi vibe, saw lots of arms waving in the audience and had everyone singing along. Like all good things we came to the end and Olli said ‘Thank you so much. We are Reckless Love, the last tune of our set list. Jungle beats! Time to set the Night on Fire‘ which did indeed have a jungle beat plus a few piercing yells and hip thrusts from Olli, who raised his arms in salute before Reckless Love left the stage.
After cheers and claps Olli came back on and asked ‘Are you guys sure you want some more?’ and he said the ‘Next tune is the opening track from our new album We Are The Weekend’ With its fanfare start and Olli doing some serious pouting and hip thrusting, together with some powerful yells before quickly whipping his white t-shirt off, holding the mic stand aloft between his outstretched arms and announcing ‘It’s getting hot. It’s been a pleasure to perform tonight. See you soon! Jalle Verne on bass’ who gave us the funky bass start to Hot which had Olli jumping, a lot of people in the audience were dancing and singing. All that was left to do then was for the band to pose at the front and take a bow, between gyrating their hips to a cotton-eye song, the audience to wave their hands in the air for a photo, and for Olli to throw his sweaty t-shirt to a very lucky lady in the crowd.
Sometimes you see a band and cannot understand why the support band has been chosen as it’s unlikely they will appeal to fans of the headliner, unless they have a very wide and diverse taste. Not so today, fans of one will most probably be fans of the other. In a different pairing Santa Cruz would have blown the headliner off stage. Tonight however the flamboyant Finnish four, who are Reckless Love just pipped them and stole the show leaving the stage on a ‘Hot’ but high finish!
So Happy I Could Die
Edge of Our Dreams
Born to Break Your Heart
Back to Paradise
On the Radio
Night on Fire
We Are the Weekend
Olli Herman – Vocals
Pepe – Guitar
Jalle Verne – Bass
Hessu Maxx -Drums
Review by Louise Swift: Photographs by Heather Fitsell for PlanetMosh