Reckless Love, Santa Cruz, live at Scala, London March 31 2016

Two of Finland's heavyweight hard rock acts combine for what has been an extremely well received tour around the UK. With Reckless Love also going down a storm at...

Two of Finland’s heavyweight hard rock acts combine for what has been an extremely well received tour around the UK. With Reckless Love also going down a storm at Hard Rock Hell in Wales, the Finns are riding high in the popularity stakes at the moment. This is further demonstrated by the conformation before the show commences that the venue is sold out for this, the last night of the tour.

Santa Cruz

Last nights on tours, when the pressure is off and the bands want to enjoy themselves can often result in some shenanigans taking place either on or off stage and tonight was clearly going to be no different for the two bands. Things started off very innocently with a slightly reworked printed setlist for Santa Cruz that only seemed to confuse them occasionally.

The options for songs were a little bit left field however and if you contrast what Santa Cruz had presented to them

Bonanza / Paranoid / Remedy / Kill’ Em All / 6(66) Feet Under / Natinki / Paranoid / We Are The Ones To Fall / Gotsa Get Paid / Aiming High

with the typical set-list:

Bonafide Heroes / Velvet Rope/ My Remedy / Bye Bye Babylon / 6(66) Feet Under / Nothing Compares to You / Let Them Burn / We Are the Ones to Fall / Wasted & Wounded / Aiming High

…well it was all a bit confusing.

The set however was delivered with the force, zest and energy that the young Finns have become known for. Santa Cruz play a heavier, gritter type of hard rock than Reckless Love, more in keeping with early Motley Crue or Skid Row but the anthems are there and come thick and fast. It’s no surprise that their début release was called ‘Anthems For The Young ‘n’ Restless’. 

The chirpy, happy approach imbued by a band clearly having a blast at a well packed show is reciprocated ten fold as there is a sea of smiling faces in the crowd as people bounce around as one great sweaty mass.

The set list was an interesting choice. Although some of the show appears to have been down to the wags that altered the names and order of the songs, the ones they played (aside from an interesting but ultimately karaoke version of Paranoid) were not what I would class as their more anthemic moments. Where was ‘Screaming for Adrenaline’, ‘Relentless Renegades’, ‘High on You’. Perhaps the shorter time slot and the fact that many of these have been played live before convinced the band to mix it up a bit.

They tail end the set with both ‘We Are The Ones to Fall’, a song that still brings to mind their excellent video – check it out at the bottom of the page, and ‘Aiming High’ both of which left the crowd happy and tee’d up for the main act, Reckless Love.

Reckless Love

This was the first time I’d ever shot or reviewed a show at Scala so it was always going to be interesting to see how the sound was, what the lighting was going to be like and how the general atmosphere worked in a show.

The most notable thing is that the stage is really and I mean REALLY low. Although there are multiple tiers for people stand on to get a reasonable view of the bands, it did mean I (at 6′ 5″) felt rather concious that every time I moved I’d be blocking the band’s view of the crowd or the crowd’s view of Olli & Co.

As such, I hankered down, got down on my knees and whilst it may have looked like I was worshipping the crowd that Olli walked upon, it was more out of necessity and to avoid being hit with a pint followed by the cry of “get down”.

New album InVader (their IV’th release) has caused a few old school (also read simply old) reviewers to scratch their heads and ask WTF as several tracks really challenge the hard rock aficionado within you. If the trick however is to appeal to the masses and reel in the younger crowd then they are succeeding. It always amazes me how we seem to begrudge bands for trying something different to appeal to the mainstream, generate sales and make a name for themselves. Motley Crue, ‘Home Sweet Home’, KISS, ‘Beth’, ‘I Was Made For Loving You’, to name just a few prove how bands can make a meteoric rise in the public’s eye with catchy songs that don’t fit other material they’ve previously released. Credit then to Reckless Love for playing both ‘Back to Paradise’ and ‘Scandinavian Girls’, perhaps two of most talked about tracks from their catalogue that show they are in tune with the pop charts as much as they are with the rock charts. .

Again, with a doctored setlist that ran as follows:

Animal Love / So Nappy I Could Hide / Rooster / Beautiful Bob / Panda / Hedge Of Our Street / Scandinavian Gay / Born To Breakdance / Suck It / Back To Parasite / On The Radio / High On Fire : ENCORE: Weekend / Hotsauce

Compare it to what it should have been and oh, how we laughed at those crazy Finns although I have to say I’d love to hear reworked lyrics for Beautiful Bob and Rooster

Animal Attraction / So Happy I Could Die / Monster / Beautiful Bomb / Badass / Edge of Our Dreams / Scandinavian Girls / Born to Break Your Heart / Rock It / Back to Paradise / On the Radio / Night on Fire : ENCORE We Are the Weekend / Hot

The solos from Pepe come thick and fast and anyone doubting the rock credentials of the band at the moment need look no further than some of the stunning, streamlined, shred-tastic licks that he peels off with ease. Live, Reckless Love benefit from the improvisation, groove and energy that Pepe, Hessu and Jalle bring to the table. The sound, from where I was crouched to avoid being a target for pint glasses, was pretty good and Olli’s voice sounded in fine form despite him recovering from a bout of flu.

The afore mentioned ‘Scandinavian Girls’ opens with a warm intro from Olli who points out the similarities between the local ladies in Finland and those in London before the moment is ruined in fabulous style by Santa Cruz who return to the stage as Scandinavian drag queens. It would be wrong for me to pass judgement on them but Middy looked quite hot…

First encore ‘We Are The Weekend’ is a definite crowd pleaser and an immense sing-along anthem. Second was ‘Hot’ is their cherry on the cake and never fails to leave the room buzzing. Everyone piled back on stage with Santa Cruz bringing the beer to the party. Thanks and farewells to crew, management, the sandwich lady and so on were nice to hear but sadly knocked out the normal closer of ‘One More Time’. Otherwise a sweaty, bouncy, happy, mosh of a gig. Good times from a couple of great bands.

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Photo Credit: Ange Cobham

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