Whoever said that rock and roll is dead, obviously had never seen Reckless Love or Santa Cruz in concert.
It’s Monday night, and the North East rock fraternity are out in force, and on a school night too. But that doesn’t matter because these Scandinavian brothers in arms bring the weekend with them wherever they go. Both Reckless Love and Santa Cruz are flying the flag for good time rock and roll all over the world.
Santa Cruz kick off the proceedings, and the energetic Finnish quartet has a large contingent of their fans in the audience. This being their third visit to the city, it’s easy to understand why their supporters keep coming back for more.
The band has somewhat of a heavier edge than Reckless Love. Think of maybe a “Slave To The Grind” era Skid Row, their songs are packed with crunchy guitar riffs. Singer Arttu “Archie” Kuosmanen is engaging and likes to get up close and personal, balancing on the security fence as he orchestrates the audience, particularly during “6 (66) Feet Under” from their latest self-titled album. For the spectacle of it all Archie gets the fans to sit on the floor, they jump to their feet and the room erupts as the song kicks in.
Following a request earlier in the day, the band swap out their setlist to include “Let’s Get The Party Started” and didn’t they just. Before Santa Cruz had even broken into a note of “We Are The Ones To Fall” their enthusiastic followers were already chanting the chorus.
Santa Cruz closes out their set with “Wasted and Wounded” and “Aiming High” from their debut album Screaming For Adrenaline, which has an unmistakable air of eighties classic rock, that makes it sound so familiar. During the set finisher guitarist Joonas “Johnny” Parkkonen was rocking so hard he snapped a string, but that didn’t stop him from finishing the show. The rhythm section of Mitja “Middy” Toivonen and Tapani “Taz” FagerstrÃ¶m deliver a tight groove, with some pounding bass line and additional cowbell.
Headliners Reckless Love released their eagerly anticipated fourth album InVader last week. As the band takes to the stage, their intro tape “The Boys Are Back In Town” by Thin Lizzy rolls and it doesn’t take long for the packed out O2 Academy 2 in Newcastle to get hot and sweaty.
Front man Olli Herman certainly grabs your attention, he has all of the stage prowess of a young Dave Lee Roth and comes complete with the high kicks. The band has an appreciation of what came before them. With the recent end to their predecessors Motley Crue, they are carrying the torch for the glam rock bands of old and delivering the spirit of their beloved music to a new generation of fans. Although those who might have been around during the hair metal renaissance of the 80’s and early 90’s, seem to be enjoying them just as much.
If you listen hard to their music it’s easy to hear their influences, tracks like “Rock It” and “On The Radio” could sit happily in the “Hysteria” era Def Leppard catalogue, or Bon Jovi “Slippery When Wet” repertoire. Front man Olli showing his love for Sheffield’s finest by emblazing a Def Leppard patch across the back of his denim jacket.
The band debut several tracks from their excellent latest offering including new single “Monster”, “Hands” and “Bullettime” before taking us back to the beginning of their career with the ever so catchy “Beautiful Bomb,” which features some superb melodies.
Reckless Love close out their main set with “Night On Fire” from 2013’s Spirit album, leaving the stage to chants of “we want more” from the adorning Geordie fans. Not wanting to disappoint the band return to finish the night off in style with the rather apt “We Are The Weekend” and “Hot,” with the fans hanging on every word.
Reckless Love takes their bow to rapturous applause, and exit to the sounds of the theme song to the movie Smokey and the Bandit. If it’s good old-fashioned rock and roll you are looking for, look no further than Finland’s favourite sons.