RECKLESS LOVE – Tavastia, Helsinki, 20.09.2014

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Several decades ago, tight pants, wild hair, and kinky lyrics may have made you think about good old bands like Def Leppard and Aerosmith. In these days, the old fans have brought the style back and Finnish boys, Reckless Love, had a show in Tavastia on September 20th, 2014, to show off their version of glam metal during an off-tour gig.

The show was either 30 minutes late starting, or I had misread the start time, but either way, it worked to my advantage as I had a bit of trouble getting to the venue. I made it in good time though, and was able to find a great place to see the stage. The first thing I noticed was that this was a very female-centric crowd. My bad math would estimate that the crowd was 90% women of all ages, but mostly young adults (which may have something to do with vocalist Olli Herman being the type of guy who takes his shirt off, and looks good when he does it). You can’t help but be impressed that they guy settled down and got married.

The stage grew dark and the instruments came on stage, to be shortly joined by Herman, and the show kicked off with “I Love Heavy Metal,” a catchy, albeit painfully cheesy track that professes love for famous classic metal and glam rock bands. They followed this up immediately with “So Happy I Could Die,” which is rather reminiscent of Mötley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart.”

After the first two, they paused to let Herman speak to the crowd and welcome everyone. I couldn’t help but notice that his speaking voice was deeper than I would have expected just based off how he looks. It’s common in Finnish men, but masked by the glam style it still came as a bit of a surprise. His singing voice is also a little gritty at times, which I thought was interesting and brings a little spice to the genre that might not have been common back in the day.

Most of the first half of the show consisted of tracks from the latest album, 2013’s Spirit, barring “Back to Paradise” from their self-titled debut album from 2010. A funny little thing I noticed, and feel free to correct me if I just wasn’t paying enough attention, but it seemed to me that Herman only did high-kicks on stage when they were doing songs from Reckless Love. I wondered if that was intentional or just a coincidence.

Myself, I was particularly glad to hear them play “Sex, Drugs, & Reckless Love” midway through the set. Of all of their songs, that was the one I was looking most forward to hearing live. It’s exactly the kind of song that’s perfect for a live performance. It’s good a nice message, a catchy tune, and a good line for singing along. It’s a perfect track to get a crowd hyped up and self-advertise at the same time. In the case of this track, “When life is feeling blue/ All you’ll ever need to do/ Is add a lot of sex, little drugs, and Reckless Love!” It’s a fantastic song, so I was delighted to find out that it was just as good live as well.

It looked like the show brought in an interesting crowd too, alongside the mostly-female thing – it seems that a fair-sized chunk of them had come in from Sweden and Demark. It was nice that they made note of this because Herman opted to speak English every now and then when talking to the crowd. Between this and my reasonable grasp of the Finnish language, I was able to get a fair idea of what was going on most of the time. Before they played “Edge of Our Dreams,” he spoke a bit about the last time (or first time?) they played at Tavastia and the road they’ve been on to the present day. Likewise, after “Romance,” he mentioned that the message in that song was all a lie because there is no bromance or romance. Love is just the feeling that we miss. That was, of course, a clever little segue into “Animal Attraction.” And you can’t have “Animal Attraction” without copious pelvic gyration, am I right?

Before the final track, Herman stopped to introduce the band – the gentleman on bass, Jalle Verne (who is sporting a really questionable mustache on his otherwise cute face these days). The man with the great posture, the lord of the strings, Pepe. And the shirtless man behind the drum kit, Hessu Maxx. They got the drum beat going and Herman got the crowd to start singing the chorus of “Hot” before they finished off the main set. Incidentally, I don’t really know how but Herman manages to sort of mimic the women he’s singing about, and he pulls it off while keeping his manly bravado/without coming off as effeminate – it’s more like a sexy guy praising sexy girls by making the same movements they would. It’s a bit strange to see, but it works for him.

And it really isn’t a Reckless Love show without Olli Herman taking off his shirt. He started the show in a white leather jacket but that didn’t last long. Though he didn’t tear any shirts off and throw them into the crowd this time around, he was wearing red suspenders underneath his tank, which… there must have been some visual reason for that fashion choice, because last I checked, suspenders were used to keep pants up and I’m reasonably certain that he has never had any trouble keeping those skin-tights from falling down.

When they wrapped up the show and the lights went out, I was left wondering what they were going to do as an encore. All of their biggest hits – “Beautiful Bomb,” “Romance,” “Hot,” “Animal Attraction,” On the Radio, and every good song from the latest album – had been played in the main set. So I was naturally a bit surprised when they ended the show with “One More Time.” This is, in my own opinion, one of the weaker tracks from the first album. I suppose thematically it’s a good song to end the night but it doesn’t come even close to the top of my list for catchiest songs of theirs so I would even go so far as to say that it was a poor choice to end the show. I feel that gigs should leave you craving the band’s sweet musical touch, but this song sort of leaves you with an, “Ehh, I’ve had better,” sensation. I’d have considered it a better call to end with “Night on Fire” or any of the other hard-hitting tracks from Spirit, but that’s just me.

Overall, the choice of an encore is small potatoes compared against the amount of fun the rest of the show provided. With the fingerless leather gloves, bandanas, tight pants, eyeliner, and big hair, these guys define the glam metal genre. They have the oomph and presence of a stadium band but were a few decades late for the peak time for their style. It’s a shame on one hand, but it’s fantastic for the fans that get to see this style of music in an intimate venue. For those of you who are into these modern hair metal bands like Steel Panther and Santa Cruz, this is definitely another band to add to the list because they are nothing if not a good time.

Be sure to check out some fan-filmed footage from RainbowDemon (more on the YouTube page):
Sex, Drugs, & Reckless Love

Night on Fire

Setlist:
1. I Love Heavy Metal
2. So Happy I Could Die
3. On the Radio
4. Bad Lovin’
5. Edge of Our Dreams
6. Sex, Drugs, & Reckless Love
7. Dance
8. Born to Break Your Heart
9. Beautiful Bomb
10. Romance
11. Animal Attraction
12. Night on Fire
13. Hot

Encore:
14. One More Time

Text: Amy Wiseman

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