Pretty Vicious – Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Brighton – 13th November 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

There was a time when Pretty Vicious were touted as the UK’s next big rock band. Championed by Huw Stephens, as well as some huge shows with the likes of Stereophonics in their native Wales, the band swiftly signed a record deal with Virgin EMI. Then, everything went quiet. They silently (and mutually) parted ways with the label, and had to regroup. Now signed to Big Machine Records, the band are currently moving through somewhat of a renaissance, and their Brighton show was another step on the road to recovery.

With a Sticky Mike’s about half full, this could have been a meek return to the South Coast for the quartet from Merthyr Tydfil but, instead, the combination between the band’s exuberant, frenetic nature and their audience’s adolescent energy caused quite the stir, subsequently leaving Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar in a ruckus. Make no mistake about it, no matter what has gone on with the band, they still remain one of the most exciting rock and roll bands in the UK.

Support on the night came from Brighton up-and-comers Murmur, who have been building up a reputation as frenzied noise makers across the city with support slots for the likes of Tigercub and Sick Joy. Here, they are once again impressive. With elements of post-punk and grunge, there’s more than a little of Nirvana about them, but with enough technical nouse to forge their own avenue of sound. Single ‘Fragile’ is anything but, too, with a booming bassline and an incredibly catchy chorus. This is where Murmur revel; incredibly noisy rock and roll tones, but captivating and accessible all the same.

Then, it was time for Pretty Vicious to burst back onto the scene. Blistering into 2015 single ‘Are You Ready For Me’ for their introduction, it was evident that both the band and their fans were up for causing volcanic eruptions in the basement of Sticky Mike’s. “This song is about smashing up a venue” frontman Brad Griffiths announced before ripping into new song ‘These Four Walls’ and the frantic audience took it as a cue to (almost literally) bounce off the walls and make the floor shake. However, this isn’t all the band have got in their arsenal. ‘Playing With Guns’ slowed down the tempo and showcased the band’s softer side. A brooding ballad, it was exciting to see them experiment, and flesh out, their sound.

It has to be said, too, that for such a young band they compiled their setlist expertly. Leaving their four most famous singles ‘National Plastics’, ‘Move’, ‘Cave Song’ and brand-new single ‘Are You Entertained?’ until last meant that not a single member of the audience left without being thoroughly impressed. Loud, raucous, and ensnaring the audience into their rasping charm, it’s here where the band look at their best and tightest. ‘Are You Entertained?’, in particular, has all the makings of a hit rock and roll single: rhythmic drum beats akin to AC/DC, and a wild rhythm section, it all comes together with frontman Brad Griffiths’ frantic howls.

Pretty Vicious are a band that fell out the spotlight but with ‘Are You Entertained?’ and this performance under their belt, they were here to make a statement. “We’re back, we’re still as good as we used to be, and we’re ready for the upper echelons of rock and roll” and, on this evidence, it’s extremely hard to argue with that.

Liam McMillen