It is a long while, more than two years thanks to Covid, since I last saw the wonderful Hands Off Gretel play live. So I was really looking forward to this show. Did they deliver? Well just read on to find out because there were also two other bands on the bill. First up was Scarlet, who, for me, had a very punk and very metal Evanescence kind of vibe. This is an exceptionally talented band, especially the drummer who beat the drums with such, precision, passion, and panache that you might have thought his life depended on his performance. Scarlet has a huge sound and huge aspirations and injection of the sass of Joan Jett.
Spookily the next band, As Sirens Fall, supported Hands Off Gretel the last time I saw them back in 2019. They are proud to admit they are from Keighley. Singer Mikey Lord single-handedly made the common old cuppa a proper rock ‘n’ roll drink by having tea as his tipple of choice on stage. Mikey prowls the stage like Axl Rose crossed with Ollie Sykes. He was also sporting a jumper that he may have stolen from Freddie Krueger! Is this the new New Wave Of British Heavy Metal? Powerhouse drums, rifftastic guitar, tasty bass beats, and a singer who has all the right ingredients to become something of a rock god! I promise not to leave it so long before I see As Sirens Fall play live again!
Finally, it was time for Lauren, Becky, Sean, and Sam of Hands Off Gretel to hit the stage and they did it in their usual hard-hitting super bombastic style. This is definitely a band at the top of their game and this was a supernova performance from them. There were so many stand-out moments, particularly rousing workouts of “Milk”, “Alien” (written about Lauren’s now sadly deceased cat), and “I Want The World”. The crowd reaction to a supercharged take on “S.A.S.S” came close to taking the roof off the Brudenell. “She Thinks She’s Punk Rock N Roll” was fiery, bombastic and magnificent! Lauren introduced a new song, “War” by telling us how she had recently played it to a record industry bigwig, who like many in that position was an old, white man. She told him how proud she was of the lyrics, which sound like a fabulous attack on the pale, stale, and male patriarchy. Said bigwig responded with something along the lines of “I don’t listen to lyrics”. That, for me, tells you everything you need to about where the current corporate end of the record industry sits. It is beyond shameful, but it also shows that bands like Hands Off Gretel can make it on their own without a big corporation behind them. Lauren was also passionate about girls coming to gigs and festivals, that is the only way to get more girls in bands because seeing girls playing will lead to more girls wanting to play. This, in turn, will increase the number of female artists on festival bills. Lauren Tate is not only hugely passionate about this and women’s safety at gigs, but you can tell that she really believes in the cause. If only more people were so eloquent about things like this, what a better world it would be. Let me state categorically that I am an old, white, man who is passionate about music and I support Lauren and Hands Off Gretel 100%. These are causes that all genuine music fans should get behind. But it is not just about these causes, Hands Off Gretel are a phenomenal band who deserve huge success. They have the confident swagger of Gwen Stefani in her No Doubt pomp and the hardcore emotionally driven songs that Kurt Cobain excelled at. I think it is worth mentioning how prolific Lauren Tate is too, since 2013, including Hands Off Gretel releases, solo output and more recently Delilah Bon, Lauren has been a part of something like seven albums and countless EPs and singles and the quality never seems to falter. All of the band are supremely skilled in what they do, not just Lauren. Bassist Becky Baldwin not only plays with Hands Off Gretel, but also Fury, Dorja and iDestroy among others. The whole chemistry of Hands Off Gretel is completed by one of the finest guitarists of his generation, Sean Bon and Sam Hobbins, an extraordinary drummer who never fails to keep a stomping, punky beat going on. If you are not a fan of Hands Off Gretel yet, then you are missing out big time!
The crappy photos were taken from the back of the hall using my cheap Chinese Android phone. All the videos were found on YouTube.
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