Hands Off Gretal 4620 - Brudenell Social Club Leeds - 24th Nov 2021

LTW - Hands Off Gretal 4884 - Brudenell Social Club Leeds - 24th Nov 2021Hands Off Gretel | Scarlet | As Sirens Fall
Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
24th November 2021

Hands Off Gretel return to the iconic Brudenell Social Club with a set of impassioned, throat-shredding punk rock & roll. Andy Brown shares his thoughts for Louder Than War.

Back in March 2020, I was standing in this very venue watching Hands Off Gretel tear up the stage with a furiously fun set of punk rock. I wasn’t to know at the time but it would be one of the last gigs I’d go to for around 16 long, COVID-heavy months. Of course, one little pandemic wasn’t about to slow down vocalist, guitarist, songwriter and all-round rock & roll queen, Lauren Tate. With the band on a kind of enforced hiatus, Tate took it on herself to unleash an album by her rap-rock solo project, Delilah Bon. Now restrictions have lifted and Gretel have emerged from hibernation to join Delilah; their eyes firmly fixed on world domination.

Scarlet kicked things off last year, so it only feels right that they’re back at the Brudenell tonight. The Manchester-based four-piece sound even bigger than they did before as they deliver a set brim-full of energy, melody and soaring, grunge-inspired rock. Post-punk basslines throb under a wall of melodic guitars and Jessie Robinson’s passionate, pitch-perfect vocal. Wrong Way captures the band’s knack for combining big rock guitars with impossibly catchy, pop-inflected hooks. They look like they’re having an absolute riot too; with Robinson and lead guitarist Adam dropping to their knees to worship at the altar of live rock ‘n’ roll.

Scarlet 2043 - Brudenell Social Club Leeds - 24th Nov 2021 Scarlet 5034 - Brudenell Social Club Leeds - 24th Nov 2021

“For a long time we’d say we were from Leeds for people from the South” explains As Sirens Fall vocalist Mikey Lord, “but fuck it, we’re from Keighley”. It’s one of many moments over their set that’s greeted with cheers of adoration. I’ll confess, the band’s brand of emo-styled angst doesn’t really connect with me at first. Yet despite my initial reservations, it’s impossible not to be won over. Dressed in what must be an uncomfortably warm stripey jumper; Lord energetically bounds around the stage and that unyielding enthusiasm proves to be highly infectious. They bring the whole room together; getting us to jump in unison and sing along at the top of our lungs.

LTW - As Sirens Fall 1868 - Brudenell Social Club Leeds - 24th Nov 2021

Hands Off Gretel let rip with the fierce In The Eyes, channeling the raw power of The Stooges. It’s been a while, but it’s plain to see that the band are well and truly back in business. Milk comes next with a colossal wall of heavy, untempered, grunge-inspired guitars. The lyrics address animal cruelty and veganism with unparalleled passion as Lauren Tate’s distinctive, throat-shredding scream tears through the room. It’s a very clear reminder that beyond the great riffs and energy, Hands Off Gretel are a band with something to say. And isn’t that exactly what punk is all about?

Crouching at the front of the stage, Tate delivers the songs to the outstretched hands and wide eyes of the front row. Hands Off Gretel are all about making that connection and spreading a little punk rock spirit. This is a band who built their reputation one gig at a time; propelled by their (very clear) passion and the fervid support of their fans. The mother of all mission statements, I Want The World perfectly captures the bands enduring spirit. The eternal underdogs, poised and ready to pounce at any given moment. Their energy spills off the stage and into the hearts and minds of the ever-attentive audience.

LTW - Hands Off Gretal 5872 - Brudenell Social Club Leeds - 24th Nov 2021

Tate tells us that she wasn’t sure how popular the band were in Leeds. Yet as shots of tequila and cheers of approval flow towards the stage, the sheer love for South Yorkshire’s finest is absolutely crystal clear. It’s My Fault and the excellent Freaks Like Us feel like they come from a very personal place yet connect with the audience like a handwritten letter from an old friend. The latter absolutely tears my heart out. The overall feeling tonight is one of catharsis and fun. You know things are going well when mentioning that you’re off to see Dirty Dancing in the morning is met with a round of applause. Guitarist Sean Bon is suitably baffled and amused. Nobody puts Hands Off Gretel in the corner.

The band are so incredibly well-honed that the set never dips or loses momentum. Badass bassist Becky Baldwin and dexterous drummer Sam Hobbins lay down the rhythms while Tate and Bon bring the raucous riffs. S.A.S.S shakes and swings while the riotous, witty and wild She Thinks She’s Punk Rock N Roll is riot grrrl reborn (not that it went anywhere). These are songs driven by empowerment, feminism and the desire for change.

Hands Off Gretal 4620 - Brudenell Social Club Leeds - 24th Nov 2021

Before the band unveil a new song called War, Tate explains how it was knocked back by some big cheese in the industry. Said big kahuna told Tate that he didn’t listen to lyrics and that her songs didn’t have any hooks. Naturally, this kind of rampant idiocy is only fuel to Tate’s fire. Musically, the track melds explosive punk with unexpected jazz-esque influences while the lyrics call time on entrenched toxic masculinity. “She said don’t you believe me!??” screams Tate as the song ploughs through the crowd. Tate goes on to say that while it would be great to see more women on festival line-ups, people actually needed to start listening to them too. All of this and we even get a ridiculously exciting cover of Nirvana’s Territorial Pissings and two encores. Hands Off Gretel don’t need to take over the world, it’s already theirs.

~

You can find Hands Off Gretel on their website as well as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

All photos by Neil Chapman | Facebook

All words by Andy Brown. You can visit his author profile and read more of his reviews for Louder Than War here.

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Hi. Andy Brown here. I wrote a tonne of reviews for Soundblab Alternative Music between 2010 -2020. Very excited to be writing for the excellent Louder Than War!

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