On one of the warmest days of the year I was in the warmest, sweatiest venue I may have ever been in, The Fulford Arms in York, to see to see the mighty Hands Off Gretel perform their 'I Want The World' tour.
If nothing else I knew this gig would be value for money (I had actually bought a ticket in case I didn’t get confirmed as a reviewer). As well as Hands Off Gretel there were three other acts playing. Unfortunately, due to other commitments I wasn’t able to be there at all for the first act and only saw the end of the second, who seemed like a decent band.
I was glad I did see the penultimate act, As Sirens Fall, this band have it all. Stage presence, fantastic songs and a charismatic lead singer, if they get the right breaks they are going to be a serious contender. I found myself getting more and more into their show as they went on. The lead singer made an impassioned speech supporting Lauren (more of that later) and I believed him about putting anyone in the hospital who tried to sexualise him!
The whole night saw a lot of gender role swapping, some of the guys in this band looked better in their dresses than others but every single one of them gave it their all in what was a blistering performance, getting the whole audience to bounce along in that heat was no mean feat, I found myself arm round a guy from Finland I’d only just met bouncing away to a song I was hearing for the first time, not something many bands could achieve! As Sirens Fall is a name you may not have heard before, you should have, go listen to them, they may be about to be massive.
The venue is designed so the band wander through the audience to get to the stage, as Lauren and the band went past I noticed the beards, moustaches and chest hair on the girls in the band and the dresses and, very bravely in the heat, the gymp mask on the guys. Clearly a point was being made that they are musicians first and foremost.
I was lucky enough to review Hands Off Gretel’s new album for 3 Songs & Out, calling it my album of the year so far (which is still the case, I’ve yet to hear a better new album this year) so I was really looking forward to this gig.
The gig and whole night was given as extra edge by Lauren’s comments in the press this week about the behaviour of some male members of the audiences they had been playing to. To get that issue out of the way straight off, anyone who doesn’t agree with what she said needs to take a good long hard look at themselves, because they are wrong, Lauren was right to speak out and was right in what she said.
It was still a bit disconcerting, however, when Becky walked past looking like a resurrected Lemmy! The resemble was uncanny, disconcertingly so! The chest hair she’d added was a very nice touch. Lauren had also added a beard and what looked like a goatee to reinforce the gender swapping.
What none of this did was detract from the sheer quality and power of this performance, the audience having been in the venue for hours and with the doors needing to be shut, the temperature had risen all night. How Hands Off Gretel were able to deliver this tour de force of a show without passing out is something I will never understand, especially Sean in his mask!
They don’t have a bad song but they have lots of fantastic songs, they have tremendous stage presence, Lauren is a fantastic singer and writer and the band are an incredibly tight unit. If you haven’t see them live you’ve missed one of the great live experiences in music in this country.
As a friend said to me, if they can find their audience, which will just need the right break, this band will be massive. They deserve to be, I haven’t enjoyed a show so much in a long time.
Hands Off Gretel - https://www.facebook.com/handsoffgretel/
As Sirens Fall - https://www.facebook.com/assirensfall/
Review - Iain McClay
Photos - snapagig.com