Thursday, April 18, 2024

Hands Off Gretel are the well-oiled alt-rock machine you never knew you needed

Venue: The Globe, Newcastle

If you read a lot about newer bands, or bands ‘on the rise’, it might mention something to do with this fictional ‘new wave of classic rock’. Something I don’t really subscribe to. When did the ‘classic’ style of rock go away? Also, how can something be ‘new’ and ‘classic’ at the same time? It’s like saying the ‘wet wave of dry puddles’.And if Greta Van Fleet and The Struts are ‘the future of music’ – I’m out of here. The reason why the ‘old’ style of rock fizzled out was that the record-buying public grew bored of the same-old, same-old.

Enter punk rock, which got stream rolled by metal, and then over-taken by alternative rock.  Now there’s something that needs to really come back. With modern life being pretty beige, we need a bit of green, purple, and orange in our lives. There’s plenty of examples of bands that are doing their own thing these days, one being Hands Off Gretel.  Yorkshire-based four-piece who make the music they love on their grounds. Tonight we see HOG slap-bang in the middle of their biggest tour to date, in a pub considered ‘punk’ by some local fans. What’s most notable is the age range from teenagers to those in their later years, all huddled towards the front to see four ‘youngsters’ in their crazy clothes. This gives the gig a kind of ‘underground’ feel. Sean McAvinue’s guitar hits us like a ton of bricks out of nowhere and the magic starts. This is a perfect melting pot of all the best bands from the 90s with a 2018 twist.

Lauren Tate’s vocal can be compared to both Gwen Stefani and Courtney Love – at the same time. The difference between HOG and other modern bands who try to adopt the ‘grunge’ sound is that these guys and girls have brains. This shows when Lauren explains the meaning behind tracks like ‘Oh Shit‘ and ‘Bigger Than You‘ telling stories, something that sometimes gets lost in today’s music. The strains of a smaller venue show when a four-man mosh pit breaks out and has to be stopped by Lauren herself.  Maybe HOG would be suited to a slightly bigger venue (Think Tank?)

An image isn’t everything but this lot certainly look the part too. I wish I could dress like this every day. Blue hair, baggy jumpers, tartan pants, Lauren’s Alice In Wonderland dress – perfect to set the scene for ‘Shes Not Punk Rock’ a track about how some people say you shouldn’t be in a certain scene because of the way you dress. A great way to summarise the spirit of HOG. Everyone is welcome! As mentioned earlier there is a good mix of ages at this gig, all dressed how they want to.

The gig wraps up with a cover of The Stooges ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ sandwiched by the band’s latest singles ‘Kiss Me Girl‘ and ‘SASS‘. Showing a more ‘pop’ or ‘radio rock’ side of HOG. This also brings bassist Becky Baldwin to the mic as a second vocalist. Sean and Sam do their bit too. Both of these singles get the crowd going though, which is how a gig should end. I was kind of enjoying the grungey, 90s alt style swaying, to be honest. Hopefully, the next album reflects the spirit of the new material we have heard and will catapult Lauren and co. into the big time. In all, this has been a great showcase of what Hands Off Gretel can do and what’s on the horizon for the Yorkshire lads n lasses. A different venue would have improved this set quite a bit but it was still hugely enjoyable.  If HOG is playing a local venue to you I’d 100% recommend you check them out, no matter what kind of rock n roll you are in to, you might get something out of this.

Neale McGeever
Neale McGeever
RAMzine Senior Contributor - I'm an entertainment writer ('journalist') from the North East. My favourite bands include Slipknot, Nirvana and Ninja Sex Party... I've freelanced for the likes of Kerrang!,Closer, Front, ZOO, and many others! I'm also big in to movies, video games, live comedy and!

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