Hands Off Gretel magic up a fairytale set

Posted On 09 Apr 2019 at 2:34 pm

Lauren Tate from Hands Off Gretel live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

HANDS OFF GRETEL + MY-HI + PREACHER + RAGWEED – HOPE & RUIN, BRIGHTON 06.04.19

Tonight Brighton seemed to be a little quieter than normal, one would hazard a guess that 34,000 of the locals had gone missing Wembley way in order to support their heroes. So that left the rest of us revellers to have the centre of town to ourselves. My colleague and myself decided that we had ‘This Feeling’ drawing us to Queens Road, to the Hope & Ruin to be precise, as there were four up-and-coming indie rock guitar bands plying their wares, with the headline act being the charismatic Hands Off Gretel.

Hands Off Gretel live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pics Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

On arrival, true to form just like the rest of the city, The Hope was buoyant but not overflowing and indeed the music room upstairs was busy but not full. This was to our liking as we grabbed a nice position at the front to the left of the stage in order to obtain a birds eye view of the acts. We had come in all honesty to witness the set from Hands Off Gretel, prior to their return appearance at the Prince Albert on Saturday 6th July, when they will be accompanied by As Sirens Fall as well as SONS – tickets HERE.

Becky Baldwin from Hands Off Gretel live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

Hands Off Gretel were formed in South Yorkshire in 2015, when front woman Lauren Tate stuck two-fingers up to the repressive school environment that trapped her and dropped out, the 16-year-old self-confessed misfit wasted no time in finding an outlet to channel every bit of the alienation and despair experienced within those concrete walls into something cathartic and creative. And Hands Off Gretel was born.

Sean McAvinue from Hands Off Gretel live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

Inspired by the volatile and liberating melody fuelled noise of bands such as Hole, The Distillers, Nirvana and PJ Harvey, Hands Off Gretel quickly set about creating the perfect soundtrack of sugar-coated grunge-punk for Lauren to vent and rail against the issues of body image, mental health, celebrity, childhood and loneliness she felt enraged by, all of which were addressed from a fiercely female, unapologetic, feminist perspective.

Sam Hobbins from Hands Off Gretel live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

The ball has certainly started rolling for the outfit as they have completed 4 headline UK tours and played major festivals including Download, Isle of Wight, Rebellion main stage, Camden Rocks Festival, Great British Alternative Festival and headlined Loud Women Festival in London. They have also toured on the continent and visited Germany and the Netherlands.

Hands Off Gretel live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

The word is certainly out on this striking quartet as two-tone haired Lauren proudly informed us that their new album ‘I Want The World’ which came out on 29th March has been awarded four stars by Kerrang. The new platter which is available in striking bubblegum pink vinyl was thankfully awarded funding from the PRS Foundation (for emerging artists) and was recorded at Monnow Valley studio in Wales. The band released it on their own label Puke Pop Records. It proudly boasts a dozen highly addictive melodic rock tracks, which are sometimes vindictive, but certainly are unafraid to blend the heavy screeching distortion of grunge rock with the catchy hooks of bubblegum pop, whilst keeping true to their original roots in punk rock.

Hands Off Gretel live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

Despite being a naughty girl at school as Lauren admitted tonight, she hasn’t wasted her talents, as not only has lead vocalist Lauren penned all of the bands lyrics and plays guitar, but she had also designed all of the bands brightly coloured merch. Lauren is accompanied in the band by Sean McAvinue (guitar), Becky Baldwin (bass) and Sam Hobbins (drums).

Hands Off Gretel live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

The Hope & Ruin punters were treated to a short but lively performance from the gang, who honestly all looked stunning and no doubt a PR man’s dream. Something along the lines of an update of Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Bass player Becky was certainly going for the Gaye Advert (from 1970’s punk band The Adverts) meets the Sex P*ssed Dolls look, which was very appealing. Guitarist Sean just looks cool, you know the type of guy that you will find in a Scandinavian EBM metal band and Sam just holds it all together with his great drumming.

Becky Baldwin from Hands Off Gretel live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

From the off, Lauren looked like she meant business as her pink boots were discarded and the seduction began with naughty knicker flashing as they launched into opener, which was their I Want The World’, single, which funnily enough was my favourite track of the night. A couple of other singles were given an airing too, namely S.A.S.S and the punky tune Kiss Me Girl.

Hands Off Gretel live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

There were a couple of ballads during the short nine song set, but the others were rather in your face, so much so that at the end of the final number Sean decided that his forehead needed to have a conversation with Sam’s largest symbol. He quickly regretted it as he crouched in discomfort on the stage – ha rock ‘n’ roll eh guys!

Hands Off Gretel live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

Hands Off Gretel setlist reads:
‘I Want The World’, ‘Blame Myself’, ‘Big Boy’, ‘S.A.S.S’, ‘It’s My Fault’, ‘Freaks Like Us’, ‘Milk’, ‘Kiss Me Girl’, ‘My Size’

For more information and merch, click HERE.

Also on the bill this evening were MY-HI, Preacher and Ragweed.

MY-HI live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

Brighton quartet MY-HI certainly set the bar very high indeed as their intro music was ‘Requiem’ by Killing Joke. I bought this 7” single when it came out in September 1980, having discovered the band on their previous single ‘Wardance’ which announced itself around six months earlier. I was standing next door to the MY-HI guitarist Sam Caschere, when the first notes of ‘Requiem’ filled the room. I got very excited as did Sam as he was impressed that I knew the track. He was less impressed when I quickly informed him that Killing Joke are coming to Brighton to play the Concorde 2 on Monday 12th August and that it would no doubt sell out extremely quickly. He was unaware of them playing down here. So just in case Sam, here you go – tickets available HERE but obviously not for long!

MY-HI live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

The MY-HI alternative rock set lasted around 35 minutes tonight and they get the award for most boisterous song of the night, which was their first single ‘Shiver’ from a couple of years ago. All of a sudden the crowd erupted, split their beers and kept slipping and falling on the spillages. This gave us some amusement.

MY-HI live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

I picked up straight away from the very first number that Sam’s guitar sure did sound like early days U2, which is not a bad thing as that’s when they were exciting. I thought that new boy Jack’s drumming was rather tight and the harmonious vocals were powerful too. My fave track of theirs on the night was called ‘Digital’.

MY-HI live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

This is a local band that are more than capable of writing good compositions and should be enjoyed live at least once!

For more information click HERE.

Preacher live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

Preacher are a grunge rock trio coming out of Guildford but now based here in Brighton. The personnel are Ollie Thrower (vocals/guitar), Sam Wilson (bass) and Stan Webb (drums). When observing the band tonight during their 25 to 30 minute set, I expected to find out that Ollie and Sam are related as they have certainly gone for the same look.

Preacher live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

I have to say that Ollie’s guitar playing is absolute top drawer and his vocals aren’t too bad either. They have put out two singles, the debut being ‘Forty’ and the follow up came out 1st January this year and is called ‘Focus’. They reminded me in parts of Canadian rockers Nickelback, but they have their own slant.

Preacher live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

An adopted band worth checking out when they next perform in Brighton.

For more information click HERE.

Ragweed live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

The opening act on the night was Ragweed which is a name that keeps cropping up on the local gigs scene, but we honestly don’t know for how much longer as it was intimated that tonight’s gig could be their very last or possibly they were just joshing with us?

Ragweed live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

Their 25 to 30 minute set was an onslaught of powerful tunes something akin to Nirvana but with even more shouty vocals. You can just tell that this trio are in a band by the way they carry themselves and the way they look. They are the perfect choice of ‘This Feeling’ style act, along with SONS. So if you like your music raw and loud, then you might find yourself checking out their current single ‘Bianca, Please’ or even better treat yourself to their 5-track ‘Breathing Holes’ EP.

Ragweed live at the Hope & Ruin, Brighton 06.04.19 (pic Cris Watkins / PunkInFocus)

For more information click HERE.

If rowdy indie guitar rock is your thing, then you definitely need to check out ‘This Feeling’ – click HERE.

‘This Feeling’ gig flyer

Hands Off Gretel tour flyer

Hands Off Gretel setlist

Visit and ‘LIKE’ our ‘What’s On – from Brighton and Hove News’ Facebook page HERE.

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