Hands Off Gretel

With support from Desensitised.
The Bodega Nottingham 20th June 2019.

Well now, fancy meeting you here! Seems like an eternity since I last wrote a review for music224, but I’m glad to be back to be honest! During that time, I’ve seen lots of traffic on social media, dedicated to both bands on tonight’s bill and to say I was excited to finally see what all the fuss is about, is an understatement!

I’d like to say I got to The Bodega Bar, super early, because I couldn’t contain my excitement and this is true in part – the real reason however, is that the traffic was more kind than expected! Still, arriving early is always nice, as you get an opportunity to talk to like minded people and lets face it, there’s a lot to talk about when it comes to the music industry, these days! I even got to check out the merch stand before anyone else and get my grubby little mitts on a copy of “I Want The World” which is Hands Off Gretel’s debut album – I even got it signed, only by Becky though, but next time, Hands off Gretel, next time!

I also managed to have a brief chat with Becky Baldwin about what she’s been up to since I last saw her perform, which was well over a year ago! Having not met the lead singer and guitarist from Hands off Gretel before, when Lauren came over I managed to say hello, at least! As they all went off to get food, I thought I’d stick around to see tonight’s only support act, Desensitised, warm up for their set and to get prepared for the main event.

Desensitised are a three piece band from Nottingham, who appear to be taking the world by storm, one gig at a time! I really wanted to attend their album launch, which took place at Rock City Basement a few months ago but sadly, that wasn’t to be and from what I saw on social media, it looked as though I missed a cracking night! I’m also aware these ladies have graced both Planet Rock and the BBC Introducing air waves of late, which is an impressive accolade to have on the CV, no matter what happens from here on in!

As the Bodega is a relatively small but now well equipped venue, I was somewhat restricted with my movement around the stage as their was no pit, which explains why my perspective appears to be all from one view point, however, the crowd who paid to be here tonight, deserved to be up close and personal to their idols!

My view point was adequate enough to witness the events of Desensitised, unfold and I can think of worse places to be stood than in front of Libby, the bands guitarist! She was very entertaining and geez, can she play that guitar of hers! The satire, between the band was also very entertaining and humoured me greatly. Their music, however, blew me away and I can see why these ladies are destined to be famous, I just hope they’re ready for it!

Catchy lyrics and riffs, which follows a radio friendly 3/4minutes of hard hitting rock hits and I’ll be checking out ‘Sister Psychosis‘, the bands latest album, ASAP! Charlotte also mentioned they’ve got an opportunity to play Nottingham’s Splendour Festival in a few weeks, but to do that they need your help! Just go down to the final heats event and get involved, it’s free to enter and promises to be a great ‘cheap’ night out! DO IT, DESENSITISED NEEDS YOU! AND YOU NEED DESENSITISED!

As stated earlier, I managed to talk to a few people, before the gig started. One such person, was Hands Off Gretel’s band manager, merch man and Lauren’s dad, who was a very pragmatic character, indeed! Although I know I shouldn’t, I asked him what I should expect from his daughters band and who they sounded similar to. Thankfully, he replied with the best answer possible, stating they sound like themselves, a one off, unique! Great answer! They themselves put their sound along side acts, such as Garbage, Gwen Stefani and Saint Agnes, which I totally get. This band certainly sit well in our modern times, what with all the crazy things going on within it! My first impression of the album is Hands of Gretel are trying to make sense of it all, in their own special way! I could be wrong!

Again, my perspective was restricted to the speaker stack stage left, which was right in front of the bands guitarist, Sean, so I got a very good view of his exceptional skills as a guitarist! What I saw, impressed me greatly and the fact that The Bodega had a full crowd on a school night, says it all. According to the remaining dates on their tour poster, venues are selling out fast, so be sure to get your ticket, before it’s too late.

You really need to see this band at an intimate venue before they become mega stars and are playing larger venues – you know the ones, where you can’t get any access to the band, unless you pay for a VIP meet and greet package!

It’s great to be back photographing and reviewing again and even if no one bothers to read this, I certainly enjoyed writing it!

To see more photographs from the night, be sure to check out music224 over on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/music224/albums

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Metal 2 The Masses

The Grand Final
KK’s Steel Mill Wolverhampton 1st June 2019.

Today is set to be one to remember, with six heats and three Semi-finals done and dusted in this years Wolverhampton Metal 2 The Masses, the Grand Final is now upon us. With a slot on the New Blood stage at Bloodstock calling out to our winner, the anticipation was electric and our six finalist were ready to give it their all.

With Rustlung having drawn the first slot of the day, they quickly set about making their thirty minutes count. The atmosphere on stage was all consuming – as was their blend of stoner/groove metal and clearly the band were intent on proving that they had exactly what it takes to be worthy contenders for today’s much sought after prize, to perform at Bloodstock.

The next band to take to the stage were The Black Hounds and as always, hard rock/metal played at its very best was their ultimate goal for today. With audience numbers growing, the band captured and held their attention fast, leaving no one in any doubt that today we would be witnessing Wolverhampton’s Metal 2 The Masses finalists, reach a standard of performance to be proud of.

Our third band of the day were Eyes Of The Raven and anyone whose seen these guys play live before, will know that they live stoner/groove metal large and always pack an honest and heartfelt punch with every song they play. Highlight of their set for me was ‘Crown Of Serpents’ which in my book, is pure and absolute mastery!

With the first three of our six finalist having given their all, the midway point of today’s event was reached and it was time for our first guest band of the day. Ashen Crown are a shining example of West Midlands metal and their rocket fuelled rise within this community has already led them to perform on the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock in 2017. To describe their set today as brutal, ruthless and relentless is an understatement – a first class performance from a first class band.

Atarka were next to perform at today’s event and I can’t help but admire this band for their volcanic intensity, which is further incited by the towering stature of lead singer, Jamie Smith. With the audience rising to meet Atarka’s call to arms, the mosh pit responded and clearly, this was going to be one performance from today, that was favored by many.

Having attended all heats and semi-finals, there is one band who have repeatedly exceeded themselves, and that band is Blood Church. The theatrics of this band knows no boundaries and today, their satanic brimstone, metal and fire was more scorching that ever. This band have to be seen and heard – and truly, they are a mind blowing experience never to be forgotten. Today saw them take both stage presentation and metal to yet another new level with bible tearing, blood and two pigs heads giving rise to some very sharp intakes of breath from me! Epic!!

Elyrean have been a big hit with fans throughout the entirety of Wolverhampton’s Metal 2 The Masses and it has been an absolute pleasure to see them rise to meet high expectations head on. With each and every performance they’ve given, the impeccable standard of musicianship that this band possesses has been a sheer pleasure to witness and today’s Final saw them embrace the moment and completely captivate their audience of many!

Today’s Final has been an incredible event but with our second guest band of the day still to play, it was definitely far from over. Evil Scarecrow are absolute icons within the metal community – and beyond it for that matter and today’s set was certainly larger than life! With their stage props built to satisfy the most bizarre of imaginations, their music to feast on and lots of hilarity on stage and off, today’s Wolverhampton’s Metal 2 The Masses performances ended on a high, in true Scarecrow style.

And with all bands having played and performed like their very souls depended on it, we waited with baited breath for the announcement of the day. I really didn’t envy Simon Hall his job as judge today, as this was definitely going to be a difficult call! But the moment came and the announcement made and Wolverhampton’s winners of a slot playing on Bloodstcks New Blood Stage went to Elyrean and to say they were overjoyed is most definitely an understatement! But the good news didn’t end there as Eyes Of The Raven received the suprise selection of a slot on the Jagermeister Stage AND one band (who weren’t named) picked as a reserve should an available slot arise – now that is a result!!

On a personal note, it has been an absolute pleasure to have been part of this great event and my heartfelt gratitude goes out to Matt Edwards for keeping those big wheels turning, the sound guys for their brilliant skills on the sound desk, all photographers and reviewers, KK’s Steel Mill for their hard work and never ending commitment to this great event, Simon Hall and of course, everyone who has supported the bands and this event along the way. And there we have it folks – my feet ache but the heart is very happy, Wolverhampton Metal 2 The Masses 2020 can’t come soon enough!!

Review and Photography by Sue Wardle.