As soon as Dublin-based outfit Scathed hit the stage in Voodoo and began playing their first notes, people instantaneously began nodding their heads and swaying along. No surprise at all considering the show’s later-than-expected start served to build anticipation amongst the already packed-out crowd. The band’s hard-hitting blend of heavy riffs, pounding drums, and diverse vocals were a Valentine’s treat for those in attendance, many of whom were there for the headline act and were perhaps unfamiliar with the band. Unsurprising, considering Scathed are relative newcomers. Having not even released a debut album, the band have been building a reputation on the strength of 2018’s debut single ‘Petrify’ as well as last year’s four-track E.P. Where Truth Occurs, not to mention a solid slate of Irish shows, including a coveted slot supporting Grammy winners Halestorm during their sold-out Academy show in Dublin. Frontwoman Ainsley Kavanagh’s hot-and-cold vocals at turns soared above and pierced through the rumbling rhythm section and dual guitar riffs, swapping between melodic sing-along choruses and angsty angry terse screams effortlessly. Considering the beaming grin that barely left her face between songs, it was clear that she was enjoying herself, which had the fortunate effect of infecting the crowd, and by the time they played stand-out track ‘New Hollow’, with its luscious guitar solo, it was clear they’d won over most of the room. They owned the stage and played so well that they definitely made a lot of new fans, many of whom are surely hoping Scathed return to Belfast soon to headline their own show.
Hands Off Gretel took to the stage to deliver a powerhouse performance, playing almost twenty songs total. The set largely consisted of songs from the latest album I Want the World but it also incorporated songs from previous releases, such as crowd favorite ‘Be Mine’, ensuring fans who have been following them since their inception weren’t left disappointed. In fact, disappointment wasn’t even on the menu, with the band instead serving up slabs of energetic, high-octane music with a side of superbly entertaining and engaging between-song banter that the crowd lapped up with glee. Frontwoman and founder Lauren Tate is a complete natural, giving the impression that she feels more at home on stage playing and singing and getting lost in the feel-good vibe than she does anywhere else on earth. Having found her voice through her music, she is dedicated to helping others find theirs, singing unrepentantly staunch in-your-face feminist anthems, and even lends her voice to those who don’t have their own; animals which suffer at the hands of humans, in militant animal rights track ‘Milk’, for which she also directed the graphic and evocative music video. The song at times conjured the ghost of Nirvana’s ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ which ensured it was one of the highlights of the night, garnering a particularly loud roar of approval on its introduction. Songs about finding yourself, plowing on in the wake of dead friendships and relationships, body image, and personal empowerment were subversively fitting for Valentine’s Day, and the relatability of the subject matter ensured the crowd’s participation. Indeed, the interplay between members of the audience and the band both during and between songs gave the impression that the crowd, collectively, were the fifth band member, especially during sing-along belter ‘It’s My Fault’ that is reminiscent of P!NK in her prime. Combining elements of grunge and punk, Hands Off Gretel fit alongside influential bands such as Hole and The Distillers, and are a great reminder that “Female-fronted” isn’t a genre of music. Wearing their influences on their sleeves, they ended the night with a stupefyingly good encore that included a supreme cover of The Stooges’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’, that was a showcase for the band’s musicianship, with endlessly talented bassist Becky Baldwin having complete control over the dynamics of the song, like a dog on a leash, with their cover being more restrained than the original until the inevitable bursts of sonic fury engulfed the room.
After a thoroughly enjoyable night, hopefully, fans don’t have to wait too long before either Hands Off Gretel or Scathed are back in town, and if you missed the show definitely keep an eye out for both in the coming months as they’re set to make bigger and bigger splashes.
Review: Mark Russell
Photography: Wayne Donaldson
To coincide with their recently announced headline tour for Spring 2020, Barnsley’s ferocious four-piece HANDS OFF GRETEL have revealed details of THE ANGRY EP set for release on their own Puke Pop Records on 6 MARCH 2020.
The three tracks – SHE THINKS SHE’S PUNK ROCK N ROLL, DON’T TOUCH and BIGGER THAN ME – are all live favourites that fans have repeatedly asked the band to release, and were recorded with Jim Pinder at Tree House Studio in Chesterfield.
The EP will be available on CD and limited edition 10” white vinyl – alongside all major download and streaming platforms – and can be pre-ordered now from: www.handsoffgretel.co.uk
Talking about the EP, singer Lauren Tate, who also designed the artwork, said: “It was great to get into the studio and record some tracks that didn’t make it onto the album. The Angry EP captures the energy and aggression of our live shows, which is something we totally wanted to do after releasing our latest album, which has a more polished sound. The EP is honest and raw, just how punk rock tracks should be, and we know these are favourites with our fans so it’s great to finally release them”.
The release coincides with the band’s huge headline DON’T TOUCH tour of the UK and Ireland in early 2020. Full dates as follows:
Thu 27 LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Thu 12 LONDON Camden Assembly
Fri 13 BRIGHTON Green Door Store
Sat 14 BRISTOL Thekla
Thu 26 NOTTINGHAM Rough Trade
Fri 27 MANCHESTER Deaf Institute
Sat 28 SHEFFIELD Leadmill 2
Wed 08 BRIDGWATER Cobblestones
Thu 09 EXETER Phoenix
Fri 10 SOUTHAMPTON The 1865
Sat 11 BEDFORD Esquires
Wed 22 ABERDEEN Krakatoa
Thu 23 GLASGOW Nice N Sleazy
Fri 24 EDINBURGH Bannermans
Sat 25 LINCOLN Showground [with Skindred]
Wed 06 CAMBRIDGE Portland Arms
Thu 07 BIRMINGHAM Academy 3
Fri 08 CARDIFF Clwb Ifor Bach
Sat 09 BUCKLEY Tivoli
Wed 20 OXFORD Bullingdon
Thu 21 YORK Crescent
Fri 22 BLACKPOOL Waterloo
Sat 23 NEWCASTLE Cluny 2
Tickets available from: www.handsoffgretel.co.uk
I WANT THE WORLD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o71wASUMdWI
KISS ME GIRL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kU545r4RdGQ