It’s been 18 months since bands have been able to tour. Now is the time to shake off those cobwebs, as Barnsley’s finest exponents of 90s influenced grunge punk continue their quest for world domination and take their postponed ‘Angry Tour’ (now dubbed the ‘Still Angry Tour’) on the road.

Yes, an actual tour folks! One that will see the band travel the length and breadth of the country for the next couple of months, remember when bands did that?

This tour will be bookended by a couple of festival dates and a hometown show in December at The Birdwell Venue in Barnsley. Not only will it be the band’s first tour in 18 months, but it will be most fans first gig in 18 months as well.

Joining the band on this first date in York is local lads As Sirens Fall. The last time I saw this emo bunch live they were dressed in drag, tonight they hit the stage as men…ok, so the drummer is wearing a kilt and has more New Wave inspired make up going on than Adam Ant circa 1982, but why the hell not? This is rock n’ roll after all!

I barely know their songs, but they sound and look magnificent. Recent single ‘Dynamite’ is an obvious highlight. Full of anthemic gang vocals and fat riffage, it’s a stadium-sized chunk of modern rock in the vein of My Chemical Romance and 30 Seconds To Mars, which sure ain’t a bad place to be.

Resplendent in black and yellow striped mohair jumper, singer Mikey Lord is all over the stage, knows how to work a crowd and make the girls weak at the knees, while drummer Bailey has all the best Tommy Lee moves off to a tee.

An energetic set, choc-a-bloc with anthemic emo hits to be, the world awaits quite possibly York’s finest current rock band. Is there an album in the works? We wait in hope and look forward to watch them rise.

Lauren Tate has been busy during the pandemic. Not content with just writing a few songs or playing a few online acoustic shows, she only went and created a whole new alter ego named Delilah Bon, released a bunch of singles with pro shot, homemade videos, and released a killer album full of hip-hop/brat punk hits. She will take Delilah on the road next year, but now it’s back to business with her main band Hands Off Gretel.

2 albums and an EP into their career, Hands Off Gretel now have an arsenal of angry anthems to pick from, and based on tonight’s performance you never would have guessed they have been hibernating for 18 months.

Lauren of course has the full package. She looks the part, sounds the part and she prowls the stage like she owns the thing. Don’t be fooled by the pretty green dress and the pink/red hair combo she sports tonight, this grrl can riot with the best of ‘em. But it’s all made possible by the more than competent band she has behind her.

It’s been good to watch their evolution as a live band, and the addition of Becky Baldwin on bass has been the icing on the cake. Along with drummer Sam, she holds the whole thing together, leaving space for livewire guitarist Sean Bon to bash out grungy riffs, while Lauren has the job of keeping the attention of everyone in the room. And she succeeds on that front with ease. Full of confidence, energy and charisma, she delivers her self-penned grunge anthems with the gusto and angst of her heroes.

‘Milk’ channels Hole massively, she croons the opening line before delivering the guttural wail of a banshee, ‘SASS’ and the following ‘I Want The World’ incite the girls down the front to bounce and sing every word back to the poster girl of 2021.

More recent tunes from the ‘Angry EP’ have been live favourites for a while, ‘Don’t Touch’ and the excellent set highlight ‘She Thinks Shes Punk Rock n Roll’ are schizophrenic bursts of proper punk power that prove this artist is more than just a pretty face and truly has something to say that can relate to her fanbase.

Nice to hear the inclusion of ‘Rot’ which Lauren says they have never played live before, and a killer encore of Nirvana’s ‘Territorial Pissings’. Highlight of the night is a dead tie between main set closer ‘Kiss Me Girl’ and the Pink inspired balladry of ‘Freaks Like Us’. Both are anthems in their own way and both go down a storm.

The pandemic may have delayed the taking of the world, but Hands Off Gretel are back and Lauren Tate is still after her crown. And on tonight’s performance and the reaction from the crowd, she just might pull it off.

It’s been a long time coming and suddenly it’s like gigs have never been away. A glorious welcome back to live music in the town where I live. In these uncertain times we take nothing for granted, so I suggest you see this band while you still have the chance, you will not regret it.


Author: Ben Hughes