Hands Off Gretel, Skating Polly, Crisis Garden, Yardbirds, Grimsby 30-7-17


With Grimsby being only just over an hour away, i was frustrated that i couldn’t get there due to not being able to drive anymore. Fortunately, a good friend i’ve known for years, offered to drive there. Thanks Andy G ! I’d prearranged with Scott to have 2 tickets held on the door & it worked out fine. As ever, cheers Scott πŸ™‚
We got there around the time that doors opened. It was obviously kinda quiet inside. One advantage of that was we could get a couple of decent seats for a while.
First band on were “Crisis Garden”. Never heard of them before tonight. Didn’t take me long for a “Yay or Nay”. Being brutally honest, there was nothing that stood out from them that peaked my interest. But good on them for getting up there & giving it a go.Β 

Next up, as far as we were concerned, it was the headliners ; Hands Off Gretel πŸ™‚ By now the place had got a bit busier & i’m sure there were a couple of faces in the crowd that i recognised from previous HOG gigs. I saw an old guy with what looked like a monopod & at the top he had some kind of recording device πŸ˜‰
The kicked off with ” World Against She”, closely followed by “Bad Egg”. Tonight they had a stand in bassist since Joe recently quit HOG.* EDIT *: Bassists name is Becky Baldwin. I gotta say she pretty much nailed it tonight. Seems she’s a Professional bassist who has played in various bands. She teaches. (Later Helen told me there’s another temp bassist doing other gigs). Oh a funny moment was when the bassist was really rockin out, in the moment & accidentally whacked her microphone with the bass guitar. Dunno how many saw it, but she was cracking up afterwards πŸ˜‰ Β Before the next song, “Be Mine”, Lauren had to tune up & she told Sean to talk to the crowd…for one second…well, see it here, he’s a funny fooker πŸ™‚

Next up they do “One Eyed Girl”. I already consider this to be a classic in their set πŸ˜‰ The crowd seem to be enjoying everything. The rest of the set flew by.

Β They finished with “My Size”

After HOGs set, the place seemed to almost seem empty. But i think a lot of peeps had gone out for beer/fag breaks. Before Skating Polly took to the stage, it did get busy-ish again. This was the first time i’d seen/heard them. All credit to them for making the journey over from the States. I also think they work well on some bill as HOG. Personally, i need to hear more studio recordings before i decide if i like em or not. We didn’t stay till the end of their set as i was getting a bit tired & both myself & Andy thought we’d seen enough to get a good idea of what they were about. As previously said, we really went there just to see HOG…& anything else was a bonus πŸ˜‰

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Camden Rocks Festival, Virginmarys, Royal Republic, Hands Off Gretel, 3-6-17


As always, we got to Camden early. Once we’d got the tix exchanged for wristbands, we hung in Worlds End pub for a while. Whilst there, various friends turned up. Quite a shock to see Benoit as he pretty much never visits the UK ! I’m guessing it had something to do with meeting Kitti πŸ˜‰ The ever present Jim also joined us as did lovely Eva. The rest of the “VMs family” were in the other part of the bar, but we gradually said our hellos. Couldn’t help goofing around a little πŸ˜‰

There were a few bands i was looking forward to,but, generally i think the lineup for the day wasn’t that great. Obviously VMs headlining, Ally solo, Royal Republic, Hands Off Gretel were my priorities…anything else would be a bonus. Whilst sat in Worlds End, watching everyone go by, someone noticed a lass outside wearing bright purple/pink glitzy trousers. Soon realised it was Lauren from H.O.G. Great idea for the band to hang around there giving out flyers & posing for photos & drumming up more people for their set (Not that the extra bodies were really needed. I mean, they’re kicking up a storm & have already got a great following….but i suppose it was a good idea with a personal touch to turn peeps onto H.O.G. ). As the window was open, i had a quick chat with Helen (Laurens mum) as hadn’t see her for awhile.

Can’t quite remember what we did after the Worlds End pub ! But the first band i saw was Hands Off Gretel in the Underworld (probably saw last minutes of the act before them). The place was rammed, as expected it would be. It was interesting to see the varied age of the audience. H.O.G. obviously appeal to all ages, so that has to be a good thing. Lauren thanked the crowd for choosing their gig instead of any of the others. As ever, they played a great gig. At the end, the crowd really wanted more & kept shouting “one more song,one more song”! Unfortunately, due to time restraints, it wasn’t possible. Managed a couple of videos.

Next we went to the Crowndale to catch a bit of The Kut. Rob spotted a great place in a mini balcony, which was perfect to see it all. I’d not previously heard anything by them before, but i enjoyed what i saw.Β 

We then made our way to Koko to see the amazing Royal Republic. We caught the tail end of “Moses” set. (Didn’t really do anything for me lol)
Soon enough, it was time for the Royals. As ever, they were full of bombast & were bloody great ! They’re such a FUN band to watch !

As ever, they finish with “Full Steam Spacemachine”

We started making our way back to the market. Wandered around looking for food. To start off, i wanted some, but then i got a whiff of something & it totally put me off !Β Rob had some though.
Went to the Kraken stage which was billed as an “amphitheatre” to see Ally acoustic. All the VMs peeps were already there. It was quite nice sitting on the (false) grass steps. The only downside was that the sun was shining, behind Ally, towards us all. Must confess, when Ally spotted a sound problem & the local(?) guy didn’t agree with his opinion, it brought a smile to my face. (I think it was sorted by replacing a cable or something?). As always, Allys performance was pure & from his soul. I’m sure everyone enjoyed his show.Β Β Β ( I pinched Erics photo)

Me? Take sneeky photos? πŸ˜‰Β 

Dunno where the time went today, but soon enough we headed to the Underworld in preparation for the maid band of the day, Virginmarys. But before them, we ended up watching quite a bit of ” Ruts DC”. They were a laugh. (In a good way). Was obvious there were some diehard fans in the crowd. Was surprised i knew a few of their songs (mighta been covers?)
So, to the main reason for coming down to Camden Rocks : The Virginmarys !
The place was soon heaving. We had a nice view from above to the left. They kick off with a ferocious version of “Portrait Of Red”. It’s really cool to see the crowd dancing away down there. Smiles all around πŸ™‚ Without taking a breath, they then play “Taking The Blame/ Halo in Her Silhouette”.

Next it’s one of my faves off the album “Divides”, namely “I Wanna Take You Home”. I always think of someone when they play this song πŸ˜‰ We’re only 5 or 6 songs into the set & i notice it’s already getting quite rough in the pits. As much as i wish i could be down there, it’s times like this i appreciate NOT being down there !
The (relatively) new song “Sweet Loretta” comes over great. The VMs family already know this so they’re singing along with passion.

Then we get the old classics “Free to Do Whatever They Say” & “Running for My Life”. It’s getting noticeably more heated in the pits & i can see there’s 2 or 3 idiots who just seem to be there to push people around. During the super new song “Sitting Ducks” it’s very cool to see Ross stomping around the stage but conversely, i notice the audience is now getting quite violent.
Hell, i even switch off my camera as i’m concerned some of my friends are taking a battering down there.

Next we get “Off To Another Land” & “Into Dust”. I find myself looking more at the audience than the band. I’ve never seen a VMs show where a small minority in the crowd seem to spoil it for the majority. I very much doubt those dickheads even knew a single VMs song. They’d probably rolled in from the bars & just wanted to thrash about. Some people seem to have no respect for others who are there to have a good time. During “For You My Love” it really kicked off in there. I could see at least one of my friends was visibly distressed about what was happening. I ended up filming the guy who was seemingly confronting her…

Got to say, this was the least enjoyable VMs show i’ve witnessed. Not down to the band, but due to some dickheads in the crowd.
“Walk In My Shoes” & “Motherless Land” seemed to go by without the previous altercations in the crowd. The last song, “Just A Ride” flew by. A bunch of us hung around for a while afterwards. Someone took this great photo of us with AllyΒ 

Eventually we all spilled out onto the road & started walking in the direction of Koko. My mate Rob had gone there to see Feeder, so we arranged to meet at the pub opposite. I think Feeder ran over time a little, but whatever, i’d had enough for the night. So once Rob was out, we were on our way back to Stratford. I got a txt from a mate in Boston saying there had been some sort of incident & he was asking if we were ok. (Thanks Andy G. ) On the tube back, we stopped for a few minutes at Mile End. The opposite line was also held. We were beginning to think the tube had been shut down. Eventually, we were on our way, but still wondering exactly what the incident was.

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Hands Off Gretel , Desensitised, Dont Look Down, Black Swan, Spalding 24-6-16

A free event, so no tickets.Β DSC07497

This was another case of frustration about not being able to get to a gig as i’m not allowed to drive ! Arrrrggg! Well, luckily enough, my wonderful niece offered to drive me there. Thank you Alice πŸ™‚ We got there early & went to Subway for food. Once parked up in town, we made our way to the ” Black Swan “. Having not been in Spalding for many years, a few old memories came flooding back to me : In the ’80s, a few of us would go there to see a local band, “Camargue” at The Pied Calf pub. Another thing, there used to be a hifi shop, “Welec Hifi” close by. I was quite surprised to still see the shop with all the signage there….then i noticed it was empty. The real significance of Welec to me was back in 1985 i bought a “Sony Professional” portable tape recorder to record concerts with. At the time, it was probably the best small-ish portable recorder with manual recording levels etc (Measured about 7 x 4 inches ). It cost a LOT of money, around Β£250 (at the time, i was probably being paid about Β£35 per week at work). I remember when i’d tracked it down to Spalding & went to collect it, the manager said ” We thought they’d sent it to us by mistake . We’d never seen anything like this before “. Well from 1985 till about 1990 that deck served me very well capturing maybe 150+ concerts πŸ˜‰Β sony pro

I digress…. HOG were still sound checking when we got in the pub, so we got drinks & had a couple of games of pool. Yes, we were both rubbish at it lol. Eventually it was time for the first band of the night, ” Desensitised”. 3 young ladies who come from Nottingham. They played a lot of own material, so respect to them for that. As an opening band, they were ok. Afterwards i went for a pee & the geezer next to me said “It’s a bit cold out there now…” Kinda strange to talk with others at the urinals lol. He was in the band HOG, maybe they’re a bit more open about that stuff if from Yorkshire way ? ( Hello Joe) lol
Next it was ” Don’t Look Down”, a band from Stamford. These guys seem pretty tight & i’m sure they must have played together for quite a few years. They were a different sort of sound to the first band, which was refreshing. They thanked the crowd for turning out & supporting live music. Something everyone should do nowadays as there are less & less smaller venues to see bands at. Again, a decent set & another good warm up.
I had a nice chat with Helen Tate (Laurens mum) & bought the CD ep. I’m now awaiting for the release of the full album πŸ˜‰ I must confess, i was surprised when she told me that if they did a “Pledge” campaign, they would have wanted 15% . So not surprised they’ve decided to do it on their own πŸ™‚
Finally, it’s headliners Hands Off Gretel. By now, the venue has filled up nicely. I’m pleased we got our spot down the front early πŸ˜‰ This was my first time seeing them live, so everything was new to me. From what i’ve seen online, Lauren has been around for a few years & has done solo stuff as well as having various bands such as the Bankrupt Brothers along the way. It seems she has now reached the point she was searching for with the latest incarnation that is the wonderful ” Hands Off Gretel “. Their sound reminds me very much of an amalgamation of “L7″ , ” Courtney Love ” & ” Nirvana “. A very ’90s grunge feel to it. Do yourself a favour & check out the old covers on Youtube of songs such as ” Zombie ” (The Pretty Reckless) , ” What’s Up?”( 4 Non Blondes) & ” Whole Lotta Love ” ( Led Zep-accoustic version). Some of these songs Lauren was only 13 or 14 years old !. They show the quality of her vocals & she reminds me of Lzzy Hale (Halestorm) in the way i think she can sing anything & it sounds great. But back to now. The in your face grunge that is HOG.Β  DSC07492

( Gary & Helen taking photos before everyone moved forward πŸ˜‰ )

They all seem to have a lot of fun onstage & that’s always a great sign. I love the fact that they seem to be doing things on their own terms as well. For myself, Lauren comes over as a bit of a Jekkyl & Hyde kind of person. Whilst she may look all “girly & innocent”, once she opens her mouth & sings with such raw passion, you’d better believe she’s not to be messed with. The guys all seem very solid. They all have their own entertaining quirks πŸ˜‰ The short set got a great reaction from the packed out crowd. It was a great set & i look forward to seeing them again πŸ™‚Β DSC07517

DSC07531Β DSC07532

EDIT : I’ve been very slow getting my last reviews up. During that time, i noticed that Shirley Manson has also discovered HOG. She was bigging them up on Twitter (Or was it FB ?). Wouldn’t it be great if Shirley/Garbage offered the opening slot on some gigs to HOG? I know that nowadays bands have to “buy onto ” these types of tour, but, it really would be cool if Shirley was to offer the slot for free & give HOG a leg up. C’mon Shirl ! πŸ˜‰



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