Live Review: Hands Off Gretel – Voodoo, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 14th February 2020

  • Peter Hough posted
  • Reviews

Hands Off Gretel / Scathed

Voodoo, Belfast, Northern Ireland - 14th February 2020

It’s a tough call, opening for a band with as much buzz as Hands Off Gretel, but Dublin’s Scathed don’t let that phase them at all.  The five-piece metallers launch into a relatively short set of epic, grinding hard rock. Not many songs, but their musical dexterity and massive, coiling arrangements make this a compelling performance. You can’t help feel that the relatively small stage is hampering their exuberance, but there’s huge energy on that stage and in the room. Dark, soulful metal with moments of great beauty. Two observations, however: a complex set up like this needs careful attention to the mix; and for a band with such depth and passion, maybe the ‘business students in a band’ look didn’t do them many favours. Plenty of content, maybe a bit more attention to form would make this a more complete package. Great nonetheless.

When Hands Of Gretel amble about the Voodoo stage ahead of tonight’s performance, there is no hint of the extraordinary event about to take place. Quite the opposite. They’re kind of regular people. That’s the beauty of seeing this band in a more intimate setting. You can feel that you’re getting to know them. They can boss the big stages like Rebellion‘s Empress Ballroom without any problem at all, but having to do this practically face to face with an enthused audience takes balls. With industrial levels of charisma, that was never going to be an issue for this band. But this is clearly already something special. From the opening riff of ‘Queen Universe‘, it’s clear we’re witnessing an event where band and audience, in close proximity, can enjoy an intense shared experience.

This is the third gig of the ‘Don’t Touch‘ tour and the band’s first visit to Ireland. Energy levels are almost off the chart, from the opening moment. The 90-minute set delivers tracks from the forthcoming “Angry EP” and last year’s “I Want The World” full-length and showcases the band at their exuberant very best. While Lauren Tate‘s songwriting is often uncompromising and brutally plain-spoken, there’s a joy to this performance that sees her and the band in high spirits. It’s not lost on an equally enthusiastic Voodoo crowd.

Hands Off Gretel roar and thunder through their set, even through the lighter moments such as the sublime almost-pop of ‘It’s My Fault‘. The amount of mouths singing along prove that the band have made their mark here already, despite this being their first jaunt over the Irish Sea. And amidst the grunge and bluster, Lauren can present a vulnerable figure, almost coy about sharing her innermost thoughts. This is high octane stuff though. Even the introspective moments are electric. Above all however, this is a spectacle – a band of four on mesmerising top form in every department and clearly enjoying every moment. Energy and love are given and received in equal measure. Almost perfect, and over too soon. 

The Angry EP” is now available for pre-order on all formats from Hands Off Gretel here