Live Review: Hands Off Gretel at The Bullingdon, Oxford

We first laid ears on Hands off Gretel in early 2019 when they played at The Jericho Tavern (supporting the awesome Allusinlove) and have been fans ever since. Their name reminds us of the band Jack off Jill, who they have clearly listened to and, like us, enjoyed in the past. The band have honed their sound since the last time we caught them, enhanced tonight by the Bully’s very own Martin Newton.

Tonight they deliver a blistering set opening with an almighty Babes in Toyland-esque screech in their intro to older song ‘In the eyes.’ They swiftly follow this with [single/song] ‘Milk,’ the video to which we’ve enjoyed watching, and which should do the trick getting people to think more deeply about how we treat animals.

Hands off Gretel give an unbeatable performance, notably with singer Lauren Tate owning the stage and, to our pleasure, sharing it with us.  They are tongue in cheek with both attitude and lyrics and, while the bulk of their catalogue falls firmly in the ‘grunge’ genre, with shimmers of Marilyn Manson influence glistening through, they have branched out with some of their material, including the bouncier/funkier swagger of ‘SASS.’ Tonight, the band blast through almost 20 songs, covering topics such as the singer’s dead cat (in the song ‘Alien’) and never growing up (in ‘My Size.’) Their lyrics cover female issues including in brand new song ‘War’ and in ‘She Thinks She’s Punk Rock N Roll’ – a song they announce is to inspire girls to change music. Tonight’s majority female line up (including support acts Yur Mum and Salvation Jane) does exactly that, and for the better.

Their guitarist takes much pleasure in crowd participation activities, egging the audience on to go ahead and pogo, followed by a thunderous cover of Nirvana’s ‘Territorial Pissings’.

Hands off Gretel most certainly entertain us and we look forward to catching them the next time they’re in town – perhaps next time playing the O2?  In the meantime you can catch them on their remaining tour dates in October, details of which are on their official website.

Review by Caroline Low

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