Review + Photos by Frank Ralph

It’s International Women’s Day and we’ve congregated at Alphabet Brewing Company on the outskirts of Manchester for a celebration of music with a predominantly female line-up.

Hands off Gretel -83

The venue was a cool warehouse under the arches of a railway bridge and was a great quirky place to enjoy a show – even though it was chuffin’ freezing inside. It’s one of those small craft breweries with cool graffiti adorning the walls and plenty of room to move around in, a perfect spot for a night like this.

Openers Queen Cult from Macclesfield are great and Maisie Johnson’s self-effacing between song patter is funny as hell, even if unintentionally sometimes. Their Kills/Black Keys combo sounds fresh and tracks like Shindigger pack a punch.

Queen Cult 9

Queen Cult

The night wasn’t just about music though and before the next band began we were treated to some great poetry from Emily Oldfield. She had an impactful way with words and her view of the world was really great to hear. The story of a heart attack victim brought a hushed silence to the room and was very emotional.

Emily Oldfield

Emily Oldfield 13

Dollie Demi were an eye opening experience and they got the crowd going fantastically. Full of energy and sass they even got a mosh pit going at one point and the bassist finished the show playing from the middle of the crowd. Great fun.

Dollie Demi -22

Dollie Demi -26

Kiziah and the Kings from Doncaster were a revelation. A great mix of reggae, funk and soulful vibes and in Kiziah a voice powerful enough to put goosebumps on your goosebumps. The addition of a saxophone really adds to the vibe and they get every one grooving along. They’re a band I’ll definitely be checking out again in the future.

Kiziah and the Kings -48

Kiziah and the Kings -42

The Political Poet did a short 10-minute spoken word set before Manchester’s Cold Water Swimmers took to the stage. With the only male vocalist of the night they stood out for it. Raw garage punk spirit and bravado filled the stage, even with them being a 3-piece. Think Stooges and Pixies getting it on and you won’t be too far off. They were brilliant and performed a set that built to a massive crescendo worthy of a headline set.

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Cold Water Swimmers -57

The night’s headliners though were grunge legends in waiting Hands Off Gretel from Barnsley. They are possibly the hardest working band in the business at the moment and with their new album I Want The World due imminently they are only going to get busier. They are certain to be in demand and will more than likely get the world.

The album was originally launched on Pledge easily reaching over 250% of their target in a matter of days, but with Pledge completely letting all the bands and fans down with their mismanagement they launched it through their own site and again hit over 200% in next to no time. This is a key insight into the band about the kind of fans they attract. Loyal, supportive and eager to reciprocate the effort the band puts in themselves.

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Hands off Gretel -62

They are the perfect band to headline an event celebrating women as driving force Lauren Tate is a role model to young women who want to create and bassist Becky (definitely the hardest working person in rock) is the absolute epitome of a powerful woman.

It’s also Lauren’s birthday today (21 again apparently) and this adds to the celebratory feel in the room, that and a pre show bottle of Prosecco.

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Hands off Gretel -63

Midway through the set guitarist Sean decides to leave the stage and go for a wander around the venue, going upstairs first and then using the space in the back of the warehouse to completely lose his shit and rock out. If there had been any kind of stage rigging I’m sure he’d have had a go at climbing up that too.

Their set was crazy good and with the new material being some of the strongest they have created they have set themselves up for some real success.

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Hands off Gretel -73

Check out the new album at the end of March and try and get yourself to one of the summer dates they have just announced. You won’t be disappointed.

See the full photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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