Hearts and Hand Grenades / Mikey Ball and The Company / SoulSwitcher

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The Anvil, Bournemouth, 23rd August 2023

Review and photos by Skid

The sun shone during the day on this beach town, however, it was the dark and cramped subterranean gem that was the place to be. It is situated opposite the opposing and cavernous The Old Fire Station, a venue well known on the rock and metal scene. However, as Mrs Skid often states, it’s not all about the size that matters, and tonight she was right as it’s all about the quality and tonight it was the location for date number 3 of 12 for the headliners and Co.

Floridian tour companions SoulSwitch opened the evening with a wall of hard rock-tinged metal covering their small but impressive back catalogue and with growing experience supporting well-known acts, SoulSwitch are a band on the up.

It was a home gig for Mikey Ball and The Company, where the South Coast quartet filled their allotted time by cherry-picking tracks from their impressive debut “Through the Night” the highlight being “Running” and the finale “One More Night”, the cover of The Cranberries “Zombie” was a decent curveball even with the unusual beginning. It was clear that the band were having a ball and hopefully a follow-up album in the near future will see them playing on bigger stages.

Heart and Hand Grenades hail from Buffalo, NY state, which over its history has been the home of several established musicians and bands including The Goo Goo Dolls, Cannibal Corpse, Green Jelly, Kristen Pfatt (Hole) and Talas / Billy Sheenhan. The last two were bass players of repute and it was bassist-singer Stephanie Wlosinski who fronts the four-piece consisting of guitarists Mike Bress and Kenny Blesy.

Two albums into their career and a 3rd being released early next year gave the band enough flexibility to choose wisely, A new country/thash mash “I Just Want My Rock” was well received but its tracks off “Between the Lines” and “Turning to ashes” where the band shone. Wlosinski is small in stature, but with her extensive tattoos, red strung 5 key bass swung low is as imposing as she is impressive sung with soul and passion while pumping out a groove that was hard to resist, Bress filled in the gaps skilfully, but it was Blesy who stood out as the highlight.

Described as “tall, skinny and looks like Jesus” he seemed overwhelmed to the point of being embarrassed by the attention, but it was clear from the outset he knows his way around a fretboard, justifying the T-shirts for sale on the merc stand emblazed with Kenny F@@king Blesy.

HaHG have supported several big names and crisscrossed their homeland, Europe and the UK and still have a fistful of dates left on this tour ending up at Sandwich, Kent on 2nd September via HRH Sleaze in Sheffield on the bank Holiday weekend. Catch them if you can because on this performance the small venue was witness to a band that has that rare quality and equal mix of talent, sex appeal and class making them stand out from their peers. To quote Timbuk 3 37 years ago, “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades”, Wlosinski and her band need to keep those sunglasses on as their trajectory is only going skywards.

(Photos – iPhone only)


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