Hearts And Handgrenades/Mikey Ball and the Company/Soulswitch/Lowdown

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The Six Six Bar, Cambridge

Saturday 19th August 2023

Saturday night and I’m out! Never graced the Six Six which is a fine little pub in Cambridge partially managed by the most welcoming and friendly Carl who is a real metalhead, Cheers mate. I went at short notice because I absolutely love the noise Hearts and Handgrenades make so it was a surprise that I was told it was a four-band bill. Talk about VFM they were only charging £8 for entry! Made me feel extra guilty coming in for free.

First up were the thoroughly enjoyable Lowdown from Bedford. They blitzed us with a short but sweet set of the finest stoner/groove metal. The riffs were huge and the rhythms grooved over tracks like ‘I Am King’, ‘Tell Me More’, the crushing ‘MOAB’ and the fabulous ‘Set Fire’. These guys are definitely destined for a bigger stage. ‘All Hail The Riff’ hell yeah!

Next up all the way from Orlando, Florida were Soulswitch who gave us some wonderful melodic metal. The music was heavy with a gruff backing vocal, but the singer had some set of melodic pipes. ‘Everything I Am’ is an absolute banger of a tune and the huge ballad ‘Until The End’ just gave us all goosebumps.

Representing Bournemouth came Mikey Ball and the Company who went from Celtic Thin Lizzy twin guitar stuff to groove rock to southern rock and even a bit of punk at the end. A four-man jukebox if ever I heard one.

Man, it was hot and I’ll be honest I was expecting more people but the guys that were there made the most of it as Hearts And Handgrenades entered the small stage. Front and centre was the band’s focal and vocal point, the diminutive but feisty Stephanie Wlosinski, who also bangs the bass which had red strings! Never seen that before.

They brought their ‘A’ game and belted out some stunning rock and metal plus a few surprises. Kicking off with the rockin’ ‘My Sickness’ they brought out the anthemic ‘For The Weakened’ early then rattled out ‘Beautiful Pain’ and ‘Bad Medicine’ (NOT the Bon Jovi number!). ‘Black Sunset’ got low and heavy before Stef showed us just how it’s done on ‘Scream It Out’ and ‘I Just Want My Rock’. My fave track ‘Nothing Left’ sounded awesome and felt more aggressive live then we got a superb re-working of Rag N Bone Man’s ‘Human’.

The band then invited a couple of Soulswitch and Mikey Ball back onstage for a raucous rendition of Blink 182’s ‘All The Small Things’. Now if you have never heard of Hearts and Handgrenades they do like to go left field and have some fun. None more so on the ‘The In Crowd’ where it goes from a jazz/country vibe to full-on rabid punk on the chorus. Shouldn’t work but it does. Finishing the set with ‘When I Begin’, ‘Burn’ and the massive title track of their first album ‘Turning To Ashes’ everyone was soaking wet, tired and happy.

Dear reader these types of gigs are happening all over the country. For £8 I got to see world-class rock n roll up close and personal. This tour is largely self-financed by the bands so if you can go and see them and buy a bit of merch I don’t know how long the bands and the venues can sustain themselves.

Review by Smudge

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