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Hannah Wicklund + Hunny Buzz

Wednesday 5th June 2024

Oslo, Hackney, London

Hannah Wicklund, the former childhood prodigy and multi-instrumentalist with the Hendrix stylings, came of age tonight. Her song selection showcases her multiple talents on guitar and keys and sets her up to be the legend in the making that her early promise hinted at.

With an excellent choice of venue, where you could not fault the lighting and acoustics, Hannah continued her 'Hell in the Hallway' worldwide tour with a song of the same name, taken from her latest album, 'The Prize', that set the tone. As she belts out “Rattle Snake, Rattle Snake”, it’s a harbinger for an intense workout of an evening, switching in moods at the midway point.

In 'Hide and Seek' we witness a more complex yearning in her lyrics, and musically sits more in the mainstream then her previous work. This explains the younger sets of fans who have come along tonight that perhaps would not have appeared at her earlier gigs in the UK. At one point she makes an impassioned speech about previously masking her femininity in the macho world of Hard Rock, but asserts that she now loves to wear dresses, tiaras and pink, and appears more comfortable in herself. In the middle of her set, she slows the tempo for the ballad, 'Shadowboxes and Porcelain Faces', and hits some extraordinarily high notes in 'Songbird Bird Sing', but never loses the overall soulful tenderness.

But it is on 'Mama Said' and her frenetic soloing that really gets me when she picks up the pace. Here, her playing is both incredibly fast, but has a musicality to it that cannot escape comparisons with Jimi Hendrix: she has the quality of seemingly making love to her guitar that exudes eroticism. She remains, in my mind, the best guitarist I have ever seen live. 'The Prize' may be seen as a departure from her work with The Stepping Stones, but reveals an artist who is not going to compromise on her vision and will win over audiences with more of a Pop ballad sensibility with a Country tinge.

She finishes, her set reminding the audience of her independent label, Strawberry Moon, that she self-releases her work on, cocking a snook at the music industry as a whole, alongside the stonking 'Bomb through the Breeze' from her outstanding repertoire, before shamelessly plugging her perfume. The future is certainly smelling of roses for Hannah!

And so, it is for the opening support act Hunny Buzz. The four piece are fronted by the elfin-like Lydia Read, whilst initially the rhythm section of Billy Pedrick on drums and Ewan Base on bass (congratulations on passing your driving test!), sounded to me like The Police, this was contrasted against the lush Shoegaze of lead guitarist Rowan Barfoot. With their infectious energy and optimism onstage, check out the Bristol-based quartet's first EP release, 'Welcome to our Garden'.

Ivan De Mello

Photos: John Bull, AJ and Ivan

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