Early on in the set, Delilah Bon (the new stage name for the newest project of Hands Off Gretel lead singer Lauren Tate) talks about the small stage that she is currently performing on. She tells the audience of a dream of playing arenas, of set-pieces and multiple dancers. But for now, she says that everyone starts somewhere and that the people in the smaller room of Birmingham’s Hare and Hounds are witnessing the start of something.
Equipped with a vibrant aesthetic of pink and purple, prop baseball bats, axes, a chair of nails, a DJ and a bass guitarist, Delilah Bon begins to demonstrate the beginning of this plan to the people of Birmingham. Aside from a couple of festival appearances, this is her first “proper” show as Delilah Bon. But you would not have thought it from the self-assured and comfortable stage presence on display.
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Early in the set, Bon said to the crowd (and I’m paraphrasing here – this may not be the exact quote), “My dad said I should aspire to be the next Neil Young, but I want to be the first Delilah Bon”. A statement that she lives throughout the rest of the performance. With the project starting over two years ago in the throws of Covid lockdown, Tate has had a lot of time to perfect and craft all the aspects of Delilah Bon. The result is a very well established performance that feels like it’s the one hundredth gig, not the first.
The experience performing with Hands Off Gretel may help, but there’s a confidence to Tate that is maintained throughout the set. Her DJ and bass player become back-up dancers to help with the visual aspects of the songs that call for it, swinging baseball bats to amplify the songs being performed. The songs themselves are strong, striking, and combine Delilah’s self-proclaimed “brat punk” with a mixture of pop, grunge, nu-metal and hip-hop. A spectrum of genre of backing tracks but amplified with a live bassist, meaning that the low-end of the songs are given strong prominence.
Through Delilah Bon’s in-between stage rapport with the audience and the sheer anger in her performance, she comes across really well. From her explanations about the genesis of her songs, to her dreams of axe-murdering her boyfriend before ‘Cannibal Summer’, to the response to the Roe vs. Wade reversal with single and set closer ‘Dead Men Don’t Rape’. The energy required for some songs is effortlessly shown, with shouts and call-and-responses all getting the crowd ready to shout back. Amongst all this, she constantly impresses with a technical rapping ability that hits all her lyrics; especially on the faster and more lyrically dense songs.
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But throughout it all, the conviction and presence of Delilah Bon is behind the words to the music. The biggest theme throughout the songs is the pro-feminist message, and the constant highlighting of the war against women. Before the song ‘War on Women’, the bass guitarist lifted up the underside of her guitar to reveal ‘We Will Not Be Silenced’. The DJ raised up a card with ‘War on Women’, and the names of many women that have been the victim of male violence. It’s a striking image, and a reminder that there is highlighting of serious issues that Delilah Bon is rapping about.
On the basis of this, that dream to play on bigger stages looks like it could be in reach. From the outset Delilah Bon manages to craft an incredible stage presence and rapping ability alongside a visual aesthetic making her one to look out for in 2023.
Delilah Bon is on tour in the UK until 12th November.