Hardwicke Circus [aka The Hardwickes] "At Her Majesty's Pleasure" released Friday 27th May. Pre-order now: https://tinyurl.com/thehardwickes

The life and times of Her Majesty’s Pleasure begins with rough-hewn Hardwickes emerging from broken bones and bygone band members, fuelled and ready to meet their most dynamic crowd yet: the citizens of our established UK correction houses. Destinations: Werrington, Downview, Send, Maidstone, East Sutton Park, Lewes, Ford, Elmley, Coldingley, Standford Hill and Rochester to perform a set of original music followed by an intimate anything goes Q&A session.

Recorded in prison chapels, The Hardwickes have produced an album that will forever align themselves with the disenfranchised. Sticking to pandemic restrictions, reduced crowds of young offenders, men, and women of all ages & convictions gathered to experience this travelling brotherhood. At Standford Hill, songs such as ‘When The Chips Are Down’ inspired inmates to jump on stage and spit their own bars, at Elmley prison officers and inmates stood side by side to collaborate with the band’s rendition of an early Dylan number, and electric violin players hijacked ‘The Ballad of the Gypsy King’ making it the best version out there. But perhaps the most extraordinary moment came from Coldingley - 

"A prisoner on E-Wing, a complex chap, recently on an ACCT, never socialises with others, introvert and finds it difficult to fit in. Appears to have little in the way of friends, was managed under the ‘complex case’ for a period of time. Mr X turned up for the Hardwicke Circus event, sat at the front and brought his own guitar. He spoke to no one in the audience, sitting in silence but appeared to be enjoying the band immensely. The band lead asked if anyone would like to sing, Mr X immediately put his hand up, I saw others in the audience nudging each other and rolling their eyes. I did myself wonder how I would manage the situation if he got heckled off the stage. However, Mr X confidently got up on the stage, took prize position and took the lead vocals. To everyone’s amazement (including mine) he was outstanding.” Mr X gave the most electrifying, operatic blues rendition of 'Born Under a Bad Sign' that the band had ever heard. The whole room erupted, cheering as if it had only just discovered music for the first time. Only after our performance did we find out from an officer that Mr X had been in the jail for years and had never spoken a word to anybody - prison officers or inmates. Not a word to anyone. But on hearing The Hardwickes, the music took over.

This journey does not stop with the clanging of cell doors - The Hardwickes are proud to be in connection with many of the inmates, hearing tales of improved wellbeing in the cells and an uptake of poetry, lyricism, guitar playing and performance since the band’s visit. This recording is a fast paced, Act Now documentation of a band with it all to give. In times of half-baked truths and trickery, forgery and fame, art can be revolutionary - The Hardwickes at Her Majesty’s Pleasure takes us one step closer to the human connection we are all capable of. 

Using Format