HANDS OFF GRETEL
LIVE IN EDINBURGH & GLASGOW
29th & 30th OCTOBER
Hands Off Gretel brought their latest tour to Scotland with dates at Bannerman’s in Edinburgh and Nice & Sleazy in Glasgow where they played to sell-out crowds. PCN Magazine was at both shows to catch up with Lauren, Becky, Sean and Sam (and Rus the hard-working tour manager, march man, driver, and all-round good guy)
Their high-energy angst ridden shows have gained a growing reputation and bigger crowds as they never fail to impress. As they edge towards the end of the tour we find out how they have coped with life on the road again after Covid-19 and gauge how the fans react to being back at gigs.
Friday 29th October…
As Hands Off Gretel travel north from England in some of the heaviest rain in years the PCN explorers begin their trek from different parts of Scotland. The journey from Glasgow to the outskirts of Edinburgh usually takes about 40 minutes… not today!
Hands Off Gretel, dressed in Halloween costumes, entered the stage to huge acclaim, and from the word go they smashed it! There was no easing the crowd in by playing it safe; it was straight into in-your-face punk-tinged grunge and the crowd loved it.
PHOTO CREDIT: HANDS OF GRETEL – EDINBURGH – MARTIN BONE
The hall by now was a seething mess of sweat-drenched fans eating out of Lauren’s palm; hanging on her every word. Sean was whirling like a maniacal Dervish whilst strumming furiously on his guitar. Sam and Becky are the rhythmic backbone of the band and were rock solid all night.
The big-hitting songs were met by huge roars and tangible waves of enthusiasm; none more so than ‘Milk’. It seems quite bizarre at times to see fans jumping around and dancing to songs with such deep or serious topic matter… a fact recognized by Lauren when she asked the fans to listen to the lyrics of one particular song instead of dancing and clapping along.
One of the big concerns of the band is the safety of females at gigs and they try to encourage them to the front of the stage. The idea being that as a larger group, close-knit at the front and under the gaze of the band and security they should feel safer. As an older male I see this as a good idea but can’t, for obvious reasons, quantify it.
The set raged on and only slowed down very briefly during the incredible ‘Freaks Like Us’ — probably to allow Lauren to rest her voice a little as her guttural screams were very much in evidence throughout the night.
As the show was reaching an end I made my way to the merch desk where the aforementioned Rus seemed to be very busy dealing with sales of, and enquiries into, the widest range of merchandise I’ve seen in a band at this level — very impressive with well thought out pricing.
We had reached the time that nobody likes at great gigs… the last song. The band looked drained, the crowd looked drained, Rus looked remarkably fresh and we were out on the streets of Edinburgh
PHOTO CREDIT – HANDS OF GRETEL – EDINBURGH – JOHN BROWN
Saturday 30th October…Nice n Sleazy – Glasgow venue
It’s an earlier than usual start for a home venue as I have some interview time lined up with the band Fortunately Sean was on the ball and gathered the others in the corridor backstage for a quick five minutes chat…
We talked about the tour (obviously) and chewed some fat for a while before the band needed to go and prepare for the gig.
Another plus point on getting to the venue early was seeing the support bands.
First on was Visceral Noise Department. VND is a local band of mischief-making musicians who don’t take themselves too seriously but can’t half play a tune. Unfortunately, I only caught the last three songs but they are worth searching for on the internet and going to see playing live.
The next band on were Scarlet. Hailing from the Liverpool area they deserve to be seen on their own merits. Headed upfront by the fiery Jessica, the band knocked it out of the park and the Halloween costume of the bass player was Devilishly good. Again, check them out if you have a spare moment. I managed a quick word with Jessica after the show and she came across as very likeable — another plus point in my book.
The hall was heaving with bodies by the time Hands Off Gretel took to the stage and the atmosphere was palpable. Halloween costumes and make-up was the order of the day for the band once again. The stage in the venue is quite small and, on this night, the stage lights weren’t working properly so it was very dark.
The part of the stage taken up by Becky and Sam were almost in total darkness. This added to the Halloween spirit I suppose.
The Glasgow crowd seemed to be more vociferous than the Edinburgh audience and there was a very short lived attempt at a mosh front of stage. There was no space to swing a cat let alone mosh — please don’t swing cats or any other animals; it’s frowned upon and not acceptable in any way.
During the gig Lauren asked the girls in the audience to come forward and this seemed to work quite well here. The males at the front, including me, moved aside to allow the girls through and it added to the atmosphere. It also made for better viewing as the females that came forward were all of a smaller stature and assisted in allowing everyone a view of the stage.
Once again the merchandise seemed to be doing a roaring trade with Rus taking it all in his stride like the trooper he is. After a brief chat with Rus, with both of us watching in awe or amazement at the drunkest main in the world standing sleeping whilst inhaling his beer through his nose, the show was over and Hands Off Gretel left the stage to huge acclaim and the clamour by the fans for “one more song”. Alas, all good things must come to an end.
Before leaving the area outside the venue I caught up with fans and got some opinions on the gig. A few even recognised me from the night before. Some of the comments, although positive, were not for a review possibly read by children!
PHOTO CREDIT: HANDS OF GRETEL – GLASGOW – PHOTO CREDIT: JOHN BROWN
Rebecca: “Aw man, they were excellent. I’ve seen them before but see after Covid and lockdowns and stuff this was the best!”
Ten: “Becky!!” Yes, his name is Ten
Marky Boy: “What he said (Ten). Just Becky man. We’re going to hang about a bit longer and see if we can get a drink with them and a selfie or something”
Mhairi: so… this is like my 4th time I’ve seen them. I saw them yesterday in Edinburgh. Lauren is amazing; so inspirational. She just cares for the same things as me. The only difference is she can sing LOL”
All of the above were from Glasgow and gave full permission for their names to be used and attributed to the quotes
On a wee side note – Scarlet were on their way to the next show in Blackpool when their tour bus broke down on the motorway. The recovery didn’t arrive in time for them to play the show but they were fine and even entertained us with live FaceBook videos whilst they waited. In an act of kindness and friendship Hands Off Gretel had a whip round in the crowd at the Blackpool gig and donated the proceedings to Scarlet… Isn’t that just a novel story to finish the review?