Hot Water Music – London Camden Underworld

By paul

This gig was actually at the Mean Fiddler…

Ok, so I’m about to see Hot Water Music (undoubtedly one
of my all time favourite bands) playing at what is considered by many to be a ‘big’ venue. I had two immediate thoughts about the gig. One was that hearing HWM through those huge Speakers was going to be awesome! The other was that I was dubious (to say the least) as to how the promoter thought in god’s hell HWM were gonna get anywhere near packing a venue of that size out. So, it would be no surprise to anybody that one of the first things I noticed when walking into the Mean Fiddler was the
sincere lack of a crowd. The second thought was that my favourite bar and standing place in the venue (The one on the balcony to the right hand side) was closed. Definitely
due to low ticket sales!).

First support band of the night were Blocko. Ok, I have heard many a thing about Blocko over the last couple of years, 99% of it very positive, so my expectations of them live were particularly high. I’d have to say that they totally lived up to them. Now on first impressions, viewing the band, one might be rather pet-
rified! Watching the three
burly skinheads pacing
around the stage with their instruments certainly paints one immediate kind of picture in your head and the last thing
you would expect to come out of such a band is a sound similar to what I would describe as an amalgamation of River City High, Senseless Things, Samiam, The Police and Texas Is The Reason. Infectious
melodies and extremely tight musicianship made it a very enjoyable performance. It was a shame that the crowd (which by now had accumulated to at least 250 people in a 1000 ca-
pacity venue) were completely oblivious to what was happening on stage. It was one of those typically very British ‘polite
applause after each song’ kind of audiences. However, if they are playing anywhere near you I would whole heartedly recommend seeing them!

Next up were a German band called Donots (Which is ap-
parently pronounced Doo
Nots). The first thing that immediately struck me about the band was how much the lead vocalist looked uncannily like Ingo from Waterdown,but
with lots more hair! However the Donots were incredibly bad! They were another one of those ‘woe oh’ punk bands in a similar vain to pre-;Smash’ Offspring and post ‘Mantra’ Shelter but just no way near as good! However, although boring I have to admit that they did put on a good show. Visually they were really lively around the stage (the only thing that was really lacking in Blocko‘s set), throwing themselves about the place, talking lots to the crowd etc.. I’ll also have to admit that even though I couldn’t stand their songs, they had a very likeable stage presence. They looked as though they were really enjoying themselves, which made me really want to like the music…. It was tight but just not my cup of tea! I therefore decided after 4 songs to go to the bar and have a few beers in
anticipation of the headlining act HWM.

Ok, I have seen HWM twice before, both times were at The Garage which is a much smaller venue than the Mean Fiddler and both times they totally blew me away. They were consistently tight and their live
sound was always out of this world, I was beyond excited and my anticipation of this gig was absolutely immense. I was going to try and do a track by track review of this gig but I gave up due to not actually knowing the names of the tracks and only knowing the track numbers! Anyway the first song was ‘Flight And A Crash’. They played this really really well and were really tight. The crowd seemed to be
loving this as was I. The sound was very muddy (as it had been all night which is a great shame considering the rig that
that venue has) but they were playing well, and the veins on Chad’s neck were doing some serious pulsating! Unfortunately the entire gig went seriously downhill from then on.

They started to play really, really sloppily. The band who I once thought were one of the tightest live bands around had turned full circle and had become a very average live band. It just seemed as though their hearts were really not in it at all and that they were just going through the motions because they had to. Admittedly it wasn’t all that bad. ‘Remedy’ was played tightly and with energy, as were ‘Paper Thin’ and ‘Three Summers Strong‘. However the rest of the set was considerably loose and uninspiring which is shocking considering how much of an inspiration HWM have been to so many bands. Maybe the band were tired from touring, I guess I caught them on an off night, which is something I really never would have thought possible.

I do wonder if this had been the first time I had seen them play whether I would have walked away with a higher opinion of the show. But as with all bands, when you’ve seen them play amazingly once, you are always going to compare all future gigs with that one amazing time. Kudos must go to the band for selling their merchandise at very, very reasonable prices. HWM have always been consistently good at doing that. I just wish the consistency had stuck in other ways as well.

Disappointed? Oh yes sir, I most certainly was!

Special one-off guest reviewer Sami