Hot Water Music

support Red City Radio + Spanish Love Songs
author PP date 21/11/19 venue Lido, Berlin, GER

Tickets to Lido, a small, 600-capacity venue in East Berlin, have been sold out for more than a year in advance, and for good reason. It's not every day you'll get to see Hot Water Music play one of their rarer albums, "No Division" from 1999, in its full glory front to back. The venue is rammed to its limits with beer served in traditional Germanic pant-enabled plastic mugs in promising quantities with conversations buzzing all around us about the different albums by Hot Water Music, Chuck Ragan's solo material and more. Yes, we're back on the travel, having visited Manchester last weekend for the "Caution" show, which also means we're missing out on Spanish Love Songs' opening set tonight because we simply can't get to the venue on time from the airport. We get in just as they are finishing their last song, and they looked like they were having a party as always.

Red City Radio

It's the second time within a week I'm catching Red City Radio on the same tour. Last weekend in Manchester, their set was a hit-and-miss event, for every great song they played a few nondescript ones, which wasn't helped by bad sound. Here in Berlin, they look much more energized on stage, and the sound is much better as well. "Two Notes Shy Of An Octave" is fantastic, with Garrett Dale's roars coming across nice and raw. Yes, the band's set is extremely rehearsed with the same banter night in, night out ("Do you look good? Do we look good?", or the "Do you have some weed for us"), but given the buzzing energy displayed on stage, I'll look past that for now. "Electricity" is a highlight with its "it wasn't bothering me" parts and is really starting to grow on me, just as "In The Meantime..." from the self-titled record showcases awesome energy from the band's part and what is reflected in the crowd as well. Yes, "In The Shadows" isn't the ideal track to end the set with given its balladic nature, but tonight the Red City Radio set looked and felt a lot better than last weekend.

Hot Water Music playing "No Division"

"No Division" came out back in 1999 and to date, songs from it are a seldom appearance at Hot Water Music sets. Sure, "It's Hard To Know", "Rooftops" and "No Division" occasionally make it into the mix, but what a treat it is to listen and scream along to the raw lyrics of "Southeast First", or its silky-smooth bass lines live. As such, the venue is quickly encompassed in a magical atmosphere with "Our Own Way" leading the way with a huge sing-along, perhaps even surprising the band a little bit in the process. And the "live your heart, never follow" moments of "It's Hard To Know" are truly back-chilling, just as expected, and "Rooftops" electrifies the venue further with its mass chant-along.

The relative intimacy of the venue is perfect for airing some of the rarer material that perhaps doesn't generate the same sing-alongs as the aforementioned tracks, but you can tell that this is a special moment for many in the crowd and that is what makes this a remarkable moment in punk rock history. On stage, Chuck Ragan & co look like they're 23 again, passionately rocking out and shaking around with few interruptions so we get to enjoy the album exactly as it was written. The back-chilling sing-alongs to songs like "In Song" highlight the classic status of this record that contains some of the most iconic songs within punk rock. Yes, it might not be their most consistent record and the production of the record is objectively awful, but the energy levels in the crowd tonight speak a totally different story.

As we all know, Chris Wollard still isn't touring with the band so his regular replacement, Chris Cresswell of The Flatliners does a fantastic job filling his shoes. All the songs are faithfully renditioned so if you didn't know better, you might not even know he's not an original member of the band.

The thirty-five or so minutes pass by all too quickly and then it's time to fill the set with other material. Here's where one could hope for the band to be a little more adventurous than to play three songs off "Caution" that are going to be played tomorrow anyway. That we get the ultra-rare "Alachua" from the 1999 live album "Live At The Hardback" and "God Deciding" from the compilation album "'Till The Wheels Fall Off" is great, but did we seriously need "Drag My Body" or "Remedy" tonight? Some material off "Fuel For The Hate Game" or more cuts from "A Flight And A Crash" rather than just the title track would've been far more fitting and made this an even more special showcase.

Sure, we all sing along to "Mainline", "Turnstile" and "Wayfarer"'s woo-hoo, but I can't be the only one left thinking these should have been saved for the second Berlin show tomorrow. A missed opportunity, that's for sure, but as usual very consistent and real with none of the rehearsed antics and extra bs that Red City Radio showcased earlier. "No Division" part is 8.5, but the second part of the set just felt like standard Hot Water Music business save for the new track and the two rarities in between.

8

Setlist:

  • --"No Division" in full--
  • 1. Southeast First
  • 2. Free Radio Gainesville
  • 3. Our Own Way
  • 4. It's Hard to Know
  • 5. At the End of a Gun
  • 6. No Division
  • 7. Jet Set Ready
  • 8. Rooftops
  • 9. Hit and Miss
  • 10. Driving Home
  • 11. In Song
  • --end of "No Division" tracks--
  • 12. Mainline
  • 13. A Flight and a Crash
  • 14. Drag My Body
  • 15. God Deciding
  • 16. Shake Up The Shadows
  • 17. Alachua
  • 18. Remedy
  • 19. Trusty Chords
  • 20. Turnstile
  • 21. Wayfarer

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