El Sol, Madrid
October 6, 2007

Words & Pictures: PETE CRAVEN

Great timing on my part this, being in Madrid on a work trip when The Hydromatics hit town. The El Sol Club in Calle Jardines is just off the Gran Via slap in the heart of Madrid’s city centre. It’s the square with loads of hookers hanging on every corner, just in case you are passing. Adds to the ambience I guess.

The four Hydromatics take to the stage just after midnight and kick off with ‘Do it Again”… yeah, lets! And keeping it in a sonic vein they follow instantaneously with “Electrophonic Tonic”. “Mystically Yours” is the first track of the night from their latest album. A moody brooding number for sure. Watch out… here comes another chestnut - “Dangerous”, and then a real surprise… the ‘Fives “Looking at You” given the full wall of wailing guitars treatment, with Tony “Sonic” Slug blasting out some scorching riffola - beautiful! “Looking at You” fuses into “Earth is Shaking” the title track of the new album, and then it’s back to SRB territory big style - “Love and Learn” and “Getting There is Half the Fun” - with the foot going hard down on the accelerator in the final third of the latter number.

“Ready to Ball” from the “Powerglide” album is dedicated to Benito Gasolini, one time road manger for The Hydromatics, whose life tragically ended right here in Madrid this year. He was working as a roadie for the Rolling Stones and was killed in an accident whilst breaking down the stage set.

Last time I saw The Hydromatics was at Da Pits bar in Amsterdam a few years ago - my brother and I got talking to this wildly enthusiastic RocknRoller outside before the gig. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was Benny. It’s quite appropriate then that the next number is the bust-out “RIP (RocknRoll)” (also from “Powerglide”) “Baby Jane” is introduced by Scott as an old Southern Blues number, which is featured on the new album”, and he gives his guitar a break for this one. What’s to say about “Sweet Nothing” – it’s one of my favourite SRB songs… actually it’s one of my favourite songs period. And they don’t let me down, giving it a totally respectful shake down.

The band departs in a haze of feedback but are back minutes later to give us our moneys worth with an encore… and of course we know what’s coming …. the most righteous “City Slang”, and it is still hard to believe that this was the only official studio output that the Sonics Rendezvous Band released. Some legacy.

Scott and Tony give it their all, whilst the newest recruits in the engine room hold it right down hard and steady … I don’t know who the bassist is, but drummer Ries Doms cut his teeth in Dutch hardcore bands for years, and he does a monster job pounding the skins.

The Celibate Rifles’ Kent Steedman played on, as well produced, the new album, and I can only imagine what level having him onboard for the tour would have taken them. Evidentially funding was a factor in him not being involved… ack – there really is no justice in Rock ‘n’ Roll.

And that is the end of the set…I thought we might have gotten another couple of numbers, but maybe the band was spent… it is only about 1:15am, which - as I’ve learnt in the past few days of gig going in Madrid - is really not that late. Still, it meant I was able to leg it and catch the last Metro ride back out to my hotel… so no complaints. A night of Excelente Rock ‘n’ Roll!  

I picked up a copy of the new album “The Earth is Shaking” from the merch stall on my way out, and, having played it a couple of times, am giving it a big thumbs up. ‘Rifles aficionados will wanna know that Kent’s guitar is right in there, with Tony Slug taking on the Dave Morris role to create a barrage of six string amplification. Anyways I’ll leave it to The Barman for a lot more detailed review of the disc. My job is done. Adios Amigos…