Live Review: Sleaford Mods – Liverpool

Sleaford Mods

Sleaford Mods3rd March, The Kazimier, Liverpool

Words: Gary Lambert

Sleaford Mods had never appealed to me in the slightest beforehand.  I’ll be honest the name put me off so I never invested any time in finding out about their music.  I hate the recycling of “mod” culture into a sixties pastiche.  It is representative of everything which The Mods stood against.  After all Mod comes from modern and wearing old fashioned clothes, driving old fashioned scooters and making old fashioned music is the epitome of what not to do.
The morning of the gig I did a quick Wikipedia check of Sleaford Mods and straight away I knew I had it all wrong.  Their music was described as “minimalist electronic post-punk/hip hop”.  This was not going to be a night of watching a gang of twenty-three year olds in suits trying to act cool.  Minimalism came to the fore from the soundcheck which was the most distinctive I have seen in almost twenty years of gig going.  One man looking like the unofficial bouncer from the pub in Shameless walked down the stairs with a laptop and selection of beers, plugged the laptop in and then smiled at the crowd once certain that all the programs had come on and walked back up the stairs.
At this stage the crowd was already musically high from the performances of two of the city’s upcoming hopes, The Sugarmen and Hooton Tennis Club.  The Sugarmen came out with a tight, rocky performance which left me in no doubt that their slot supporting Blur this summer is going to be worth an afternoon of overpriced beer and gallons of sunblock for anybody who goes in to watch it.  They are going to make men punch the air and women touch up their lipstick.  Exactly like a rock band should.
Hooton Tennis Club presents a far less immediate package, but they have a great sound that suits their average music fan image perfectly.  Dreamy guitar playing works with the accent-free vocals can take you to any time and any place since the first electric guitar was strummed.  This is not to say that it felt derivative.  Instead it felt free and comfortable.  A band playing for their own enjoyment and I felt fortunate that their tastes match mine and the rest of the audience.
Now back to the main act, Sleaford Mods.  I have never seen a band before who have left me with such a belief that if I wanted to make music and make a difference I could do.  Simplicity is the key to their product.  The Shameless bouncer was actually musician Andrew Fearn who provides the beats and aural treats that make the ranting of vocalist Jason Williamson move from angry to hypnotic.  Their stage craft follows a similar simplicity with Williamson being stood almost 90 degrees to the audience with his right arm twitching and scratching behind his head in rhythm to his rapping and Fearn tapping the keyboard of his laptop to select the next track then stand back to sip his beer and make a few little body shakes.
The result of these small margins of change was not a performance which made the mind wander to the far off lands of bills and taxes or tomorrow’s meetings but gave their fans nothing to take their mind off the music.  Don’t ask me about the names of the songs as I don’t have a clue.  In fact, I would go as far as to say that I could only make out about 70% of the lyrics, but I could perfectly understand the working class angst and anger which poured out in a stream of consciousness  as could my fellow audience members who bellowed along whenever it was possible.
If someone had told me that I was going to go to my most exciting, motivating and relevant gig in years on Tuesday morning I would have laughed at them.  If they would have told me that the gig was going to involve no instruments, no tunes and no singing I would have walked away in disdain.  I would then have seen them on Wednesday I would have given them a massive hug and ask if they had any more recommendations.  Although they would have to go some way to beat those two real mods!


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