Gig Review by Sara Reynolds with Gig Photography by Wayne Fox

Sleaford Mods

Tonight’s support is Liines, a three piece girl group (for want of a better term) from Manchester. Their first time in Birmingham, and the crowd is appreciative right from the first song. All three members are dressed in black (their look a little reminiscent of the no frills look of the XX, and certain grunge girl groups from the 90’s including L7). Zoe McVeigh their lead, has a powerful vocal, with something of a hint of Siouxie Soux, and The Cure’s Robert Smith in her stage presence. With Tamsin Middleton on Bass, and Leila O’Sullivan on Drums. The sound is alternative post punk, and their set is a very enjoyable start to the evening supporting Sleaford Mods on their UK tour. McVeigh at the end of the set exclaims how much she is enjoying the tour, and that Sleaford Mods are simply “Ace”.

LIINES

LIINES

Sleaford Mods. Don’t let the band name mislead you. Sleaford Mods can’t be pigeon holed as a ‘mod band’ – because they’re not. Their vocalist Jason Williamson has described their sound in the past as “electronic munt minimalist punk-hop rants for the working class.” They are certainly political, and certainly of the people. Yet in an interview with Channel 4 (2015) Williamson has alternatively said that he doesn’t want the music to be described as working class – as when you’re talking about alienation or unemployment there really shouldn’t be that assumption, or stereotype.

Sleaford Mods

Peel it back and there are many layers to this band. See them in interview, and the intelligence comes across. See them live and their almost punk energy and anger (not of the violent variety), is transmitted with great humour. The form of this is via Williamson’s vocal wit and the physicality of the duos onstage personas.

Sleaford’s ‘other half’ Andrew Fearn sets up the music via his laptop computer. It’s a pretty humorous watch – he comes on stage and plugs it in…and that’s it – that’s the set up. He gives a cheesy thumbs up to the audience with a knowing glint in his eye, and the crowd claps and laughs. There’s allot of mis-speculation about this guy too, that he just presses a button and the music happens, but he’s actually the music force behind the duo, creating their ‘sound’ behind the scenes.

Sleaford Mods

Sleaford Mods

Tonight’s performance is an interesting watch, not just the band, but its demographic in attendance. The colour and range that Sleaford’s have in their music is reflected in the audience, at least a few old school punks displaying impressive mohawks, skinheads, working class, some maybe angry some maybe not, and some middle class faces in there too. The reach and popularity of this band is broad. They may now have reached the mainstream, but their underground appeal remains fully intact.

Williamson is dynamic throughout the stage set, contorting his body into humorous shapes that describe the lyrics perfectly. Fearn moves in the background to every beat, sometimes with more than a hint of Flat Eric about his performance, head bopping back and forth, under peaked cap. His T-Shirt says “I’m Leaving” with an image of UFO’S leaving the planet. I think we know what he’s talking about in our current political climate.

Sleaford Mods

The tour takes in 33 venues across the UK and is to promote the new album ‘Eton Alive’ (released independently, since leaving Rough Trade Records). Clever title. in a recent interview with “Best of Birmingham” (March 2019), Williamson quips that “Eton mess” would have been a bit too obvious wouldn’t it.

Sleaford Mods first came to my attention on an episode of Jools Holland back in 2015, a total breath of fresh air, and they’re like nothing else I’ve seen live before. A unique mixture of punk, hip hop, Electronica, and pure urban poetry. Sleaford Mods have collaborated with the Prodigy and Leftfield. You can see just a hint of inspiration in their music from acts such as John Cooper Clarke, The Fall, and Ian Dury. Yet remaining utterly unique, Sleaford Mod’s sound has been honed over 11 albums, and a 12 year career.

Sleaford Mods

Sleaford Mods

I urge you to seek them out. A band, when heard and seen for the first time they seem so utterly fresh that they wake you up. They do away with any veneer of ‘respectability’, and tell you how it really is to be living in modern day Britain. Williamson has been known to say, where is the compassion in politics? It’s right here, in their witty take on it all. Now that’s true art.

See the full photoset from tonight’s gig here.

Sleaford Mods

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