While driving to the gig listening to Sleaford Mods outstanding ‘Divide and Exit’ CD, I came to the crossroads where the Hare and Hounds pub , the venue for tonight’s gig, is located and Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn from Sleaford Mods were standing on the pavement waiting to cross the road. I stopped to let them over — it was a surreal moment sat in my car listening to their music as their moody faces glared back at me from the CD cover lying on the passenger seat and in real life as they crossed in front of my car. I felt on edge and didn’t know where to look.
Tonight’s show was put together by Supersonic Festival promoters Capsule. The line up kicked off with local band and self-described ‘destructive Brummie Sex-punk Trio Youth Man. The energy from this young band was fantastic and after one song the crowd who had begun with a safe distance of 10ft from the stage were engaged and moved in closer. Kaila Whyte the lead vocalist and guitarist leapt around the stage throwing kicks and lunging at bass player Miles Cocker throughout the set. Drummer Marcus Perks looks like he should be in ‘Kid and Play’ with his flat top afro and glasses. All of the band are on form tonight and put on an amazing performance.
There are elements of the Rude Girl styling’s similar to Pauline Black of The Selector in Kaila Whyte’s vocals, amplified with the passion and fury of punk rock. Musically they are very tight with shades of Shellac and The Jesus Lizard thrown in for good measure. The set finishes with Kaila emptying a can of beer over the head of some poor unfortunate in the front row. As the band exit the stage bass player Miles dashes past me to throw up in the corner of the room, this is the result of the effort and energy he and his band mates put into their set. This was a great opener and can’t wait to see this band again. Also Rolling Stone have flagged them as ‘1 of the 10 artists you need to know in 2015’, so watch this space!
Next up was Rainbow Grave, a Hate Sludge rock group made up of Nicolas Bullen (ex Napalm Death), Nathan Warner (ex Bee Stung Lips) and Johnny Doom (ex Doom) and James Commander on drums. The genre Hate Sludge is basically Sludge/Stoner rock with very bleak hatful lyrics from what I can make out. Nic Bullen takes up vocal duty as well as guitars and the sound of the group is akin to the Melvins. Even Bullen’s vocals tonight sound like Buzz Osborne’s; the hair is the obvious difference, Nic Bullen has gone for the David Lynch look instead of Buzz’s Side Show Bob look. This comparison is meant to be taken as a positive as I love the Melvins and really enjoyed Rainbow Graves performance.
But with tracks like ’10 Million Tonnes of Shit’ with lyrics like ‘I hate your shoes, I hate your face, I hate your beard, I hate your pets, I hate your kids’, I can assume they don’t take complements well. There was some great banter from the crowd when someone shouted ‘this is a bit bleak!’ Their response was ‘well, life is’. Nic Bullen then went on to describe his life philosophy — ‘Life is like a pyramid, you spend all your time climbing to the top, when you finally get there — there is nothing’. The set finished with Bullen demanding us all to ‘GO HOME!’ . After seeing Rainbow Grave tonight I can feel the start of a love of hate relationship blossoming.
I have found it hard to describe Sleaford Mods to people in the past and when I do, it doesn’t give justice to what they are about and what an experience it is to witness them live. Andrew Fearn is on the stage setting up, looking like a ‘scally’. He is wearing a baseball cap, jersey sweat pants and a Simpsons Tshirt. If you didn’t know who he was you would question where he acquired his laptop from. At this point I started worrying that I hadn’t locked my car, no time to nip out and check as front man Jason Williamson is making a bee line for the stage and the crowd part to let him on. This duo have an awesome stage presence, Jason glares out into the crowd and you genuinely don’t want to make eye contact with him. Andrew presses a button on his laptop stands back and a sample of a crowd chanting ‘Sleaford Mods, Sleaford Mods’ fills the PA and it kicks off!
Jason goes into a rant on each track about modern life and broken Britain. His East Midlands accent makes his monologue sound so real. It is part poetry, part spoken word but all punk and fury. Andrew Fearn’s role in the group is to create the music, which in many cases is a repetitive sample or loop — but he has done his homework, quite literally as he isn’t creating this live he is just pressing play on the laptop. He stands back and nods to the beat and swigs from a can of beer….Job done.
Early on in the set the track ‘Jolly Fucker’ is played which tonight’s audience really get into and it feels like a bit of a ‘sing-a-long’ in the chorus. I have seen them live once before, but what struck me tonight was how much more animated Jason is. He has started doing a camp strut round the stage in-between vocal breaks in songs, which can only be described as mincing. This is a hilarious juxtaposition, as he looks hard as nails and this has Andrew cracking up. He also occasionally does a ‘moob adjustment’ and pouts— a bit like Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough when they dressed up as gossiping old ladies. This behaviour is then contrasted, when he snaps back into his pissed off glare and looks out into the crowd.
During the song ‘Job Seeker’ Jason starts doing a Quasimodo impression and puts a bottle of water up the back of his shirt to make a hunch and shouts ‘the bells, the bells’ as he limps around the mic stand. This act was repeated in several songs tonight much to Fearn’s amusement. Another theme that kept reappearing was Jason’s fascination with The Hare & Hounds Glitter Ball that was suspended above tonight’s capacity crowd — during ‘McFlurry’ he crow bared it into his rant ‘I got a Brit Award, I got a shit Award, I got a Glitter Ball’. The set finishes with the amazing track ‘The Wage Don’t Fit’, in which Jason acts trying to buy a Bounty chocolate bar from an all night petrol station and banging on the glass trying to get the assistants attention, which in this rendition is brilliantly method acted by Andrew who looks blankly back at Jason as he shouts ‘WHERES YA BASTARD BOUNTIES!!!’.
When the set finishes they hide behind the amps at the back of the stage and reappear for their encore. They finish off with ‘Tweet, Tweet, Tweet’ which rallies the faithful into frenzied finish. It felt like everyone around me was either dancing or singing along. As I said at the start of this section it is very hard to convey what an awesome experience it is to see Sleaford Mods live. So next time they come to your town don’t miss them and you will see what I mean……just make sure you lock your car doors.
A Little Ditty
Tied Up in Nottz
Under the Plastic and NTC
Wage don’t Fit
Tweet, Tweet, Tweet
Review: Sean McBurney
Photographs: Steve Kilmister