Mods or “modernists” have been proudly showing off their immaculate taste in finest clothes, scooters and music since the 1960s. Mods: Shaping a Generation keeps up this fad with a great exhibition all about this phenomena. Matt Mead reviews for Louder Than War.
Holding fort for the aforementioned social movement is Leicester’s New Walk Museum. Mods: Shaping a Generation exhibition tells the little known tale of Leicester and Nottingham mods as told by those that were there at the time of the 1960s mod explosion, depicting a colourful true story of what is was like being part of this iconic hip and happening scene.
The exhibition greets the visitor with a visual feast, carefully and lovingly displayed as you would expect, soundtracked by the familiar sounds of mod anthems including Booker T and The M.G.’s Green Onions, The Action I’ll Keep On Holding On and Doobie Gray The In Crowd.
Original immaculately treasured clothes are impressively displayed with mohair suits, Levi 501 cords and original Mary Quant multi-coloured miniskirts all making an appearance. We even get a glimpse of the original suit as worn by original mod of the 60s – lead singer of Genesis Phil Collins in the You Can’t Hurry Love video. A mock-up Ready Steady Go stage depicts an excited crowd on the famed TV show.
Scooters make a unforgettable appearance. With the original scooter used on The Who’s Quadrophenia album sleeve, with pictures of Daltrey, Townshend, Entwhisle and Moon fixed into the mirrors, to see this in person and in such supreme condition is jaw-dropping. There are other scooters on show, including similarly pristine conditioned Vespas and Lambrettas being the preferred motor for the boys and girls about town.
The story of the mods that adorns the walls of museum tells the honest, candid story of the mod movement in the Midlands. There are tales of the drugs that were used to keep the young hipsters up all night, often purchased or stolen from the local chemist. If it wasn’t for the drugs, all-night club nights would never have existed. There is also a little section afforded to the enemy, rockers – often seen as the greasy-haired, leather-clad, oiled-up Harley Davidson riders, the contrast between mods and rockers couldn’t have been more different.
The end of the mod era came due to drugs and music changing, plus the bottom hem of trousers getting wider with the end of the 60s looming. It is pleasing to note that as you weave your way through to the conclusion of the exhibition many of the mods who are quoted in the exhibition are still alive, pictured still wearing similar suits to those they wore all those years ago. It feels appropriate to quote the Modfather Paul Weller, who was once heard to say ‘I’ll always be a mod, you can even bury me a mod’.
The exhibition is FREE to enter, open until 30 June 2019. With lots of other events happening in and around the exhibition, this event is not to be missed
All words by Matt Mead. Further articles by Matt can be found via the Louder Than War author archive pages.