Camden Electric Ballroom
30th Jan 2015
We reviewed Sleaford Mods triumphant homecoming show last week, the first date on their first tour of 2015. Now read on to see how the second show on the tour went down…
“Thousands of Saturday lager bellies punching the air, denouncing the value of someone else’s flag while viciously believing in their own.”
When you lose it, waving your fist at the sky, hope that your ire has half the wit, eloquence and gut-level emotional impact of Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson.
Williamson’s indignant rage and cutting humour turn articulate the grim feelings most of us share but few want to acknowledge: the slow burn of petty frustrations and disappointments, spewing bile against the idiots around him, the corrupt bastards running the show, jobsworth authority figures gumming up the works and his own self-destructive tendencies.
Swaggering to the mic and introducing himself with a barrage of guttural grunts and shouts, Williamson launches into brusquely titled Bunch Of Cunts, free associating and calling out Dr Dre (“Them headphones are shit, mate and they’re everywhere”) Breakthrough single Jolly Fucker churns through imagery at a dizzying pace, crowd bellowing along. Its lyric about ‘blood on the hands of working class rage’ one of many visionary moments thrown in amongst the sweary catharsis and bitchy asides about scenesters.
Williamson waves his hands, rubbing his head in a series of involuntary ticks, like Michael Stipe reincarnated as a steroid-pumped madman, inhabiting the bilious character of his lyrics, playing his air guitar behind his head as he skewers The Kills’ Jamie Hince (“Banal. Banal. Banal. Let down your long hair”).
Like his heroes, the Wu Tang Clan, Williamson blends dazzling Beefheartian streams of consciousness with tales of street-level violence, toilet humour-meets-body horror and flashes of social protest. Much has been made of Sleaford Mods anti-austerity politics but this isn’t the diatribe of a political scholar but the ire of intelligent people side-lined by misfortune and inequality into shit jobs.
A great observational comedian too, Williamson creates emotional impact through a keen eye for very specific scenarios that are somehow universally recognisable; the petty frustrations, the puerility and austerity of life in low-wage Britain, the jobsworths, the poseurs and the aggro twats (“don’t let the mechanics of beer convince you you’re some kind of warrior”) all doing their bit to drain the joy out of living.
Sleaford Mods’ set is short, brutish and nasty: Fired up and gym-hardened, Williamson prowls the stage but performs at the mic turned to one side facing Fearn, punctuating songs with crazed, inhuman volleys of noise and then singing ‘I’m gonna be a cunt till the day I die’. It’s brilliant and hilarious and compelling just like their songs.
Andrew Fearn jigs around behind his laptop, swigging on a Becks, singing along and laughing at Williamson’s Grand Guinol. His pared down beats get more room to breathe in the live environment, revealing more range than you’d imagine from such a pared-down sound: ultra-minimal on …Cunts and 6 Horsemen but stretching out on the more bouncy Under The Plastic And The NCT and the wonky, sawggery loops of The Demon.
All the hits are ferociously dispatched: is Fearn playing his beats sped up? Tied Up in Nottz, Tiswas with its devastating skewering of Denmark St retro-rockers and Jobseeker, Andrew Fearn’s best beat which gets the biggest crowd Is it just coincidence that whenever the audience start singing along to the famous bits he screws up the lyrics and shouts ‘Fuck off’?
A quick plug for The March for Homes, a diatribe against Serge Pizorno (“That cunt from Kasabian asks where’s all the rock’n’roll gone? It’s dead: it’s up my jap’s eye, it’s green and mouldy”) kick off the encore, finishing with the Wu Tang-style Shaolin Monk chorus chant of Tweet Tweet Tweet.
And then they’re gone, a bare, brutal hour packed with more ideas than most bands manage in a lifetime. Sleaford Mods: the great anti-heroes of our time.