The Kazimier, Liverpool
3rd March 2015
Polarising Notts duo Sleaford Mods tear Liverpool’s Kazimer a new one. Louder Than War’s Sean Diamond was there.
If you’re a regular reader of the British music press, chances are you’ll have heard of Sleaford Mods. Very few acts seem to be polarising opinion in quite the same way as this Nottingham duo; their vitriolic outbursts about the dearth of talent in much of the mainstream ‘indie’ scene have already made them a very high profile enemy in the form of Noel Gallagher, whom they described as having ‘blood on his hands’ for the spate of 60s revivalist bands making waves on the current live circuit, which they believe him to be responsible for. In typical Gallagheresque fashion he hit back, claiming to have “blood on my hands and champagne coming out of my taps”, whilst also declaring the Mods to be bereft of tunes, that they would never have sold out Knebworth and also describing one of the members as having “clear mental health problems.” They seem to know how to hit all the right annoyance buttons, we could certainly do with a few more similarly outspoken firebrands right now. Chances are you’ll either love them or hate them…
Support comes in the form of two local bands. The first, Sugarmen, arrive on stage looking extremely sharp and dapper, proceeding to tear into a fast, frantic and fun set of melodic new wave and 70s flavoured New York frolics, with a fine line in social commentary. “This song is dedicated to the NHS. OUR NHS!” shouts the singer, banging the bollocks off every track as effortlessly as a Vulture picking the bones of a corpse in the Mojave Desert. Incredibly polished, yet with a raw youthfulness that shines as bright as the sun, these lads are a serious live proposition. I wish the same could be said for Hooton Tennis Club, who are as woefully unedifying as their name would suggest. So much so, in fact, that in my brief toilet break during their set I inadvertently wandered into the ladies toilet for a second, so zombified and sense-dulled by their unethical musical sludge. Actually, that might just have been me being a twat. Either way, give it a year or so and they’ll have sold about 6 million albums to the Mumford And Sons brigade. I’ve seen it all before with Coldplay on the other stage at Glastonbury in 1999…..
“We’re Sleaford Mods and you’re a bunch of cunts.” Jason Williamson is an angry man, and he doesn’t mind sharing it. A former benefits officer and session musician, at the age of 44 Williamson is surely the oldest frontman of an ‘in’ crowd band since Alex Harvey! Much like Alex, he gives the impression of being someone who has lived a full life, has seen (and possibly done) bad things along the way and has just about come out the other side; sick and tired of all the bullshit and corruption which seems to come hand in hand with the “English” way of life, seething and ready to ruck with the masters of the universe strangling the country for all these years. It’s a surreal, strangely hilarious sight, Williamson hardly looking towards the audience before suddenly dancing towards the front of the stage at inopportune times and making funny noises down the microphone, with Andrew Fearn dancing along on the left of the stage like a Welfare State Mad Hatter. Punk, hip hop, the ranting poetry of John Cooper Clarke and Seething Wells… all in the mix, all mashed together mercilessly, spat out in the gobshite manner of Mike Skinners’s gnarly, Fall-obsessed, Mansfield Town supporting older brother.
That’s just the music. There’s the lyrics too. It’s no surprise that the lyrics of Sleaford Mods have recently been published as verse in a book called Grammar Wanker. It’s difficult to know where to start, so how about this, from the Brit Award baiting ‘McFlurry’? “Boris Johnson and The Cheeky Girls shut down the underground/ So it’s back to orgies On The Buses/ Drop us a fiver mate/ No worries/ £1.29 on shag all.” No? How about this, from the delightful ode to their hometown of Nottingham, ‘Tied Up In Nottz’? “You’ve got to be cruel to be kind, shit man/ Save it up like Norman Colon/ Release the stench of shit grub like a giant toilet kraken.” If the answer is ‘No’ then you’re probably not going to get on with the mods. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, it’s just an indicator of how the Sleaford Mods veer towards extremes. It goes without saying that you WILL either love them or hate them. You can’t “quite like” Sleaford Mods, that’s not genetically possible. By the end of a set you’ll be left with an overwhelming desire to either kiss them or kill them, they really don’t do things in halves…
Society is responsible for the likes of Sleaford Mods. Society will pay for this, one day. Until that day comes a calling, live each day as though it’s your last and do something to change the world; if not your world, someone else’s. Because when the Apocalypse arrives you can bet these two will be stood there on a hill with the four horsemen, looking on as the evil are struck down by lightning, laughing.
All words by Sean Diamond. More work by Sean Diamond can be found in his Louder Than War author’s archive.