The Roundhouse, London
September 22nd 2018
We’ve been writing about Sleaford Mods for a while now. Keith Goldhanger first reviewed them at the tiny Old Blue Last and returns to share his thoughts as they play two nights at one of London’s largest venues.
So easy isn’t it ?
Beats from a laptop, a man to press the button, throw in a few choice words, watch loads of other bands with unconventional line-ups get it wrong and fall by the wayside (the ones that would have said at the start something along the lines of.. ‘well if Sleaford Mods can get away with it….’), gather a generation together who want something that reflects the 21st Century (and fits with their vinyl collection 1978 – ’83) and the next thing you know….two nights at The Camden Roundhouse.
Bish bash bosh .
Sleaford Mods make music that sounds great in the kitchen and great in the middle of massive rooms like this and anywhere else in between. Whether it’s on a stage at Boomtown Festival in front of people throwing their hands up in the air without even being asked or on a pavement at two o’clock in the afternoon outside a record shop in West London.
This wasn’t ever meant to happen surely?
That cold Wednesday night at The Old Blue Last half a decade ago when we stood and laughed, knew it was brilliant but didn’t ever think about the possibilities of this ending up on the telly. We only came to say hello, nod casually to one or two people were were supposed to have remembered from the past, enjoy the spectacle of a bloke with a beer bottle, pressing the play button, puffing on his vape and putting his thumbs up every now and then whilst standing next to a bloke who would shout at everyone. We went home that night just as satisfied as we have done numerous times throughout our lives, decided it would be worth writing about and then moved on, casually catching glimpses of the band as they ploughed on, performing on bigger and bigger stages leading up to tonight.
They got to play The Electric Ballroom, Brixton Academy, Wembley Stadium, The big place in Greenwich sponsored by a telephone company, Glastonbury and Bestival ….bloody hell we said every time even though on some evenings they’d be appearing whilst we were still having our dinner.
Let’s not forget the fabulous Prodigy collaboration either, the Invisible Britain DVD, an appearance on the news and visits to countless other countries in decent sized venues where English may not even be the first language.
you could hear us mutter as we walked through the big glass doors this evening.
‘….this was never on the cards’.
At least one of us underestimated the music loving public of the UK or the ability of the band to work their collective socks off.
Looking around this evening, and all the other evenings we’ve stood in the same room as this duo we sense that here we have people that waited and waited and waited and waited patiently for something like this to arrive, bond us all together again (or arguably the first time) and remind us of our youth without attempting to recreate it. The beats are thrown out at a modest pace, each varying enough to maintain the listeners interest. Entertaining enough to captivate us as we listen, nod and take mental notes in the hope that we’ll not forget these lyrics we’re digesting.
Sleaford Mods have been brilliantly consistent over the past five years since we first crossed paths. Not really altering their act too much, they seemed to turn up again and again before we could lose interest and release albums we find ourselves listening to on autopilot. We’re still smiling as we watch, still thinking we’re probably the only people in the world taking any notice of them and we come to the conclusion every now and then that there are still not enough angry bands, willing to tell us what pisses folk off in the world today that appear genuine and are this good at their art.
Additional brownie points are given for not trying too much to up the ante by loading into the venue some big smoke machines, glitter cannons or balloons for the occasion this weekend. This is pub entertainment served up inside a massive room in front of a couple of thousand people which means we, the audience still feel as close to the band today as when they turned up at the 12 Bar in the city’s West End or the 100 Club, The Lexington ……every bloody gig they’ve ever done.
People are still arriving for the first time to see this band. The world attracted to this is a world that understands the anger and simplicity of the band with a collection of tunes many of us have still not got tired of.
‘We are you and we are all part of Sleaford Mods’
Were Jason’s parting words tonight. No encore (no big walking on anthem at the start either) just a long line of magnificent tunes performed at a comfortable pace until the set list has been complete (Tweet Tweet Tweet), we’re thanked for turning up and Andrew Ferne has packed his gear away before giving us all the thumbs up to depart around the back just as he would have been doing over the past few years in whatever room he happened to be performing in.
New tune Stick in a Five and Go arrives early, it sounds utter nonsense until you realise it’s about losing your rag on the internet with a random bloke from Leeds, finding out where he lives in order to smack him in the mouth before doing a runner. Something like that we think. We’ll put it on again.
‘I don’t give a fuck what you did back in the day
What you’re doin’ now is useless…’
Sings Jason on Just like we do, a song that sums up why Sleaford Mods are here in front of us now and not some washed up has been bunch of blokes in a half empty room who may simply be doing cover versions of bands they used to be in (or mates with) in decades gone by. Those of us here probably dip into the nostalgic side of our musical obsessions every now and then but this is something new (still). This is an audience that will also be embracing Idles, be able to quote a line or two from a John Cooper Clarke poem and hopefully be tempted to catch hold of many of the new bands easily available at the click of a play button and a decent internet connection. This is an act that would have been just as popular in 1979 as it is now but back then it really would have been down to word of mouth, one of the three music papers or John Peel.
Sleaford Mods are one of the UK’s greats that haven’t yet had their mainstream media backlash yet (it’ll come once some of them start working all this out) and are a band unlikely to start flag waving and accepting offers of margarine adverts or TV reality shows. They are the refreshing voice of a nation that recognises we’re all part of a (‘Shithole’) country that needs sorting out before it gets even worse. A nation that needs more than just a small handful of acts to let the world know that we’re not proud of our actions against the venerable, poor, the sick and the needy.
Collection buckets for Refuge were on display tonight as they are at many of the Sleaford Mods shows.
In 2018, because we currently inhabit a country that deems it necessary to make cuts to domestic abuse services and ignores the plight of those we walk around giving our loose change to as we step over puddles and start to feel the first signs of another winter approaching on the way back to the tube. A short wet journey via the Brit pop shops, the pubs still knocking out Blur and Oasis tunes that are as old now as Bill Hayley was when some of us were beginning to squeeze into our bondage trousers.
This is a band that wont be forgotten for a long time. They’re the act we’ve been waiting for without knowing what it was we wanted. This is a band that five years ago we thought may be performing in front of us on beer crates in Hyde park corner by now whilst still being brilliant. One of those bands a few of us would obsess over and question the reason why more people were not attending. We were yet again wrong about this and are happy to have been proved wrong.
Two nights at The Roundhouse …. Who’d have thought it eh ?
This is the one that got us onto the bus that stopped outside The Old Blue Last and even then this was over three years old .
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More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Keith on Facebook and Twitter (@HIDEOUSWHEELINV). You may subscribe to the Goldhanger Shorts Facebook page or browse some of his photos too if you so wish.