Sleaford ModsMountford Hall 28/10/16
Never have a band like SLEAFORD MODS been more essential. At a point when society lurches in directions unfamiliar in modern times, pop music has a responsibility to pick up the baton. The baton of hope. The baton of protest. The baton of holding prevalent views, positions and fucking megalomaniacal dynasties to account. I see little across the pop music spectrum to give me much hope that this challenge is being met. Fuck me, pop music is scared to ask the question.
Jason Williamson stalks the stage like a hunched velociraptor, sweat pouring off him, steaming like a piping kebab spit. A silhouette of rising perspiration and rapidly delivered phlegm hangs around his head like a twisted halo. His side-on delivery and exaggerated tick – it’s so fabulously awkward. Great performers always perch on the edge, straddling the chasm between wonder and a bloody nose. Danger is always present, always part of the allure. Andrew Fearn bobs along, bottle in hand, play finger at the ready. His bulging eyeballs tell tales.
“Marmite,” you may say. “What on earth does the skinny guy with the cap actually do?” is the common retort. Fuck that. Sleaford Mods are modern pop’s gastric band; a direct retort, a last-ditch wake-up call to a bloated art form. The kids are getting fat, square-eyed and disengaged. We need this band.
In Face To Faces Williamson spits, “…in our failure to grab hold of what fucking little we have left we have lost the sight. And in the loss of sight, we have lost our fucking minds.” Despite it seeming to be to our plug-hole detriment, we human beings are a tribal species. We are drawn to our own – whether that be an ‘own’ based on collective outlook and shared values, or one based on some drip-tray nationalism. In theory, this should be for our collective betterment; however, it takes a braver person than me to subscribe to that view right now. I’m not alone in the observation that, despite the supposed global interconnectedness our modern world brings, we seem to be surrounded more than ever with amplified voices that sound just like our own (like, “None of my friends voted out”). The terrifying episode across the pond bludgeons the point home. And tonight is a lamentable and tragic reminder of this. Every fucker here looks like me, is the same age as me, they dress like me. I’m pretty sure they vote like me, obsess about pop music like me and are inherently flawed like me. Everyone in here is over 30. Shit, this gig is even in a student union, which makes the wrinkly turn out even more depressing.
Go and see Sleaford Mods. Take your teenagers, take your nieces and nephews. If you don’t have any, borrow one. Play You’re Brave on repeat at family gatherings. Print transcripts of Face To Faces and pass them hand to hand at the gates of your local sixth form college. Because, for pop music to unfurl the banner that it has historically carried – as an international force for change, as a platform for collectivism, to champion communality, civil rights, women’s rights, as a platform for social and political change – we need groups like Sleaford Mods to connect with today’s angry generation. It’s the hot-headed kids of today who will pick up the baton, run with it, and ram it up the backside of the hideous new prevailing norms.