sat 18/11/2017

Sleaford Mods, Manchester Academy review - laptop punks still have it | reviews, news & interviews

Sleaford Mods, Manchester Academy review - laptop punks still have it

Sleaford Mods, Manchester Academy review - laptop punks still have it

Socially conscious ire at the heart of the music pushes this gig to fever pitch

Shout, shout, let it all out

Sleaford Mods are not just those two sweary guys with a laptop from Nottingham. Their unique mix of acerbic, politically conscious lyrics and lo-fi earworm loops have rightfully earned them a growing and devoted following across the country. Indeed, the audience at Manchester Academy is packed with moody 20-somethings and middle-aged punks. Rather than appearing intimidating, however, the atmosphere is full of camaraderie and childish excitement, as everyone waits for these de facto voices of the disaffected to take to the stage.

First up, though, is Nachthexen, an all-female four piece whose guitar-less new wave takes as much from early synth-pop as it does from Gang of Four et al. It’s easy to see why they’ve been picked as support for Sleaford Mods. There’s something no-nonsense about their music, which lets the monotonously despairing vocals (think The Cure’s first album) soar above them. “Have You Seen The State” perhaps most perfectly unites the hard drums, cosmic keyboard, and guttural bass underneath the singer’s bleak vision. Their new single “Disco Creep” is similarly indebted to synth music. It wouldn’t sound out of place alongside early LCD Soundsystem or the darker side of Bronski Beat.

They’re smiling because Williamson is confronting an important issue head-on

After Nachthexen finish, we’re treated to a playlist of Eighties power ballads, dad-rock, and oddness, seemingly created by someone who’s never heard what the headline band sound like (Joe Esposito’s “You’re the Best”, anyone?), until Sleaford Mods enter to an atmosphere nearer to that of a football stadium than your average gig venue. Singer Jason Williamson greets the audience with a chipper “Awight?”, before beats programmer-cum-nodding dance icon Andrew Fearn, in his trademark snapback, quickly triggers the first track on his laptop. The noodling bassline of “I Feel So Wrong” starts winding its way through the audience, and everyone begins to move.

With the set largely consisting of songs from 2017’s English Tapas, Williamson’s energy is such that he seems to fizz and pop with spit, tics, and fury, strutting around the stage between songs like a peacock. The contrast between the wit of “The angel of the Midlands has flown away, probably south” and the frequent raspberries made into the mic are part of what makes them so much fun live. There are also singalongs a-plenty. From the marching “Army Nights” to the dance-punk tinged “Jolly Fucker”, the crowd is behind Sleaford Mods the whole way.

The band’s’s enduring centrepiece, “Jobseeker”, kicks off the encore and whips the audience into a frenzy. The joy on every face chanting, “I’m a mess, desperately clutching onto a leaflet on depression supplied to me by the NHS”, initially seems odd, until you realise that they’re smiling because Williamson is confronting an important issue head-on. They fly through the driving “Tied Up In Nottz” and finish on the twisted choral demon that is “Tweet Tweet Tweet”. 

The night is best summed up by Williamson himself in one of his pre-song titbits: “I know there’s a lot of fucks and cunts, but really it’s all about love.” It’s comforting to know that there are still bands like Sleaford Mods with something to say that matters.

Overleaf: Watch Sleaford Mods live on Seattle radio station KEXP

Williamson’s energy is such that he seems to fizz and pop with spit, tics, and fury

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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Superb. Amazing night relived word for word.

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