wed 24/07/2019

Sleaford Mods, Dreamland, Margate review - musical news from broken Brexit land | reviews, news & interviews

Sleaford Mods, Dreamland, Margate review - musical news from broken Brexit land

Sleaford Mods, Dreamland, Margate review - musical news from broken Brexit land

Williamson and Fearn prove they're the band Britain needs in these difficult times

Sleaford Mods: a Derek and Clive for 21st Century Britain

Sleaford Mods are livid. About everything. But then, aren’t we all? If any single voice could represent this particularly bewildering era, it would be Jason Williamson’s. Outraged, marginalised, furious, he’s determinedly (with the help of henchman Andrew Fearn) dragging the fetid carcass of British society over the coals. Truly, this is a band for our times. And Margate is a fitting place for the post-punk poets to express their wrath.

One quarter "Shoreditch-on-Sea", three-quarters the seaside town they forgot to bomb, this is classic Brexit land. Money’s been poured into various (arty) projects but the place is still dilapidated with a desolate air of abandonment. The venue – Wayne Hemingway’s visionary Dreamland – limps from crisis to crisis despite being one of the best expressions of optimism in the last decade. It’s perfect.

Dreamland’s 1,000-capacity auditorium has the air of an industrial school hall but feels intimate nevertheless. It wasn’t a capacity crowd but the place was pretty packed. And with references to Ena Sharples, Ray Reardon and rioja in one song alone (the perennially popular "TCR"), the older audience shouldn’t have been a surprise. ("Going aaart is for young people," of course.) The faithful weren’t too decrepit to welcome the band with a warmth they deserved.

The fact that they are so rapturously embraced offers a glimmer of hope in a grim world

Sleaford Mods eschew any superfluous frills – viz Fearn’s sparse backing tracks and the studied lack of stage dressing. That’s the point. They believe that light shows, costumes, make-up are a distraction and, perhaps, a deception. So, it’s just two lean, menacing men from Nottingham who look pretty much like anyone else; one with a mic, one with a laptop. And a whole bunch of attitude.

There’s something of Ian Dury and Keith Flint in Jason Williamson. And the much-missed Mark E Smith. But his is a unique and justifiably jaundiced view "from the bottom looking up". His delight in the repetitive use of expletives is pure Derek and Clive, and utterly British. Although to those not attuned to the message (the UK is utterly broken, and things are getting worse), it might seem a tad "one-trick pony". You’ve got to like them to like them.

Visceral, acerbic and febrile, Williamson’s performance poetry is often laugh-out-loud funny but it’s his astounding delivery, enabled and strengthened by Fearn’s Bez-like grooving, drink in hand, that makes the whole thing really work. Of course it’s anti-establishment, but it’s also just funky enough ("Silly Me", "Discourse" and "Kebab Spider" are pertinent examples), just encompassing enough to appeal to many who don’t belong to the ‘"invisible Britain" which is their muse.

Williamson is keen to ditch the "voice of the people" label that’s become attached to him, but that’ll be difficult when he has an uncannily precise way of nailing the gnawing concerns of the chattering and other classes. The anti-Twitter polemic "Stick in A Five and Go" raises the heat and energy still further, with the audience belting out "you’ve got to siiiign for it mate" (replete with Nottingham vowels) like some sort of national battle cry. "BHS" is another highlight – it’s probably the best thing Philip Green is responsible for.

It’s all very male, and collective male behaviour is something Williamson comments on again and again. Yet despite the aggressive delivery, misogyny isn’t tolerated here. Collection buckets abound – the charity of choice is Refuge.

Astute observation, unfeigned social commentary and a big dollop of fun. It’s been said before – it shouldn’t work but it does. Sleaford Mods are certainly not for everyone. But the fact that they continue to grow in popularity and are so rapturously embraced all over the country offers a glimmer of hope in a grim world.

There’s something of Ian Dury and Keith Flint in Jason Williamson. And the much-missed Mark E Smith

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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