We were invited to chat to Jason Williamson from SLEAFORD MODS a couple of months back and we had a great chat about the upcoming album release, the accompanying tour and of course, the various summer festivals that they’d be performing at. It seemed like a matter of days from when we published the interview that it was time to go and watch them perform tracks from their healthy back catalogue as well as from their latest long player Eton Alive at Bristol’s O2 Academy, read on to see how the night unfolded!
Manchester Alt rockers LIINES are the solitary support act, dressed entirely in black with a black backline against a black backdrop, LIINES certainly can’t be accused of flamboyance. All focus is left on the music which is very reminiscent of the American 90’s Riot Grrrl scene, it’s impossible not to draw comparisons between the vocals of LIINES front-woman Zoe McVeigh and Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna, both in terms of pitch and power.
The rhythm section provide a weighty driving backdrop for the at times, piercing vocals, in all the right ways. There’s no obvious choices for support acts with a band as distinctive as Sleaford Mods, but it’s clear that LIINES fit in whilst standing out. They’re a far more traditional rock act than their tour mates but bring the same energy and directness and are well received by the O2 crowd. Closer ‘Shallow’ from their debut album ‘Stop-Start’ is well worth checking out.
One of the most unique acts on the circuit today and in many ways one of the most unlikely to have reached their current level of success. It’s been a big 12 months for the duo having parted ways with former label Rough Trade in order to found their own label ‘Extreme Eating Records’.
Of late, the Mods have made more headlines for spats with other bands than for their music. That being said their recent album Eton Alive has received generally positive reviews and as England slips further into Brexit fuelled division and disarray, Sleaford Mods’ minimalist and often bleak outlook gains increased relevancy.
Clearly the Bristol crowd relate as they have turned out in their masses, there’s a tremendous ovation as DJ Andrew Fearn nonchalantly walks out onto the O2 stage, beer in hand, moments later frontman Jason Williamson follows and the audio assault begins. Jason paces like a caged animal, and this an oddly conventional cage for such an individual performer.
His frantic movements emphasised in juxtaposition with his bandmate who stands behind his laptop, bobbing his head along to the beats he created, it’s a weirdly captivating contrast. Jason’s vocals are as much performance as delivery, the emphasis on each line is remarkable; humour and aggression are blended together seamlessly as he unleashes a barrage of quotable and relevant lines.
New album Eton Alive makes up most of the set and the audience have done their homework joining Jason on his tireless tirades, ‘Kebab Spider’ and opener ‘Into The Payzone’ feel particularly strong. Crowd favourites such as ‘Tarantula Deadly Cargo’ and ‘Tied Up In Nottz’ also feature to the delight of those in attendance.
The music never lets up and the crowd don’t stop moving, interaction is minimal, there’s no speeches here just track after track, a constant attack, whipping the crowd into a sweaty fervour, the tempo rarely deviates and songs somewhat blend together before accentuated sing along choruses mark out the singles. It’s all business tonight, a workman like performance from a fiercely working class band playing with a point to prove, and prove it they did.
Long live the mods!
Photo: April Wilcox