Sunday, April 21, 2019

Always Different

Expletive, splenetic, compulsive, balletic; it was glorious to revel in the incongruity of Sleaford Mods in Bexhill-on-Sea last night, bringing their dissatisfaction with the contradictions of modern Britain to the genteel coastal town.

It had been four years since I last saw them live, prompted by 2014's Divide and Exit album, but I had tracked their subsequent progress through the consistently excellent Key Markets, English Tapas and this year's Eton Alive. Seeing them again reaffirmed that there is no one like Sleaford Mods and it brought to mind John Peel's aphorism about The Fall: always different, always the same.

The range of targets is as wide as ever: on Flipside, from the latest album, "Graham Coxon looks like a left-wing Boris Johnson" and on TCR, "Everyone still looks like Ena Sharples and Ray Reardon". If the similes make us laugh, songs like BHS, with its condemnation of the greed of capitalists like (Sir) Philip Green - "the able-bodied vultures monitor and pick at us" - make us as angry as Jason Williamson. But if the number of 'fucks' and 'cunts' are testament to the power of his polemic, the vitriolic language is offset by Williamson's mesmerising stage presence: his restless pacing, his menacing of the mic and his strangely graceful arm movements.

Amidst this performance, Andrew Fearn sways and swigs with a big smile on his face as he takes care of the laptop beats that drive along the stage-front moshing; I have very occasionally seen crowd-surfing at the De La Warr Pavilion but I have NEVER seen beer sprayed around with the reckless abandon that Sleaford Mods prompted. Although there were favourites such as Jolly Fucker, Jobseeker and Tied Up In Nottz to keep the crowd happy, the focus was on Eton Alive, and the final track of the night, Discourse, perhaps pointed the way to a funkier future.

Support, last night, was provided by excellent Mancunian female trio, Liines, whose short and snappy post-punk songs, underpinned by rumbling bass and thudding tom toms, persuaded a large crowd to leave the bar and encourage a talented young band.