Review: No Frills – Sleaford Mods

I took a trip to Fibbers last week to see The Fall sound-a-likes The Sleaford Mods.

Prior to their arrival on stage we were treated to support act Liines (I can only assume the extra I is to make their name easier to Google). The band themselves are a 3 piece alternative, post-punk band from Manchester.

The easiest comparison to make in terms of their sound would be Gang of Four (repeated statements as lyrics and a bass which seems to be turned up to 11). The band consists of lead singer Zoe McVeigh (who looks like Justine Frischman from Elastica and Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance had a love child), Tamsin Middleton on the aforementioned dirty bass and Leila O’Sullivan on drums.

I have to say, having never even heard of the band before, I was mightily impressed with their stage presence and their songs even if some of them are a little too derivative of 1980’s post punk for my liking. I would definitely recommend checking them out on whatever device you use to listen to your music.

Following the satisfying starter course of the support band, The Sleaford Mods came on for our main event of the evening. If you have never seen the band before, my only warning would be to not go in expecting all the sensory stimuli which normally comes when you see a successful band. There are no frills here; no light shows, no smoke machines, a very basic, unmoving background image on the screen behind. It is literally two men and a drum machine. The first thing to say about the band would be that Andrew Fearn has the easiest job in music from a live performance perspective. He stands there with his bottle of lager and presses play at the start of the song – that’s it! This is not a criticism by the way as I think it actually adds to the bands don’t give a shit attitude that they seem to have towards anything that could be considered as extraneous. Vocalist James Williamson has good stage presence, particularly his extensive use of what can only be described as the T-Rex arm whilst gesticulating. Suprisingly, some of his mannerisms also cross into Morrissey territory.  His ‘singing’ style can best be described as a hybrid of spoken word/ shouting/ rapping. All in all, he keeps the crowds attention well throughout their set.

The bands set consisted of many songs of their new album ‘Eton Alive’ which is a good thing as I feel this is their strongest album to date due to the increased complexity of the backing music composed by Andrew Fearn, and the introduction of some much needed melody during choruses (something which I think really helps to differentiate between songs). The new songs were punctuated by old favourites such as ‘TCR’ which seemed to have the most resonance with the live crowd.

Overall, I would definitely recommend seeing them live but I perhaps would have liked to see a bit more stage banter in between the songs to introduce the context due to the live setting the lyrics can sometimes get a bit lost in amongst all the other noise going on in the venue. This is important as the lyrics, telling the stories of everyday UK life, are the main selling point of the band.

Words by Christian Greenwood  (Presenter of Music History 101: the Story of…)

Image Credit: YelloMustang / www.fibbers.co.uk

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