Tonight’s sold out show at Cardiff University’s Y Plas is opened by Liines from Manchester. They’re a three-piece, they dress all in black, and they sound a bit like Rid of Me might have if PJ Harvey had been in Motörhead. It’s all jet propelled bass riffs and gutsy choruses, and songs like ‘Shallow’ hit all kinds of spots live, even if they are a bit lyrically bland. Tonight is their first show in Wales and by the reaction of Sleaford Mods’ audience tonight they’ll be welcome back soon.
Lyrically bland is not something you can fairly aim at Jason Williamson. He’s like a betting shop Tiresias, spitting some unhinged prophecy at you on the way to your inescapable doom. He’s one of my favourite writers actually, and it’s a pity that his words often get lost in the melee of their live show. That’s not to say it’s in any way diminished. The big picture remains pretty well legible – a cathartic, incontinent rush of fucks and cunts and “Sign for it mate / Fucking sign for it”. Plus, and this can’t be repeated often enough, he’s got some great moves, part goose-step, part can-can, slapping and stroking his head, mincing up and down with a microphone stand looking like he’s going to burst. It really shouldn’t work, yet it does. The only obvious comparison I can come up with is Evangeline Ling from Audiobooks. It’s a great tribute to Williamson that his only obvious rival is a young woman screaming about getting her legs waxed. In every superficial regard, they’re the exact opposite of each other, but both possess the same chaotic energy, the same hint of performance art, or of an open mic poetry slam that’s gone horribly and irrevocably wrong because there’s someone on stage who wouldn’t normally be let in. They should do a Christmas song together. For real.
‘You can tell it’s fucking Friday,’ he laughs as a plastic bottle flies past his head. There’s a rowdy, but very chilled atmosphere here tonight. Sleaford Mods fans are an affable bunch, if occasionally over-friendly. They play ‘B.H.S.’ and it’s a song that becomes more pertinent with every passing day. We are, at time of writing, quite clearly going down exactly like B.H.S., and what’s more, it’s not a sentiment that’s likely to date quickly. It’s going to happen slowly and painfully, and all you’re ever going to see of your pension is a fat man lazing about on a distant boat. The state of the nation in 2019 is Gericault’s The Raft of the Medusa re-imagined as a post-punk banger for a dying high street. I keep looking around the crowd trying to find Cilla, to no avail.
The new songs come across more than well. ‘Kebab Spider’ and ‘Subtraction’ stand out in the early part of the show, and Andrew Fearn deserves a lot of credit for that. For all of Williamson’s undoubted charisma, without Fearn’s music, he’d just be a man shouting. He’s dug deep for ‘Eton Alive’ as befits an album that occasionally allows Williamson to express more vulnerability than usual. The stark closeness of ‘When You Come up to Me’ was one of the highlights of the record and it’s a pity they don’t include it in the live set, as it’s the one ingredient that tonight’s show could really use.
They’re back for an encore which includes the audacious ‘Discourse’. In a real power move, they bury the diss that their music sounds like it was composed out of mobile phone ring tones by building a wild, rollicking rollercoaster of a song around an actual and easily recognisable mobile phone ring tone. What’s more, it’s bloody superb. Williamson has changed into the Seven Sisters AFC Under 10s footie kit. Does your favourite band sponsor a kids’ football team in the Welsh valleys? No? How inauthentic. Tonight we care nothing for such things. The supporters club is in and down the front. We’re not slumming it tonight. This is Cardiff on a Friday. Compared to a lot of things going on outside right now, Sleaford Mods are pure showbiz.
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.