Arriving in Camden Town the rub and mix of London smashes against the senses - all nose, eyes and ears. I am making my way down the High Street to Koko - London's hip hangout for NME youth and groove (I've got a Brit Award) to see Sleaford Mods - Nottz (with a Z you cunt) upstarts - emperor's new clothes or the real thing ? (just so you are aware of this - the are the real thing - and i've never thought otherwise)
There's something about Sleaford Mods that brings out the bile in people - they either get it or fucking hate it - with a passion. A real passion - trying to drown out one of the most authentic voices in rock n roll this decade. I don't know why the man (that's the 'man on the street) thinks like that - perhaps he's a wanker.
So down a hot high street of cheap plastic and chicken. With carrier bags, skateboards and mental health, crab eyes and rage I make my way to the Palais - a venue steeped in tradition and history - comedy ( the last Goon show was recorded there) and music hall - cheeky songs and bawdy crowds.
How times have not changed.
How times have not changed.
The concert is an early one - doors at seven - Vic Goddard and his Subway Sect on at 7.30 - and Sleaford Mods at 8.30. We all have to get out by 10 so NME people can set up stuff and groove. Me I like the fact it finishes on time - clocking in and clocking off - I know my hours - work like. But this concert is far from work like - it feels like Sleaford Mods are on the verge of that bigger breakthrough - new songs from 'Key Markets' have creeping claustrophobic choruses - there is a difference in the air. And I'll return to this later.
So Vic gives a pleasant set of post punk scratchiness and hollers and shakes - you get the lineage (from here to where we'll be going with Sleaford Mods) - the ranconteur - there's a story about this one and that one - the audience peppered with beards and loss of hair - young ones and old ones - they are receptive. I am receptive to these sounds too - it reminds me of The Only Ones and Orange Juice - The Jam and The Buzzcocks - it has its place because Goddard was a face then and he is now. Good stuff.
So myself and Andy B (a long time friend and with an open mind to music and the masses) snatch a cheeky pint or two and position ourselves in the crowd in readiness for the band. And they are a band comprising singer/ poet Jason Williamson and musician Andrew Robert Lindsay Fearn - oh but it's a lap top and he doesn't even play owt. Get awwt of it. Of course he fucking plays it - he plays it every night - without that stance and shake at the side to Williamson's frenetic peacock strutting - head shaking - hair brushing - tourette's ticking I think it wouldn't work. Fearn has this 'lad on a bike outside the off licence asking you to buy fags' feel about him - even though he could get his own. It's a likely alliance of minds - words and bass - beats and politics - it's a Pet Shop Boys borne out of Poundland and Bargain Booze - Kwik Save and Frozen Foods - of small market towns - concrete slabs and orange fluorescent haze as days became dazed as life present just fuck all to do - day in day aawwwwt.
I think I've been waiting for Sleaford Mods for a long time - saying that they've been going for a long time - anyway - I like a rant - an incoherence - a 'I just can't fucking believe it' strop at life and here is Williamson and Fearn to articuate this in brutal inarticulation - with bellows and burps - raspberries and grunts - this peppered spastic magic - sums up the state of the nation aptly - white British rap music (perhaps?). Williamson arrives after Fearn has set up - a few thumbs to the full hall and they are in and on it for the next 80 minutes. Williamson's lyrics depict the frustration and pointlessness to modern living - puncture the ideology of musical acceptance from the masses - he attacks bosses (sack the manager) - sees the ugly overbelly of being a citizen in the streets.
Williamson struts and juts - there's a camp element and theatre to it all (apt in this music hall setting) - seeing it in the flesh he reminded me of Iggy Pop - all command and freak - everyman and star rolled into one - all stage glory as this nation turned Tory. What's your story? Delivered with wit not banter, shouts and stutters of tales of real life gutters and nutters on trains and buses and in shopping centres (the Vicky Centa) I lived in Nottingham for eight years - it gets under your skin - I can see this midlands mentality wrapped round these visions.
These are true modernists.
You get a sense the audience are shifting in their demographic - there's a fella holding a wine glass ( i mean him no harm) but you know what I mean - all middle class elbows and A roads. English Heritage visits and cheese - mixed with fixed stares and potential threats of violence. I guess Sleaford Mods have mortgages to pay with their faces of rage. And that doesn't matter - your music moves with you - you can tell on these new tunes - there's a temperance in his temper. Andy B even suggested that Sleaford Mods music would appear in advertisements - he thought Homebase - I'm not quite certain about that.
But I feel I am witnessing a band of the (no) future. They mean it man. We mean it maaaaaaan. The band continue with abuse - sonic shakes and bass (rowche) rumbles - the aural equivalent of a gang of hoodies showing cheap youtube clips of spits in playgrounds and accidents and precinct fights - all hot headed and lairy - not scary. Cunt this and that. Rage about those times- i fucking hate these times and here is the idiocy articulation of fear and loathing - we don't know what to think - shut it aawt mate - shut it awwwt.
I want a bounty - just a fucking bounty.
Sleaford Mods are the genuine article - not that they claim authenticity and all that shit - this is craft and graft.
I am 44 next week and I have never been more excited in my life. Onwards and upwards - here's to the Sleaford modernists - you cunt.
Here they are.