Live Notes: Sleaford Mods @ Echoplex, April 9, 2017
There’s a rare sense of event at the Echoplex for Sleaford Mods’ sold out L.A. debut Sunday night, the room is humming with a mix of true heads, buzz chasers, older punks wrinkling and greying tastefully (some not so much), the usual anglophile cosplayers, using 1980’s NMEs as their 2017 Vogue. I’m not sure if it’s the intended response, but about maybe three or four bars into the Nottingham duo’s impressive showing, I notice I have a big grin verging on disbelieving laughter. There’s just something about the situation that tickles one in the best way – firstly, the minor miracle that they even exist at all, that they’ve finally made it to Los Angeles debut, that they appear in person to be exactly the characters we’ve seen in media for a while now, and, above all, that they deliver on the live performance in spades.
Sauntering onto stage to cheers of recognition, Happy Mondays on the pre-show tape, Andrew Fearn, the slender, mustachioed half whips out from his backpack pack the extent of the gear needed tonight: a laptop. It’s set atop a couple of milk crates, no fancy gear stands necessary, thank you very much, we knicked these out behind an off license and they’re are perfectly fine for the task at hand. (OK, I may have imagined that last scenario.) He wanders off for a bit before the show start, returning shortly with four cans of lager and his partner, Jason Williams, the rapid fire voice of Sleaford Mods. He’s in fit fighting shape and sports his trademark straight edge bangs.
A quick bit of a hello to us, then it’s straight into “Army Nights,” lead track off the new LP, English Tapas, their first for Rough Trade, a fitting home for the political post-punk/rap act. From there, the sparse beat- and bass-heavy tunes fly fast and furious. Fearn triggers each track with a single mouse click, then stands back, drinking, echoing Williams’ lyric spitting; clearly he has the best job in the world. The content of Williams’ biting lyrics rightfully get the majority of the coverage but it must be noted what a stellar performer on the mic he is–his rapping is impressively athletic, the dexterity of his annunciation is on par with Eminem. He’s also a bit of a character, mugging, pulling cheeky faces and emphasizing bars with a hair fix tic.
“Snout” and “TCR” are high points, getting a surprising number of Angelenos shouting lyrics back at them. “Jobseeker” and “Tied up in Nottz,” the anthems are saved for the encore, then they send us home on “Tweet tweet tweet” (chorus: “This is the human race/UKIP and your disgrace/Chopped head on London streets/All you zombies tweet tweet tweet”) The vocal love from the crowd clearly hits them and they declare this the highlight of their brief tour of the States. A grateful Williams is careful to not call us “L.A.” but addresses us in full as “Los Angelees,” when asking that we please invite them back. I’d say that’s a guarantee.
Sleaford Mods | sleaford-mods.myshopify.com