MM’s very own Chris T Popper packed his rucksack and his slightly worse for wear sleeping bag to head off to Amsterdam last weekend to catch his new favourite band The Sleaford Mods…
When I saw that The Sleaford Mods were playing a gig in Amsterdam it was a done deal. I booked the flight and landed at Schiphol airport with time to spare. Luckily as it turned out. Boarding the wrong train I blissfully sped out of the airport in completely the wrong direction. Cue walking around Den Haag for 5 minutes thinking how much Amsterdam had changed before realising that I wasn’t in Amsterdam. Sheepishly I managed to board the right train (I asked this time) and an hour later I’d made it to the Melkwig in the lively Leidseplein part of town.
The Sleaford Mods were due on at 8.30pm so I was just on to my third beer by the time they appeared around 9pm. The perfect alcohol/seeing a live performance mix. Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn make up the duo whose albums Divide and Exit, Austerity Dogs and Chubbed Up/Singles have been my soundtrack of 2014. They are without doubt the most toxic, fetid breath of fresh air around. I can’t help but connect with the fact Williamson has worked for the Council (as is my day job) is around my age with a penchant for brilliant, scalpel sharp wordplay and good music. I sort of want to be him.
They kick off with a storming Middle Men. Williamson doesn’t do pissing around, he just launches in to each song with the same ferocity as the last. Occasionally he circles the mic before flying back in to deliver more brutal invective. Throughout Fearn stands to the side swaying to the music, swigging a bottle of beer and grinning – or mouthing along to the lyrics. He looks like how I feel, immersed in the bloody good time everyone is having.
They tear through all the crackers – Jolly Fucker, Jobseekers, Fizzy as well as favourites Tied Up In Nottz and Tiswas. They also throw in Routine Dean which is one of my personal favourites. At no point does the momentum slow, it’s full bore all the way.
I’m tempted to quote some of Williamson’s much admired lyrics here but I can’t start as I wouldn’t stop. He does inform us that ‘this one is about cunts’ before the song Pubic Hair Ltd which raised a smile. As did the suitably mocking line warning us not to ‘believe the fucking papers’. The Sleaford Mods have certainly had their fair share of media attention recently, with Divide & Exit riding high in annual album of the year charts – including a no 3 in Mojo. ‘Not bad, I can sniff a backlash coming. Where’s me acoustic guitar?’ to quote the wry response they posted to a review of Chubbed Up/The Singles by the Guardian’s Alex Petridis.
Almost everything Williamson is singing about tonight I can relate to in some form – and pretty much everything comes under his withering gaze. Social media, old rockers and punks, nostalgia, ignorance, xenophobia – its austerity Britain as sicked up by your pet cat; which ensures Cameron and New Labour get a quite satisfyingly pummelling too. No one delivers a ‘fuck off’ quite like Williamson in full flow, which you may think is not that important, in which case you can fuck off.
The crowd are in appreciative mood and I honestly can’t remember enjoying myself so much at a gig in years. I was in the perfect spot (at the front) with the perfect measure of alcohol dovetailing perfectly with the adrenalin buzzing through my veins – basically I was at optimum level.
As an encore we get treated to £5.60, Corgis and Tweet Tweet Tweet and then they’re done and I’m off outside for some fresh air. The Sleaford Mods’ energy has hit me like a double decker bus… or perhaps more fittingly a great big fucking tram. At the end of it all I need something to calm the nerves and decide to head for a coffee at one of those quiet shops I’ve seen in town.
A couple of hours later I am stumbling around the city trying to read an upside down map and feeling really hungry. Still humming Middle Men though, whole bloody fucking shop’s on it.