SLEAFORD MODS + LIINES – DE LA WARR PAVILION, BEXHILL-ON-SEA 20.04.19
A trip to the Grade 1 Listed Building that is the De La Warr Pavilion in sleepy Bexhill is always a pleasant experience. It doesn’t get much better than sitting on the café balcony looking out to sea on a beautiful day like today. The iconic pavilion was designed by Erich Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff and opened in 1935.
They hold numerous art exhibitions and it really is a hub of culture, so tonight the locals were in for a rude awakening as Sleaford Mods were in town for day 23 of their UK Tour with their brand of angry, swear word ridden, electronic punk music. That may be a little over dramatic as other bands such as PIL, The Damned and Slaves have appeared here in recent times, so they aren’t averse to a little bit of noise and anarchy, though I can’t imagine many locals in this Tory stronghold getting too involved in tonight’s proceedings. There are now also regular ‘Punk Nights at The Sussex’ which are giving Bexhill a bit more credibility. Next stop a Labour MP? Probably not!
Sleaford Mods are one of those bands that I have wanted to, and always felt the need to like, but just couldn’t quite bring myself to get excited about. This is the reason that it has taken me some 12 years to get around to seeing the band play live and the fact that they are playing locally (6 miles down the road) to me for the first time that I can recall. Their politics are somewhat in line with mine and they are of a similar age, so you would think this to be a match made in heaven, but maybe I’m not at the same level of anger that tends to hit men of a certain age. I was hoping that tonight would be forthcoming with the answer to the question that I have been scratching my head over for several years: Why haven’t Sleaford Mods tuned into my love of punk thus far?
Support act for tonight were LIINES. A post punk band from Manchester – they are Zoe McVeigh (vocals/guitar), Tamsin Middleton (bass) and Leila O’Sullivan (drums). LIINES were formed in 2014 and the only change to the original line up was when Tamsin joined to take over bass guitar duties two years ago. They have been catching the imagination of Steve Lamacq and John Kennedy which bodes well for the future.
From the outset I knew that they were my type of band. Dressed in all black on a hot sunny day on the south coast, they posted the photo on Facebook, I too had been wearing the same coloured attire. I saw Savages play a very good gig at this venue in February 2016 and I can draw some musical similarities to them. Maybe next time one of the band members can attempt some crowd surfing like Jehnny Beth did at that gig. I loved the rawness and darkness of the band, from the impassioned vocals and guitar riffs of Zoe, to the pounding bass of Tamsin, to the great use of the drum cymbals and energy of Leila. They do love an abrupt end to a song which can be tricky if you are unfamiliar with said song and still find yourself dancing after the last chord, but I will definitely be getting more familiar with their back catalogue.
Their debut album ‘Stop-Start’ was released in May 2018 and tonight they played six tracks from it, all being sub three minutes apart from ‘Find Something’ which runs some sixteen seconds over. They finished off the set with two of my favourite songs from the night, ‘Shallow’ released as a single early last year, and their debut single from 2015 ‘Never There.’ There were even calls for an encore but unfortunately time was against them.
The queue to buy merchandise from the LIINES stall after the gig and the opportunity to have a chat with these three unassuming future indie stars was testament to their performance where they showed why they are on the eight-band shortlist to play Glastonbury as the Emerging Artist of 2019. The final is next Saturday and as a result they will be missing the Oxford date of their tour with Sleaford Mods, which they are disappointed about but at the same time they are looking forward to the opportunity to hopefully play Glastonbury. Despite the demeanour of their songs the band are very approachable, and Zoe looked almost embarrassed by the appreciation of the crowd. The frequent outbreak of ‘Manchester la, la, la’ between songs obviously made them feel at home and Zoe quipped about it ruining the surprise of the next song as that is their anthem. Love some Manc bant.
The sky blue and white colour of Zoe’s guitar made me instantly think of Manchester City, but my illusion was shattered when I was told post gig that it was actually more Kurt Cobain than Sergio Aguero, though I was also told that she would not be purchasing a red guitar anytime soon. On that note I can declare my love for LIINES as my new favourite Mancunian band. I for one hope that they won’t leave it another five years before they dare to return to the south coast.
The Showsec guard advised me that her were no setlists available so after the band had picked up their shopping/reading lists for the tour (?!) from the stage floor I was unable to get my hands on a hard copy, but bassist Tamsin obliged by letting me know the set details afterwards.
LIINES Setlist for tonight was:
‘On And On’, ‘Find Something’, ‘Look For You’, “New Song” (So new that they haven’t even named it yet!), ‘Disappear’, ‘Never Wanted This’, ‘Blackout’, ‘Sorry’, ‘Shallow’, ‘Never There’.
So, it was the turn of Sleaford Mods to take the stage in order to promote their fifth studio album ‘Eton Alive’ which was released on February 22nd. For those of you who don’t know, Sleaford Mods are Jason Williamson on vocals with Andrew Fearn composing the backing tracks.
There was no need for roadies as Andrew plugged in his laptop and sat it atop of what looked like several milk crates taped together. He disappeared and then a while later both he and Jason entered the stage and it was suddenly time for those of a nervous disposition to turn away. Given that I had taken my 16-year-old nephew along I was firmly placed in that category as I was wondering if it really was such a good idea as he had never experienced this sort of gig in his tender years.
Jason strutted around stage like a peacock, though not a very colourful one in his black t-shirt, towelling track pants and white pumps, regularly adjusting his clothing, whilst Andrew stood by his laptop occasionally pressing the odd key between songs, beer in hand phallic like, smiling and singing along to every song.
They started off with ‘Into the Payzone’ the opening track from the latest album and the crowd were immediately eating from Jason’s hands. For ‘Kebab Spider’ Jason does his uncanny spider impersonation with his hand above his head, not to be confused with a chicken. The mosh pit started to get into full swing when Jason broke into ‘B.H.S’ with the introduction of a few crowd surfers. It was at this point that I also got soaked by the obligatory flying pint of Sussex Best Bitter which probably would have tasted better consumed by mouth. Showsec did redeem themselves somewhat by allowing crowd surfing without ejecting anyone from the auditorium and even passed quarter full plastic glasses of water into the mosh pit for refreshment.
Sleaford Mods are angry with the system and channel all this aggression into their songs. They have mastered the art of making you feel uneasy and if you are not prepared for that then you might as well get your coat. They have had plenty of ammunition to hone their songwriting skills which they in large part give thanks to the ruling Conservative Party of the past 9 years. The songs are performed in Jason’s no-frills East Midlands dialect and it works to great effect.
With the crowd directing a barrage of swear words at Jason in between each song, none more so than the women stood next to me at the front of which I received in my left ear at full volume as I had opted not to wear ear plugs, he told them off with a “Leave the swearing to us that’s our job. If you can’t handle your beer, then go and drink orange juice” with a few expletives interjected for good measure.
Before the final song of the set ‘O.B.C.T’, another track from the new album, Jason asked the crowd “Have you enjoyed yourselves? Was it satisfying? Is it everything you expected it to be?” In response to that question I would have to say it certainly had way surpassed my expectations and it got even better in the encore as I let my inhibitions go and forewent the role of overprotective Uncle for the night. The youth of today must learn how to look after themselves and the first step towards this is being unleashed into the mosh pit. It certainly added to his, and my, overall experience of the night. I also literally bumped into a former manager from my work place, so it was nice to be on a level playing field with him for a change, apart from the fact he is almost a foot taller than me, and the chance to give him the odd elbow in the ribs without the fear of getting sacked.
The encore included the rather brilliant ‘Jobseeker’ from the 2008 album ‘The Mekon.’ As with all their songs this is still relevant today and probably will be for years to come. By the end of the night they had treated us to seven songs off the new album and some of their classics to leave the audience more than content with tonight’s rant at the powers that be.
Tonight’s setlist was:
‘Into The Payzone’, ‘Flipside’, ‘Subtraction’, ‘Stick In A Five And Go’, ‘Kebab Spider’, ‘Policy Cream’, ‘TCR’, ‘B.H.S.’, ‘Top It Up’, ‘Just Like We Do’, ‘Bang Someone Out’, ‘Jolly F*cker’, ‘Big Burt’, ‘O.B.C.T’, (encore) ‘Jobseeker’, ‘Tied Up In Nottz’, ‘Tarantula Deadly Cargo’, ‘Discourse’.
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