Last Friday night, Nottingham locals Sleaford Mods played an underwhelming gig to a crowd of 2,000 people in Manchester’s Academy 1 following the release of their new album Eton Alive. This is the first tour and album to be released since Sleaford Mods parted ways with Rough Trade Records, and from the low quality of this gig I suspect being out in the music world on their own is harder than Sleaford Mods imagined.
The gig started with Eton Alive album opener ‘Into The Payzone’ and Sleaford Mods came bounding on stage with big energy and a bigger greeting from the crowd. Considering how long they’ve been playing gigs it was not surprising to see how effervescent the audience was, and the Sleaford Mods boys really did get a lively welcome from their adoring fans. ‘Into The Payzone’ sounded good live and definitely paved a promising path for a good gig to follow.
However, as the songs rolled on, the gig didn’t seem to really go anywhere. It was interesting to hear how the sounds sounded no different live than they did playing them on Spotify, and this was what made the gig souninspiring. Every song played was good, but it was not memorable, and this made the gig drag on slightly, making it seemingly monotonous and characterless. There was little emotion from the band – making it seem like it was just another show they had to play, ignoring the fact that they had a crowd of adoring fans waiting for something more.
The lack of love for their audience was seen further through the minimal interaction Sleaford Mods had with the crowd, except for the periodical shouting of swear words that followed every song. Maybe being un-emotive and uninspiring is all part of the Sleaford Mods persona, but considering everyone had paid £20 to see them, they could at least have shown one smile.
A major distraction throughout the gig was Sleaford Mods member Infant, who looked frankly idiotic as he stood towards the back of the stage throughout the gig with a beer in his hand as he wearily side-stepped to each song in an attempt to dance along.
Lead man Jason Williamson seemed to do all the hard work (if you can call singing over a backing track hard work), whilst his partner unintentionally took all the attention from the crowd. In all honestly, Jason could run the band on his own, Infant seemed to be completely purposeless for the whole set.
Considering how successful Sleaford Mods have been throughout the years, it was a disappointment to see them live. Also, seeing how this is the first album and tour for Sleaford Mods on their newly formed record label Extreme Eating I had high expectations for a great show, or something vaguely memorable at the very least. Perhaps having the backing of the very well-established Rough Trade Records was more vital to Sleaford Mods than they know.
Overall, it was a mediocre gig filled with mediocre songs and below mediocre stage presence. For such a credited band, I expected more.