It’s an overwhelming success for the underground when a band whose music can’t be broadcast on mainstream TV or radio sells out a 2,500 capacity venue. Sleaford Mods have been on an unstoppable rise since the release of last years Divide and Exit, and tonight they become the third local artist to sell out Nottingham’s Rock City. They hold this prestigious honour alongside chart staple Jake Bugg and Saint Raymond, who are on track to sell out the venue for the third time this year in December. Following the release of their third or ninth album (however you choose to count it) Key Markets earlier this year as well as the culmination of their first tour in support of the album, what better way to celebrate than in the city where it all started.
Opening up the night is Kagoule who unleashed their debut record Urth to a wave of critical acclaim last month and have been too busy touring alongside Johnny Marr and Metz over in the States to celebrate in their hometown. The local three-piece waste no time opening up the night’s proceedings with the explosive ‘Adjust The Way’ and start as they mean to go on. Loud and proud, sadly breezing over the crowd of middle-aged attendees.
Quick glances of new material show the band exercising a more experimental approach with walls of feedback and unexpected stops akin to the really experimental era of Sonic Youth’s catalogue. ‘Made of Concrete’ manages to draw a lot more attention from the audience with a few members rushing toward the front as Lucy Hatter takes the lead over ambient guitar lines.
However, it’s on the big finale of ‘It Knows It’ where the band shines and shows potential of returning to this stage soon. Over the monolithic Smashing Pumpkins tone of Cai Burn’s guitar, Lucy and Cai’s voices provide a black and white contrast in a chorus which is clearly an alternative festival anthem in the making.
Within moments of the next act coming off, Andrew Fearn of the Mods takes to the stage – bottle in hand – to set up his laptop and is met with an overwhelming cheer and football chant of the band’s name. The band waste no time with the changeover and take to the stage within 5 minutes. In true representation of the silent majority – for lack of a better description – the band look weathered; years of claustrophobic nine-to-five working weeks have caught up with them and Jason Williamson channels his rage towards these mundane and oppressing environments into his lyrics.
Williamson falls into the microphone repeatedly crooning “home sweet fucking home Nottingham” getting more and more agitated on each occasion until he releases a huge scream and ‘Arabia’ kicks in. The Mods capture the attention of the entire crowd with attendees jumping onto tables and sofas to catch a glimpse of the duo in action.
It’s a simple set up: one laptop, one angry man, no backdrop and no fancy lighting. It’s stripped right down to the basics, and when the venue tries to add more lighting to the experience, Williamson quickly retorts with “Who’s doing the lighting? Mate, I’m not a fucking roast chicken”.
Focusing mainly on cuts from their new record, it’s the old favourites that get the fans piling over each other. Rock City quickly becomes a mess of sweaty bodies. The audience screams back the chorus to ‘Jobseeker’, a live staple in the duos set from the early days; many here have likely witnessed this song in coffee shops and bars a fraction of this size over the years.
Dismissing theatrical encores, the duo pop off stage for a quick drink and to catch their breath before running back on for the post-punk ‘Tarantula Deadly Cargo’. Taking a more melodic approach, the song is one of the few sung by Williamson, who prompts a rousing singalong from the audience in attendance. Following ‘Tweet Tweet Tweet’, audience in the balcony stamp a demand for more, but the Mods quit while they’re ahead. Until next time.