April 23, 2024

Sleaford Mods – Electric Ballroom, Camden, London – 30th January 2015


I felt like an animal trapped in the proverbial corner, it was the prelude to an occasion of domestic violence.

I struggled to think about how I was going to reason with him. Around me young men and old geezers, some in flat caps, others with shaven heads and pointed beards jostled, moshed and licked the malevolence in the atmosphere with Cheshire cat grins. A woman in her fifties, ruby, pissed off with all the London wankers who didn’t want to dance, stood on my foot, echoed and responded to her on stage hero.

His volley of verbal punches, complex combinations, accompanied with jets of water vapour spat out by his billowing lungs, made no sense to me. All of this reminded me of an event several years ago, a mile down the road at Mornington Crescent, of a Black guy in motorcycle leathers and a helmet in his hand, stood on the footpath, thundering rage at nobody at all. Such sights common in Camden.

Hello London he mocked in a sneering caricature of the northern accent.

He’d incessantly dust the top of his head with one hand, to keep himself in rhythm, to remind himself of what to say next. In between songs he’d shake his eyes, and make weird noises, just to dust the cobwebs from his mind. He’d scrunge up his face like Les Dawson, Uncle Peter, Donald Duck. When he wasn’t hooping and convulsing he’d be camping it up, his wrist bent against his waste, his hands sidling up to his imaginary breasts, doing a little jig, doing a little chicken dance. I was thinking the token gay character from Coronation Street, in a strop, Larry Grayson, Frank Spencer.  But rather than cooing “Oooh Betty!” he finished each song with raspberries, fart noises, choking and grizzly imperatives to ‘fuck off’. “You CUNT” salted & peppered everything he had to say.

His colleague, tall and lanky, sidled his extraordinarily long arms into this combat trousers, when one of them wasn’t holding a beer. For the most part he nodded along to his own beats, in appreciation, looking at the computer from time to time just to make sure it was still on. Occasionally he’d mouth the words to the songs, and be the nonplussed recipient of complaints from his beat boxing star man. A placid looking fellow, a cool version of Stephen Merchant, towards the end of the night he got down off the stage and handed several bottles of beer to the punters at the front. Once more behind his computer, he cupped his hands to receive his bottle opener, lobbed from a grateful member of the crowd and spinning at 120rpm.

All the time you felt you were listening to the first inchoate rumblings of a new musical expression for 21st Century oppression. At the end of the gig a young looking thirty year old from Norwich made my acquaintance and told me just that. “I want him to be to music what Stewart Lee is to comedy” he told me. He was pissed and by engaging my mental faculties he’d managed to jump twenty places in the queue for a coat.




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