Gigs

Live Review: The Pop Group / Sleaford Mods, The Bodega (21/10/14)

Shaun Gordon Photography

While the prospect of seeing the Pop Group alone seemed enticing enough, the announcement that the ‘Mods were taking the support slot for their show at Nottingham’s Bodega made it a night that was far too exciting to miss.

The Sleaford Mods have a reputation that predeces them, with the whirlwind of press hype flaunting them as the ‘next big thing’ to emerge from Nottingham’s music scene. So it was exciting to finally see what the talk was about. The duo comprises vocalist Jason Williamson and his compatriot Andrew Fearn, whose role is vaguely centred around making the accompanying music. Williamson certainly has stage presence, leering, swearing and swaying: he addresses his hometown audience between every song and engages in a way that typifies their image of being ‘ordinary blokes.’ They played a short, eight-song set of crowd favourites: songs like ‘Fizzy’ and ‘Tied Up in Nottz,’ with several members of the audience going downright mental. With such a strong local identity and an unorthodox, unique manner of expressive performance, it would be interesting to see how the pair are received farther afield.

…bucking a distinct trend of de-politicisation, unlike many of their contemporaries…

The Pop Group’s present manifestation is more-or-less the Bristol band’s classic lineup from the end of the 70s: and the time elapsed since their split in 1981 is evident when the band appeared onstage. But the time passed does not seem to have tempered their spirits whatsoever. Singer Mark Stewart’s stage persona is as menacing and thrilling as he appears in old video footage.

If you shut your eyes, it wouldn’t be such a stretch of the imagination to think they were all young men…

Their political sensibilities are still a major priority: pausing between songs to promote the Campaign Against Arms Trade (their whole tour, in fact, is in support of this cause) –bucking a distinct trend of de-politicisation, unlike many of their contemporaries. The recent reissue of their 1980 album “We Are Time” meant that they devoted a large portion of their setlist to songs from it, but they also played selections from across their career, including their better known songs like “She Is Beyond Good and Evil” and “We Are All Prostitutes”. The acrid, caustic guitar sound and echoic shrieks were underlain by a rhythm section that at times verged on disco and funk, to create a style which undeniably influenced much of the 80’s post-punk, yet still seems sonically quite novel. If you shut your eyes, it wouldn’t be such a stretch of the imagination to think they were all young men.

James H Elsey

James is listening to: Todd Terje / Roxy Music – ‘Love is the Drug’

Feature Image Shaun Gordon Photography

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