English Tapas: The Sleafrod Mods at the Opera House (Toronto)

April 3, 2017 at 1:28 am (Uncategorized)

In the interests of journalistic integrity, I should mention I had been waiting for this show for a long time, and was more than a little concerned that it wouldn’t match my expectations. Thus, my impartiality is completely ruined by, as they say, a pre-existing condition.

I’d come across a review of the Sleaford Mods in Mojo or somewhere and picked up a copy of the singles compilation Chubbed Up + a while back. A couple of things strike even the causal listener: The ferocity and sincerely of Jason Williamson’s delivery, the instantly catchy minimalism of the beats, and boy, that’s a fuck of a lot of swear words. No radio play for these two. When they announced a North American tour, it was something you had to see.

My habit of being late for bands has evolved to checking  Twitter obsessively for set times in order to spend the minimum amount of time standing, and to avoid mediocre opening bands. The opener for the show was Not Of, described on their Bandcamp page as “a noise rock duo,” and after listening to a couple of their songs from their album decided I would go early and have a listen. Not Of’s sound has a lot in common with METZ, but with fewer members and just drums and guitar. It was evident quickly that I’d made the right choice. Not Of delivered a fearsome wall of voice, and apart from the slower songs  which just didn’t do it for me, had me nodding along . And free stickers too.

The Sleaford Mods show was originally scheduled to be at Lee’s Palace, but for some reason unknown to me was moved to the Opera House. The Opera House is a little bigger than Lee’s, and there’s more room on the stage. True, it’s a a little sweatier, but the sight lines are still good, and the sound is clean, So, as much as I love Lee’s, it was no big deal; I’ve seen a lot of great shows there (Mercury Rev and the Fall on separate occasions stand out )

But it is a bigger stage than Lees and given the nature of their stage show, you might wonder if the Mods could fill it. After all, duos are  funny things. Fewer members sometimes means a more efficient, streamlined band, so what to make of Sleaford Mods? Two guys, one who brings a lap top and spends the set chill dancing, and the other who bounces around stage like a possessed Max Wall (that’s meant as a compliment) spitting words at the audience as if his life depended upon it. You’d be wrong if you were worried. These two guys  produced a layered, engaging sound that hooked the audience from the first seconds on the stage. .

The new album English Tapas has garnered impressive reviews, with critics noting a richer sound moving away from the mimimalist electronica of earlier works towards more structured, but no less effective, songs. You might wonder if that would translate to the live show, and it does. Listening to the CD in the car on the way home, I was struck by this evolving sound, but also by how well it was reproduced in the live act. The band played a large chunk of new material as well as favourite “Jolly Fucker”, “TRC,”  “Tweet Tweet Tweet,” and “Tied up in Nottz”

Check out the band’s Twitter feed for fan pictures of the show, but honestly, nothing beat being there.



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