Photo: Kev Howard

It was International Women’s Day and Liines were doing themselves proud to a big crowd, who quickly warm to this 3 piece from Manchester and for good reason. There’s a non pretentious style & substance to this band, all in black, cool light blue Telecaster and 2 tone bass, but it’s in their sound that the band impress. Playing tracks from their debut LP Stop – Start this is rhythmic repetitious post – punk with bang on melodies that yes, does display influences from Joy Division & The Fall and so what? A band to watch and see live.

Andrew Fearn is first to come on, plug in his laptop to good applause, he raises his bottle of beer and childlike court jester smile in preparation to dance his way through the set list like some second rate Happy Monday’s Bez, stopping only to press play on the next track.

Sleaford ModsSleaford Mods Into the Payzone, from 5th LP Eton Alive begins, as does front man Jason Williamson. He’s dressed in all black no frills joggers & t-shirt, it’s a macho gym work out for him as he throws out the energy and sweat. He’s a very capable front man, he does well to remember his incredibly detailed lyrics. The problem for me is that he rarely engages with the 1000 strong crowd in song or between them. He does ask mid – set ‘are you enjoying it?’ & gets a reasonable response, but for me his whole act is made for an audience engagement that sadly isn’t there.

I’ve now listened to this LP 5 times (including this ‘live’ version) and I know the band are pissed off with the system, and for good reason, I’m just not quite sure what about exactly?

There are slower tracks on this release and an attempt to sing from Williamson and so for me, it would have been a no brainer to bring in some musicians.  The excellent Discourse that finishes the gig sounds like full band in the best sped up Ian Dury style with eyes closed, but ultimately it’s a bromance between 1 man & his mic stand plus a lap top. What would happen if the lap top stopped working?

I completely get the appeal of Sleaford Mods, it’s punk hip-hop for pissed off middle-aged men (of which I am one) with a bit more street cred than Jeremy Clarkson and it works well on radio, but to an audience of 1000 each paying £20, Sleaford Mods feels like very expensive karaoke.

Sleaford Mods & Liines appeared at Middlesbrough Town Hall, 8th March 2019

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