I Am Lono / Sleaford Mods – Nottingham Rescue Rooms, Tuesday February 26
This review originally appeared in the Nottingham Post.
If Arthur Seaton had grown up listening to Mark E. Smith and John Cooper Clarke, maybe he could have fronted a band like Sleaford Mods. Then again, there’s never been a front man quite like Jason Williamson: scathing and surreal, funny and furious, with a stage manner that combines bitter, eye-popping outrage and casual, hand-in-pocket indifference. Behind him, Andrew Fearn confines himself to pressing Start and Stop on the laptop, and supping from a can of Red Stripe. You could call it Performance Art, but they probably wouldn’t thank you for it. They might have you believe that the music was cobbled together in five minutes, but Jason’s razor-sharp timing and faultless delivery suggests quite the opposite. “Boris Johnson and The Cheeky Girls shut down the underground!” he rages, with absolute conviction. For a moment or two, you find yourself in full agreement.
By the time that I Am Lono take to the stage, the upstairs space at the Rescue Rooms is jammed to capacity. They have a single to launch, and this is their biggest show to date. Behind them, live visuals are mixed from the back of the room by the Kneel Before Zod Video Club. There are clips from slasher movies and fantasy animations, and archive footage from the Soviet Union. During one track, a variety of items are fed into an industrial shredder: trainers, lemons, female sanitary products and cans of Pepsi.
Like Sleaford Mods, I Am Lono are an electronic duo, but there the comparisons end. Their songs are dark and introspective, informed by paranoia and claustrophobia, and yet their live sound opens up magnificently, drawing you into their world. David Startin’s guitar adds thrashy textures to Matthew Cooper’s keyboards, programmed beats and doom-laden vocals, evoking comparisons with late Seventies pioneers such as Suicide and Cabaret Voltaire. The set builds in intensity, from the four-to-the-floor throb of Leland (the A-side of the new single) to the climactic set closer, Why Everything Is Made Of Fives, proving that paranoia and claustrophobia can be curiously uplifting as well.