One of the musical acts I’ve been into for a couple years now is Sleaford Mods, an inventive duo out of England. Stripped down, it’s observational punk hip-hop with frontman Jason Williamson spouting off about working class struggles with a mixture of humor, anger and disbelief backed by the laptop created beats from Andrew Fearn. It’s brilliant. Iggy Pop himself has dubbed them, “The world’s greatest rock and roll band.”
I caught Sleaford Mods at Iceland Airwaves 2015, and despite the guys themselves being unhappy with the gig for a variety of reasons, it was one of the best times I’ve had at the festival since I started going each year.
Afterward, I got the chance to meet and talk with Fearn, who immediately enthused how my mate and I Rich were “havin’ it.” We were right up front, bouncing about and I, for one, was yelling out the lyrics to every song and Fearn was as entertained by us as we were by him.
Following a whirlwind weekend where I flew out to Chicago for this year’s edition of Riot Fest to catch a reunion by the Misfits with Glenn Danzig, Social Distortion do their album White Light, White Heat, White Trash in full and a slew of other acts over a three-day period, I made a quick pit-stop in Philadelphia to visit with friends one night and witness what might very well be the final performance of AC/DC – ever – the following at the city’s Wells Fargo Center.
I had seen the band a few times before, but things have been pretty upside down in their world over the past year or so, culminating this past April when singer Brian Johnson had to abruptly leave the road or face total hearing loss. Dates were postponed on the lucrative Rock or Bust world tour, but the show went on with yet another singer, the incredibly unlikely choice of Axl Rose from Guns N’ Roses.
Honestly, as notoriously prickly as Rose can be – especially in a live setting – I’d never, ever dreamed I’d get to shoot him live. But, like I said, the unlikely has happened quite a bit lately surrounding him. Even his harshest critics have begrudgingly praised how he seamlessly stepped in and saved the AC/DC tour, and I for one hope they continue on in some form. Whether it’s taking a risk on new material or just touring every few years, there’s an undeniable chemistry between the singer and guitarist Angus Young.
Plus, not too many hardcore fans were complaining about long forgotten chestnuts like “Live Wire,” “Riff Raff” and – in Philadelphia – “Problem Child” getting pulled out of the treasure chest.