Sleeper: Kentish Town Forum, London

When Sleeper reformed, it was always going to be fun for everyone to take a trip down memory lane. They’re one of the greats of their era. When they announced a new album, the nerves jangled more, then ‘The Modern Age’ came out and rivals, if not surpasses anything they’ve ever done. So, could they bring the new album to life live? You bet your Saturday hairdo they could!

When a band is tagged to a scene such as Sleeper were to Britpop, there is a danger the energy of those songs can fade. It can never be the same again right? No one told Jon Stewart. His playing is bolder on ‘Statuesque’ and more aggressive on ‘Delicious’ than ever before.

Some bands are about the collective, and some, however humbly they deny it, are about the front person. Sleeper are that band and Louise Wener is said icon. Daenerys Targaryen has nothing on Wener. Her vocals on ‘What Do I Do Now’ transport everyone back to the heartache of teenage years. However, it’s on the new material she really comes alive. As the trippy guitars WHAT SONG revolve around north London, Wener subtly deploys her knowing and sexy vocals to crushing effect. No one is left in any doubt just how fucked up the times we live in by the end.

Too many bands deliberately deploy a dip, in order to bring the crowd back up. Frankly, it’s annoying! Sleeper seem fully aware, there just simply isn’t any let up. The crowd is fully on board with the new material, no time for piss breaks! When they deployed multiple disco balls during ‘Atomic’/’Love Will Tear Us Apart’, cystitis seemed worth risking to be honest.

As they closed the night out with the classic ‘Sale Of The Century’, an air of desperation arises. The dawning realisation that they might disappear for another 22 years led to everyone’s soul being laid bare in the Forum.

If that’s all she wrote for Sleeper, it was even more joyous second time round!

Our 8th birthday party is Friday 2nd August at the New Cross Inn. Click the image below for tickets:

Sleeper - The Modern Age

When Sleeper bowed out in 1998, it was with huge amount of integrity and credibility. Feeling the creative well had dried up, and not willing to flog a dead horse, they said an emotional farewell at Brixton Academy.

However, with the kids reaching their teens, and the loss of someone close to front-woman Louise Wener, the itch to take risks came to the fore. Calling in their unofficial member Stephen Street to helm the studio once more, they set off to Metway Studios. Would they roll a 6?

Despite fan affection for their third album ‘Pleased To Meet You’, their ability to be musically and lyrically incisive as they were on the classics ‘The IT Girl’ and ‘Smart’ was fading.  ‘The Modern Age’ however, sees Wener rediscover her razor sharp observations. ‘Look At You Now’, neatly signifies the times and their lack of reason “I hear your anger and howls of hate / With so little reason wit so little faith”.

Musically, there is much to cling to for long-time fans. Jon Stewart has found his inner Graham Coxon on opener ‘Paradise Waiting’ and ‘Cellophane’ and, on ‘Blue Like You’, there is an element of Teenage Fanclub glorious rumbling away. It’s the introduction of synths and psyche at various points which keeps everything fresh. The production on ‘Look At You Now’ adds a devilment to this sexy Pixies-esque anthem.

The real progress though, is made on ‘The Sun Also Rises’ and title track ‘The Modern Age’. The former, adopts the swirling spirit of Reverend and The Makers ‘Silence Is Talking’. As the cheery haziness unfurls, a new Sleeper is born. A sexier, wiser and more psychedelic Sleeper!

On the title track, Wener takes her song writing to the next level. She always had Weller and Davies’ ability to create uniquely British characters. This is on display yet again but, here, the emotion is ramped up to the max. Seemingly about the close friend she lost, an aching beauty unfolds as our fleeting existence materialises. The inner torment this must’ve taken to convey so elegantly and, in such a happy sounding song is reminder of music’s power. Listen to this song a 100 times, you’ll feel something different every time.

At every turn on ‘The Modern Age’, Sleeper have added something to their armoury. The guitars are beefier, the synths crisp and the psyche new. For all the charm they carried in the 90s, they are no-one’s understudy’s anymore. This feels like the record they were born to make.