Overheard in Sheffield: (in a sea of bald and lairy middle-aged men) ‘How the f*ck do you make a whole set out of this?’ This question could be raised on many lips when first approaching Sleaford Mods, a dynamic punk duo from Nottingham playing one laptop to accompany a lone vocal.
The fans may have faces like slapped arses but the energy generated in the O2 Academy is powerful. Decade long devotees chuckle knowingly and chant along to Jason Williamson’s abrasive lyrics. Most songs sound like explicit covers of ‘Parklife’, but when every line relates to typically British life, each word has a resonance, especially to an indigenous audience.
The steady beats aren’t especially intricate and they’re not wildly exciting, but bass riffs create a platform for the intelligent spiel Williamson spits. Despite most of the vocal being rapped, in the brief interludes of singing, it’s clear he has a powerful and well-trained voice. His persona is theatrical, in his strong stance and unique movement on stage. With a convulsing body, it appears as if every muscle is tensed as he belts into the mic. His performance is thought-provoking to say the least.
Although all eyes are on Williamson, laptop engineer Andrew Fearn calmly nods along while triggering the recorded layers of instrumentation. He gets a shout out and acknowledges the crowd with a peace sign, receiving a bellowing response.
Alike to The Streets, Sleaford Mods captivate listeners with important societal issues which are raised in amusing and clever methods. Ultimate UK references such as ‘They call me Dyson / I fucking clean up’ and ‘Let’s spend another hundred quid on getting out of our trees’ are contained in the verses with catchy and repetitive choruses. Drawing attention to relevant topics of today ‘Just Like We Do’ abuses ‘pretentious little bastard on social medias’. My personal favourite is ‘Carlton Tout’ which features ‘You can’t blame her / when the future is a flag pissed on / and a king-sized bag of Quavers’.
The biggest uproars are ‘TCR’; every lad is jumping, shouting ‘TOTAL CONTROL RACING!’ and during the encore of ‘Tied Up In Notts’; Williamson yells; ‘YOU’RE ALL FIT AS F*CK!’ Expletives are entertaining and there’s a skin full in a Sleaford Mods set.
It’s the kind of music you can’t listen to for the whole of a three-hour car journey, but performed live, it’s hard to tear away. How do they make a whole set out of this? The answer is, using political narrative while swearing like a trooper and using body language so extreme it’s impossible not to watch. If you haven’t checked out Sleaford Mods, you bloody well should.