Since their 2013 breakthrough release Austerity Dogs the Notts duo of Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn have been pushing their slightly unhinged brand of electronic punk further towards the mainstream consciousness.
Their recent album Eton Alive firmly placed them in view of everybody and while you could never accuse them of ‘toning it down’, the music has diversified to create a more rounded experience.
Williamson’s sprechgesang rants, which reveal the influence of Shaun Ryder, Mark E Smith and Ian Dury, are now interspersed with occasional bouts of something approaching ‘singing’.
On the surface Sleaford Mods are the political reflection of Tory Britain, Brexit and all, but they are a much more complicated act than such a one-dimensional reading.
There’s no message to be had - it’s quite a resigned, embittered outlook on the modern condition. Williamson sings about his life and thus the crowd at the Roadmender broadly understand his outlook. No one here is projecting hipsterism or righteousness.
Williamson has spoken previously about class divide, racism and the fallout from alcoholism.
“It’s not enough anymore to want change, You have to do change, But the only change I like sits in my pocket, I’m a consumer”, is a line from the third song played tonight, Subtraction.
It’s a bleak conclusion to draw. And perversely, we love him for it.
A quick mention of the support act, Manchester trio Liines.
Tight and taut, the post-punk and noise-rock moves would have you compare them to a more focused Sonic Youth. They received an ecstatic crowd reaction that appeared to humble them.
Williamson bounded onstage, looking fitter and healthier than the last time he graced the stage.
“I try to lay off too much cake, Cause my core takes first place” goes opening song Into The Payzone, and he’s not wrong.
The live Sleaford Mods experience is a whirlwind of 18 songs, spat out in quick succession.
The only banter offered from Williamson was random shouts of “Northampton”.
Arguably there’s no need for banter when the lyrics in the songs are a diatribe of pithy one and two-liners.
For the show we got swearing and pacing around the stage from Williamson whose ad-hoc foray into dancing and gesturing ensured he remained the centre of attention.
As per usual, Fearn remained rooted behind his laptop, beer in hand, nodding away.
The set was heavy on the new album and for those of us present who knew the album it was a glorious chance to revel in it, from Kebab Spiders through to closer Discourse.
Old favourites TCR and B.H.S. received a warm welcome and everyone went home satisfied.
For those who don’t mind their cynicism with dance-friendly beats this was a corking night of entertainment.
Sleaford Mods played:
Into the Payzone
Stick In A Five And Go
Top It Up
Just Like We Do
Bang Someone Out
Tied Up In Nottz
Tarantula Deadly Cargo