Having first encountered the unique Sleaford Mods live experience last summer at the (tragically no more) Beacons Festival, their wildly original and truly memorable set clearly resonated with an audience keen to sample one of the cutting edge acts of the 2014 UK music scene. What was even more pleasantly surprising after the show was having (very) briefly congratulated them on a cracking performance, the pair responded with genuine gratitude and humility, in stark contrast to the bristling menace of their stage persona…gentlemen as well as scholars.
Fast forward 9 months and frontman Jason Williamson, ably backed up by his partner in crime, backing track manager and beer swigger-in-chief Andrew Fearn, have emerged from a sea of cult bands to become one of our nation’s premier underground live draws, aided in no small way by a collaboration with the Prodigy on their comeback single “Ibiza” with SM album number three ‘Key Markets’ also due to hit the shelves in July. Not surprisingly, everyone’s favourite Leeds venue is crammed to the rafters, in fact, I’ve never seen the place so full and considering how this little Hyde Park venue continues to punch well above its weight in terms of attracting stellar live music acts, that’s really saying something.
So, why all the fuss? Perhaps it’s partly down to the uncompromising stripped back delivery, the ‘fuck-you’ attitude combined with a liberal sprinkling of obscenities. However if you dig below the surface of the Tourette’s-infused vocal, the DIY tattoos and the estate pub backing tracks, you discover an erudite yet withering snapshot of 21st century downtrodden Britain, painting similar pictures of (not so) quiet desperation, continuing where illustrious home-grown predecessors starting with The Kinks, and most recently The Streets left off. What’s also remarkable is the fact that these guys are not kids, both are in their forties, the name-checking of Tiswas proving that fact.
Taking to the stage to a warm applause, the duo start things off with ‘Bunch of Cunts’ a track that would go down a storm on an X-Factor audition. Each subsequent number follows in conveyor belt fashion, every one roughly two-and–a-bit minutes of Jason screaming into the microphone with the intensity of Henry Rollins, as Andrew stands, bottle of lager in hand, grinning inanely, perhaps thinking to himself ‘This is a Piece of Piss’ having once more pressed the play button on the laptop, his work done for the next three minutes. We get all the favourites including ‘Middle Men’, ‘Jolly Fucker’, ‘McFlurry’ and the terrific, ‘Jobseeker’ where our hero hilariously confesses to the unfortunate pen pusher at the dole office to spending all his free time between signings-on wanking….brilliant! ‘Tied up in Nottz’ and the aforementioned ‘Tiswas’ follow soon after, as well as new album track ‘No One’s Bothered’ before the main set ends with the diatribe aimed at zero-hours Britain ‘The Wage Don’t Fit’.
The lads are back to do three more for the encore and then they vamoose after barely an hour although it seems like longer when you look at the state of Jason at the end, clearly putting every last bit of energy into his vitriolic delivery throughout.
Music for the jilted generation.