Nobody quite does it like Sleaford Mods. From the bare bones, raw musical set up from Andrew Fearn to the inch-perfect lyrical delivery from Jason Williamson, there’s a certain uniqueness about their running commentary on the state of broken Brexit Britain, and their gig at the O2 Institue in Birmingham on Thursday proves that they are indeed, in Jason’s own words, our “loyal public servants”.
You could have easily told me that the gig had been cancelled, due to the fact the stage was completely empty, bar a microphone and a box. But the eruption from the crowd as Andrew Fearn came on stage to place his trusty laptop down showed that it was on like Donkey Kong. No pomp, no circumstance, just one man tending to the laptop, beer in hand, whilst another man delivered his sermons with the same rage and venom as always.
English Tapas felt like an evolution from Sleaford Mods, it kept the same dancey beats, simple yet effective production and enraged rants that make them so likeable, but it just felt they’d moved up a level. Shortly after appearing on stage, there was no real fanfare as Jason Williamson jumped into I Feel So Wrong, sounding inch perfect, clutching the mic as he channelled all his energy into his performance. Seriously, at some points, you could see his entire body tense as he laced every word in copious amounts of venom.
The setlist was quite literally a tapas of English Tapas, with Army Nights, Just Like We Do, Snout, Moptop, Dull and Carlton Touts being delivered one after another, sounding as crisp and brilliant as they do on the record. I think it’s the fact that there’s no posing as well that makes them so likeable. Andrew could probably have some sort of flash set up, but instead, he stands with his trusty laptop, dropping each beat and grinning his face off, beer in hand. Jason could probably wear some kind of suit, but instead, he comes out in trackies & a t-shirt, because face it, you’re going to get the same songs anyway. There’s no bullshit, pretending or overblown production, just the choice cuts, delivered raw.
I’ll give you a quick intermission to tell you how much I enjoyed one of the supports, Nachtexenpunx, who are a disco-punk? Electro-punk? Disco electro punk? Something along those lines, singing about lad culture, social anxiety amongst other things whilst the vocalist, sipped on a can of Dark Fruits between songs. Find me a more relevant band in 2017, I dare you. But they were great. Highly recommend them, but I’m sure you’ll hear them sooner or later.
Thankfully, they dropped in Jolly Fucker after T.C.R & I Can Tell, because everyone around me wouldn’t stop shouting ‘Jolly Fucker‘ and ‘Jobseeker‘. Whether or not they were asking for those specific songs or just trying to heckle is still unsure, but thankfully, both those songs were played. They’re brilliant songs, but when someone’s been shouting them in your ear for close to 40 minutes, you’re just thankful that they got played.
Dropping a few more off English Tapas including the weird and wacky Drayton Manored and the amazing B.H.S, a clear dig at fatcats like Philip Green, the Mods came back on for an encore. Usually it’s eight minutes long, but Jason made sure it was seven minutes, because some of us had trains to get. Fan service at its finest, and I bet you we all got home safe and sound.
Rounding off the show with Jobseeker, Tied Up in Nottz and Tweet Tweet Tweet, there was rapturous applause from the audience. Some people like to scoff whenever Sleaford Mods are brought up because oh it’s so funny that they’ve got a song called Jolly Fucker and the guy just stands there with a beer, but everyone inside that room knew it’s more than that. They hold a cracked mirror to the face of Broken Britain and provide a running commentary on the state of the nation. Now, more than ever, we need Sleaford Mods to narrate our slow descent into the fires of hell.