If the crowd in unison are snarling back the words “Skunk? I’ve got to be drunk to smoke that shit you c*nt”, there’s only one band that could be on stage, Nottingham duo Sleaford Mods. They bought their unique hybrid sound, sitting somewhere between The Fall and Public Enemy (yet somehow nowhere near either) to Manchester’s Academy on Thursday.
Right from the off this the kind of performance will have become all so familiar with since their rise to the public eye with their landmark album, Divide And Exit. The words of Sleaford Mods come from Jason Williamson, and he is in great form. They push into ‘I Can Tell’ from new EP, TCR, which in typical Sleaford live form is littered with strange slurs and slurps. For a while he also persists with releasing a sheep style “Baaa” after every line. Why? Nobody knows. But for some reason it’s not only acceptable but hilariously adds to the experience.
It is noticeable that the average age at these gigs is slowly coming down, and this is undeniably one of the best crowds I have seen for a Sleaford Mods performance. Far from the usual agreeing nodding from the crowd, Jason and Andrews watch over a crowd straggled with pits more fitting to their style. At times this spills closer to violent, but front man Jason half sarcastically enquires, “Are we all okay now? Is it sorted?” as he finishes up a belting rendition of ‘Fizzy’.
Notably they exclude favourites ‘Tiswas’ and ‘No One’s Bothered’ from the set, but the new tunes coming in to replace them are received with open arms from the onlookers. “We’re going down like BHS!” belts out Jason repeatedly, broken only by his best attempt at football terrace classic “You fat bastard”. This was possibly aimed at BHS downfall supervisor Phillip Green, but then again who knows what’s going on in any of the lyrics?
They re-emerge for their three song encore that really is to cover all bases. ‘Jobseeker’ first has the crowd in almost delirium, providing a great backdrop for the filth of shit flinging track ‘Tied Up In Nottz’, which is next up. No matter how many times you see them it is still strange to see a crowd which contains lots of well dressed forty something’s shouting the “c*nt” back at a band so many times in such a short space of time.
It’s bought to a head with closing track ‘Tweet Tweet’, perhaps the most complete track from Divide And Exit. UKIP, the night bus, the council and much more in between are attacked, whilst Jason occasionally throws in a sneering “Fuck England!”. Many may have come across this music and dismissed it as drivel, but it has real substance and truth at its core, that’s what comes across so pungently in their performances. Long live Sleaford Mods.