NICE TO SEE YER! – Sleaford Mods Tie The O2 Academy Brixton Up In Nottz

For some the thought of spending 90 minutes in the company of two middle-aged blokes, armed only with a laptop and a microphone, would be about as appetising as an office team-bonding session on a wet weekend in Nantwich.

But Sleaford Mods are no ordinary middle-aged blokes.

Ten years into a prolific career, the duo – Jason Williamson and beat-maker Andrew Fearn – are something of a phenomenon, providing an alternative expletive-ridden commentary on modern Britain’s failings and frustrations.

After a brief Brucie-style welcome of “Nice to see yer,”  they launch into the darkly humorous Army Nights, from latest long player English Tapas.

It takes them a while to get properly into their stride, Williamson twice rightly chastising the guys on the missing desk for an over preponderance of bass.

But once the sound is sorted, it soon becomes clear just what all the fuss is about.

Fearn’s stripped back beats mirror the fitful, restless urgency of the lyrics, while Williamson is never less than mesmerising.

His body in constant motion, the vocalist is a hive of nervous tension and pent-up rage, an array of tics and mannerisms, commanding your attention.

Hunched over the mic John Lydon-style, he often seems to be swatting  at an imaginary wasp buzzing around his ear.

As each song starts, he becomes consumed by his own characters, delivering his lines with total conviction.

He doesn’t sugar coat or pander to any particular generation – the ‘pretentious little bastard on social medias’ rubbing shoulders with Ena Sharples and vampiric snooker champ Ray Reardon in his scattergun wordplay.

The anger is real and ferocious, but Williamson is too sharp a lyricist to simply bludgeon an audience into submission.

Acid humour punctuates the stream of invective, making you stop and think all the more about what he’s saying.

He’s funny off the cuff too, taking the venue to task for not having a long enough microphone lead: “That’s just not good enough for the best focking band in England,” he retorts, tongue at least partly in cheek.

Songs rattle past at a furious rate, Jolly FuckerTCRJob Seeker and a magnificent Tarantula Deadly Cargo among them.

Warming to his task, Williamson senses a real connection with the crowd, pointing out that this is probably the band’s best ever London show.

And while not exactly a honey-voiced crooner, he proves he can definitely hold a tune.

There are shades of the wit and wisdom of Ian Dury and John Cooper Clarke about Williamson, but essentially he’s is a one-off, a true original.

“Punk’s not dead,” he remarks with a sneer on Just Like We Do.

With Sleaford Mods around it might just be shocked into a revival.

The best focking band in England?

I wouldn’t bet against them.

About the author

Full time journalist, music lover (obvs) and truly terrible guitarist. You can find Matt on twitter @matcatch

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