Review: Sleaford Mods at Vicar Street


Close to 1,000 spent their Thursday night at Vicar Street being hypnotised by a 45 year old ex-social welfare adviser repeatedly slapping his own head and unloading half a century of inequality, class division and pure working class rage into a microphone.

Sleaford Mods are perhaps the definition of an acquired taste, and if music is little more than entertainment to you, you won’t appreciate their twisted brilliance. There will always be those who will write the likes of the Mods off as crass and brash gutter men from one of the many drab holes of England’s working class towns, but that’s exactly what makes them such great artists: music that is brutally honest, performed with conviction and symptomatic of the most sickening aspects of 21st century Britain’s three-legged-donkey of a welfare system and the political and class culture that crack the whip.

Here’s a taste: “Boris on a bike, quick, knock the cunt over/The man of the people is now a man with no temples/Blood falls out of his head like policy/In the fucking U-turn department.”

The Nottingham duo of Williamson and Andrew Fearns are touring off the back of their new 5 track EP – their first post-Brexit release. Socio-political commentary over sparse yet inventive beats peppered with post-punk bass lines have been their bread and butter since 2007, and ‘TCR’ carries on the legacy.

The latest release got a full hearing in Dublin with the pantomime show of Fearns bopping along with a smile and pint-in-hand to his laptop’s beats as Williamson abused the microphone so acutely that you could see a constant stream of vapour from his breath rising in the stage light.

Williamson paced back and forth taking swigs from his water bottle with gratitude in between each monolithic verbal takedown, espousing the grit, energy and stage presence that artists half his age can only talk about.

Banter only comes naturally to lads who used to scrape some money out of tossing chicken carcasses in giant freezers and recording their temperatures. Using a lowered microphone stand as a prop, Williamson cut across with, “Ya wanna know what ‘Great Britain’ is these days? Fucking little is what it is! Any of you cunts got a spare passport knockin’ about? I could certainly use one…”

The pair blasted through some of the finest verbal vomits from their repertoire – tracks from ‘Key Markets’, ‘Chubbed Up’ and ‘Austerity Dogs’ all had their moment. Returning for the encore with trademark cheeky grins in tow, the Mods knocked the heads off the crowd with blistering renditions of ‘Jobseeker’ and ‘Tweet, Tweet, Tweet’.

Both tracks are perfect examples of the Mods’ ability to use imagery that would seem like hum-drum bleak despair and churn it out into something that is equal parts hilarious and disturbingly real, relatable and possibly happening to you right now.

Here’s how they left us: “This is the human race/UKIP in your disgrace/Chopped heads on London streets/All you zombies tweet, tweet, tweet”

Barry O’Sullivan

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