After the critically (and in relative terms commercially) acclaimed release of their latest record English Tapas earlier this year, it was high time for Far Out to get back out there and see what the most important band in the UK right now have to offer on the live circuit.
Whether it’s their assault on podge-faced BHS plunderer Philip Green, or their visceral appraisal of the ‘zombie’ state that Twitter has plunged the modern world into, Sleaford Mods frontman Jason Williamson must simply be considered as the most forthright social commentator on the post-Brexit dithering we all find ourselves trapped within – at least from the music world anyway.
Simultaneously, a greater amount of mainstream attention seems to have come the duo’s way over the last couple of years (coinciding with the cementing of the Tories’ reign and the aforementioned nation-splitting referendum), manifesting itself with festival headline shows, a support slot with The Stone Roses at Wembley Stadium, and of course that Glastonbury introduction from Lord Buckethead.
With this, inevitably comes a wider reach of fan, and the odd bandwagon enthusiast who Williamson and comrade Andrew Fearn must have had the odd reservation about.
Tonight in Sheffield, there are one or two examples of people who have very much missed the point. First, the racist who jokes about “any pakis” in attendance getting shot on sight, and secondly (obviously on a far less concerning level) the gig-goer behind us who constantly exclaims how glad he is that the laptop is present so he “can have a dance”.
Pre-gig gripes aside, however, we’re there to take in the show and what we witness is a band who are managing to scale the heights of mainstream notoriety without threatening even an ounce of their trademark uncompromising nature.
There’s an unwavering confidence in the new record from the outset, with ‘I Feel So Wrong’ and ‘Army Nights’ marking an opening portion of the set completely made up of tracks from English Tapas.
It’s quite a feat to be able to marry the visceral energy surrounding some of the pretty grim issues that Williamson explores with a kind of humour and wry wit that keeps everyone on side – but tonight (as has been the case each time we’ve caught them to be honest) it’s done with consummate ease.
The quick dip into last year’s TCR EP gets the crowd bouncing with the title track’s ear-worm of a loop and the hypnotic bass of ‘I Can Tell’, before modern classic ‘Jolly Fucker’ provides a guaranteed highlight.
With greater notoriety also comes the sometimes tricky thirst for an encore, and it seems on this tour Williamson and Fearn insist on going out on a crescendo, with ‘Jobseeker’, ‘Tied Up in Nottz’ and ‘Tweet Tweet Tweet’. It’s been a night as thought-provoking as it has been euphoric, exactly what we’ve come to expect from the powerhouse that is Sleaford Mods. And they ain’t slowing down any time soon.