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Sleaford Mods - Manchester Academy: The view from Far Out

Last year we put together a feature hailing the fact that (at the time) the only band to really have anything relevant to say about Great Britain were finally gaining some mainstream recognition.

And since then, the crowds have continued to swell for Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn of Seaford Mods.

What started as an assault of politically poignant performance poetry set to a beat-heavy backing has, well, not changed at all really. It’s miraculous that such a minimal set-up can straddle genres and connect different strains of music fans, and even more amazing that it can electrify a venue the size of Manchester Academy with just a laptop, a mic and the frantic whit of Williamson.

More recent releases have included backing tracks that sound as if they could be easily recreated by a live band, but the idea has never even been close to being entertained by the duo – and tonight’s set is all the more raw for it.

Sleaford Mods are a world away from the ethereal and distorted messages that come from the suffocated vocals of many an indie band at the moment. Instead, their approach is truly refreshing. Fearn simply head-nods and jerks around with a beer in his hand, feet away from his computer, distancing himself from any facade that he is actually doing anything in a live performance sense.

This leaves all the attention to focus on the quickfire narrative that comes from Williamson, snarling and growling his way through an hour-long set that marries the kindred anarchic spirits of punk and hip-hop in a way we’ve never really seen before.

Latest EP TCR appears to already be a crowd favourite, with the title track and the early unveiling of ‘I Can Tell’ getting huge responses.

The punk ethic also oozes from the band’s interludes. They’re short, sharp bursts of social commentary that give you little time to reflect before moving on. The same framework could be applied to crowd participation too, with Williamson not saying much beyond “this is a big old place”, “having fun?” and “thanks for coming out”. But when being presented with a musical offering so rich and direct in lyrical communication, who cares about the inane chat?

It would appear encores come as standard for Seaford Mods nowadays, and after bringing the main set to an end with their venomous yet typically wry assessment of Philip Green and BHS, it’s only a matter of seconds before they return.

The drum ‘n’ bass-infused ‘Jobseeker’ has the excitable audience bouncing from the ceiling, but the difference is that this is euphoria with an undeniably down to earth point to it. Sit up and listen.