Sleaford Mods - The Irish Center, Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Sleaford Mods - The Irish Center, Leeds

by Andy Brown Rating:10 Release Date:2011-10-26

You can’t really look anywhere at the moment without reading something about Nottingham’s angriest duo, Sleaford Mods. After an impressive and confident set at this year’s Glastonbury, the duo went on to release their highly praised and typically uncompromising new album, Key Markets; it’s very clear that the Mods are a band on the way up.

Who would have thought that a sound consisting of laptop beats and angry, foul-mouthed tirades would have proved so popular? Yet Sleaford Mods have undoubtedly hit a nerve with many listeners. After managing to miss the band twice before, tonight would be my chance to see what all the fuss was about first hand.

Before tonight’s headliners we’re treated to two support acts, the first of which is York based prankster Mark Wynn. It would be a fair assessment to describe Wynn as something of an eccentric, his set sitting somewhere between a bizarre comedy routine and the unfiltered ramblings of a nutter on the bus.

Wynn is accompanied by a laptop that plays snippets of him performing songs while he struts around the stage, topless and wearing a tiara. At times Wynn is singing along with his pre-recoded self and the whole thing comes across as some kind of strange, punk rock karaoke. At one point Wynn is crawling along the floor in front of the stage singing something about sausages and for some reason it’s utterly, utterly brilliant.

I had already spotted a few crust-punk types in the audience, which made complete sense with the arrival of Crass legend and all round fountain of anger, Steve Ignorant.  Steve Ignorant’s Slice of Life see’s Ignorant adopt a very different musical style from his days in Crass and Conflict as he is joined on stage by an acoustic guitar player, bassist and pianist. One thing that clearly hasn’t changed is Ignorant’s passion, his voice booming over the gentle instrumentation as he puts the world to rights on everything from politicians to animal rights.

The message is often relatively straight-forward, Ignorant is pleading for a world with more compassion, more love. It’s a powerful sight to see Ignorant so exposed, the acoustic back-drop meaning his message is heard loud and clear. For all of Ignorant’s anger (and believe me, he sounds absolutely livid) the performance proves to be both cathartic and uplifting. When the show’s over a fan in the audience shouts for Steve’s attention and asks, “Steve, are you still banned from the Roxy?” Ignorant grins and tells him that he thought The Roxy had closed down. Steve Ignorant, however, is still going strong.

Sleaford Mods have been on stage for all of three minutes before a couple of guys in the audience are being ejected by the bouncers. Things are about to get a little hairy. I’d seen plenty of footage of the Mods on TV yet it really is something else to stand quite so close, Jason Williamson snarling through each lyric as Andrew Fearn nods happily along, beer in hand. It’s a juxtaposition that works particularly well and makes the minimal set up on stage all the more hypnotic.

I seem to be stood pretty close to the speaker on the right of the stage and Fearn’s repetitive, head-nodding beats burrow into my head and rattle my fragile, Monday night brain into wide-eyed alertness. It’s exhilarating from the get-go and when I scan the audience it’s hard not to spot the smiles and looks of excitement on people’s faces.

Tracks from the new album fit seamlessly with the older material and you realise that despite the apparent lack of variation (each song consisting of a beat and a rant), the Mods have an impressive arsenal of tunes at their disposal. Fan favourites such as ‘Jobseeker’ are greeted with the cheers of approval you’d expect while the likes of ‘Face to Faces’ and ‘No One’s Bothered’ show a band (if you can call them a ‘band’?) on the top of their game.

The intensity doesn’t let up as the show rattles on, but there’s always room for a little humour. Williamson adds a few lines from Queen’s ‘I Want to Break Free’ into one song and later add-libs some genital based poetry as a fan gets on stage and, erm, exposes himself. People are pretty excited to be here and much to the bouncer’s dismay there’s someone stage diving or dancing on the stage at fairly regular intervals.

As the show comes to an end Williamson screams “we love you Leeds!” and for once it doesn’t seem like someone simply ticking a box, something special happened here, a genuine connection between band and audience. And, simply put, that’s a sign of a job well done. 

It’s only a few days later when I hear that Sleaford Mods are due to appear on Later with Jools Holland and I wonder quite how they’re going to translate all that chaos and fun into a TV studio setting. And I wonder how they’ll get around all the fucking swearing. 

Comments (4)

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I love the track "Giddy on the Ciggies". They really settle into a great groove.

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I think they are brilliant. Their lyrics are fantastic. Top Review Andrew

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Thanks! Yeah, the lyrics are pretty top notch and the tunes are addictive

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Yes, they played that one. Love music that finds it's groove and stays there a while, repetition is everything!

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