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Sleaford Mods at Stylus | Live Review

On the back of their critically acclaimed recent album Eton Alive; eternally furious duo, Sleaford Mods brought their captivating live show to a sold-out Leeds Stylus.

Existing in a middle ground between Britpop, Electronica and Anarcho-punk, the rough and unpolished music of Sleaford Mods resonates hugely amongst a section of society; I overheard the band described as “always putting in “a good shift”, a description that attests to the devotion the band inspire amongst working class punks.

The definingly middle-aged crowd - seemingly all sporting the exact Liam Gallagher inspired sideburn and fringe combination - climbing on shoulders at the front, whilst those at the back of the rammed venue abandoned catching a glimpse of the stage and instead danced wildly in front of the fire exits. A scene like Richard Ashcroft’s Lord of the Flies; chanting along to anti-austerity anthems; driven by the pulsating, repetitive production of Andrew Fearn; whilst frontman Jason Williamson embodies an assortment of working class caricatures and scathing perspectives.

Williamson commands a stage like few others can, exaggeration to the point of campiness, embracing a multitude of characters as he embodies a different personality with each barked lyric. The mannerisms of the jobseeking alcoholic become the jobsworth clerk the next, pacing the stage back and forth; fidgeting, tweaking and contorting along delivering a stream of consciousness fountain of vitriol and bleak reality.

All to the approval of Fearn, who rather than engaging in live performance himself, chooses to press play on his laptop and appreciate the show, head bobbing and bottle swigging like a sentient metronome.

But there's an honesty in his portrayal. It’s exaggerated and abrasive, yet feels overwhelmingly real. A crowd chanting to Jobcentre memories, depression-focused anecdotes with a memorial recital rather than a fictitious narrative.

The cult, diehard, following the band have amassed seem deserving. A bloke approached me to chat in the smoking area, starting a conversation with no intention other than to tell me he’d seen the band live 8 times, wearing the number like a badge of honour.

Archie Whincup

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