Live Review: Sleaford Mods @ The Roundhouse, London 10 Nov 2016

sleaford mods

New EP T.C.R. out now via Rough Trade.

That familiar pre-gig feeling of anxious anticipation permeated the air of the Roundhouse as a packed crowd waited with baited breath for Sleaford Mods to take to the stage. As the Nottingham duo’s popularity steadily increases and the venues they play to cater to their growing audience gets bigger and bigger, I can’t help wondering just how they’d cope. After all, this is a two piece band armed with only a microphone and laptop, so filling a room as big as the Roundhouse with just infectious bass-heavy loops and frantic working class rants could be quite a tall order.

However, within a minute of their opening number ‘I Can Tell’ taken from their latest E.P, ‘T.C.R.’ I soon realised that if they had even an inch more of sound or energy, the Roundhouse would readily explode, leaving behind nothing but a heaving mosh pit pogoing in a sea of debris.

The crowd knows every word of this relatively new single and scream the catchy hook back at frontman Jason Williamson, trying their best to match his sheer ferocity to no avail.
Williamson stalks the stage like a man possessed, and it’s hard to take your eyes off him as he dances in a way that only he can, in-between shaking the very foundation of the Roundhouse with a vocal that cuts right through you like shards of a pint glass.

His partner in crime, the permanently smiling Andrew Fearn, moves on the spot only stopping to press a button on his laptop to play the next track. This may seem like a minor role but when each click of his trusty space bar is closely followed by a powerhouse of an instrumental you quickly forget that it’s all down to the push of a button all the while mystified at how just two men can create such a huge sound.

Not satisfied with being a band that simply “plays the hits” Sleaford Mods play a host of new material that easily sits alongside set-staples, further proof that they are continually improving as a band. Their latest single, ‘T.C.R’ gets such a rapturous response it feels as if they have been playing it for years, while three brand new tracks are the most inventive, melodious and angry of the set which is great news for fans anticipating their next album slated for 2017.

One of the most striking aspects of watching Sleaford Mods, other than the way in which they maintain such a constant level of intensity, is just how well their records translate to a live performance. Tracks like ‘Fizzy,’ a seething rant on 9-5 working life, is pushed to its absolute limits by Williamson, who squeezes out every last drop of venom as he repeatedly screams “sack the manager” into the microphone. ‘Giddy On The Ciggies’ also takes on a new life when performed live, filling the room with a pure and unfiltered rage.

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Still yet to play classics such as ‘McFlurry’ and ‘Jobseeker’ they end their set with another new song. “I think we’ve done a good night’s work,” says Williamson “This is our last song, it’s called BHS.” If anyone in the crowd was upset about not ending the night on a familiar tune, that worry was soon swept away as Sleaford Mods launched into one of the best songs of the night. And with lyrics such as “We’re going down like BHS, while the able-bodied vultures monitor and pick at us” it’s sure to be a future fan favourite.

Before beginning their encore they touchingly thank the crowd: “London, you didn’t come to see us, we came to see you.” And as if to appease the small contingent of fans who would have been disappointed without hearing something familiar, they gift the Roundhouse audience with a triple bill of classics (‘Jobseeker,’ ‘Tied Up In Nottz’ ‘Tweet Tweet Tweet’). The crowd responds in kind, promptly going ape-shit for ten straight minutes before the house lights go up and the band ends the night for the last time.

I leave the Roundhouse feeling that I have seen one of the best and most important bands in Britain at the top of their game. And while it may be too early to say they have reached any sort of peak, one thing is startlingly clear; they are head and shoulders above everyone else, armed with only a microphone and a laptop.

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