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Live Review: Sleaford Mods @ the Beat-Herder Festival (15/07/2017)

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Sleaford Mods’ front man Jason Williamson sounded characteristically and bitterly angry when he stepped out onto the Beat-Herder stage, by the end of the performance the crowd were left with the feeling that this might have been one of his mellower days…

Jason and beat-maker accomplice, Andrew Fearn defiantly owned the day. Following on from hip hop legends The Sugarhill Gang, party vibes to austerity fuelled anger was a bit of a leap.

(Photo by: James Cray https://www.jamescray.co.uk/ | © 2018 Duke Studios http://www.duke-studios.com/)

That said, it was very much a successful leap with the duo’s shouty punk politics and minimalist techno stylings striking a chord.

The set was mostly populated with tracks from their current album English Tapas with a sprinkling from previous albums for the small gathering of die-hard fans.

‘TCR’, ‘Time Sands’ and ‘Cuddly’ were highlights, with ‘Drayton Manored’ making for a surreal live experience.

On ‘Cuddly’ and elsewhere vitriolic lyrics like “I had an organic chicken it was shit” are tied into deeper social and essentially political commentaries. Williamson soon after refers to himself as a “Brex-city Roller”, while the headline of their most famous song predicts “we’re going down like BHS.”

It’s the lyrical trivialities that litter Sleaford Mods’ material, like the chicken, that offer it the uniquely grounded and raw feeling of anger and struggle that fans love.

Of course the real fan favourite was ‘BHS’, which Williamson introduced with more than a tinge of spite, “fucking everyone knows this one” he said. “Even people who have never heard it know this one”.

(Photo by: Justin Gardner https://www.justingardner.co.uk/ | © 2017 Duke Studioshttp://www.duke-studios.com/ Duke Studios http://www.duke-studios.com)

It’s a song that has done a lot for their popularity and one that they now owe a lot to as they prepare to embark on a UK-wide tour. For a man as cynical as Jason Williamson though, the ever-present ‘BHS’ now seems at times to be both a blessing and a curse.

Blessing or curse ‘BHS’ went down a storm. It’s become a hallmark sound for Sleaford Mods because it takes such an accurate and resonating swipe at modern Britain. “We’re going down like BHS, while the able-bodied vultures monitor and pick at us.”

The cutting symbolism of the collapse of a national institution has been powerful for Sleaford Mods. 

Beat-Herder is a festival that is so often willing to offer something different and uncensored, no-nonsense, minimalist techno, post-punk felt very in-keeping with that ethos. It felt, as the pair left the stage claiming to have “felt a pulse” from the keen Beat-Herder audience, that Sleaford Mods debut likely won’t be their last appearance at The Beat-Herder festival. 

For more on The Beat-Herder Festival visit their website: http://beatherder.co.uk/ 

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