Sleaford Mods, Cardiff University Students’ Union, Cardiff: It doesn't get much better than this

The Nottingham two-piece are a welcome alternative to dreary guitar bands

It’s just six months since Sleaford Mods last headlined a show in Cardiff. Yet the duo, whose songs offer a minimalist hybrid of post-punk and hip-hop, are treated like returning heroes. You can understand why.

Such is the sheer physical feat of the speed and intensity with which vocalist Jason Williamson delivers the cut-up, social realist lyrics to songs such as “Tied Up in Nottz”, “Middle Men” and “Fizzy” that you can’t take your eyes off him. His distinctive spoken-word delivery – think John Cooper Clarke with a sensible haircut – and powerful stage presence, honed during years of service in no-name bands, make him a hugely engaging frontman.

The Nottingham two-piece is completed by Andrew Fearn, the creator of the sparse beats-and-basslines backing tracks. The duo’s anti-rockism is encapsulated perfectly by the fact that Fearn makes no attempt to play an instrument on stage. Instead, he hits play on his laptop to start each song – and that’s it. He spends the rest of the time mirroring the enthusiastic, sold-out audience by bobbing his head to the music and drinking bottled lager.

There’s little variety or subtlety in the Sleaford Mods live experience. But as a reaction against dreary guitar bands – the duo had a recent spat with Noel Gallagher and ridiculed indie musicians for their lyrics – it doesn’t get much better than this taut, 45-minute set.

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