Gig review: Sleaford Mods at O2 Academy Leeds

Iggy Pop-approved duo’s energy goes down well with hardcore fans.
Sleaford Mods. Picture: Ewen SpencerSleaford Mods. Picture: Ewen Spencer
Sleaford Mods. Picture: Ewen Spencer

Nottingham duo Sleaford Mods returned to Leeds for the first time since 2019, for an intense, sweaty and energetic headline show at the O2 Academy on a bitterly cold Tuesday night.

The show came days after punk godfather Iggy Pop listed their latest album UK Grim as his album of the year for BBC 6Music.

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The title track of that album, released earlier in the year via Rough Trade, provided the opening track for their set in Leeds. In terms of sound, this new material is the natural progression of the band’s existing work – aggressive and politically charged lyrics backed by driving electronic beats.

Whilst the crowd in Leeds were quickly on-side with the performance it has to be said that this sound is at risk of becoming tiresome after a few songs.

With 12 studio albums under their belt, it is difficult to justify such a lack of variety within their sound. For a casual listener, it is easy for the songs to blend into one generic dance beat overlaid with various ramblings. For dedicated fans of the group, who were out in force in Leeds, there was not much to complain about; the duo delivered what they set out to deliver, and they did so with energy.

The pair recently made headlines when they walked off stage in Madrid after a Palestinian scarf was thrown onstage, and then tweeted “Don’t be asking me to pick sides” – a strangely apolitical stance for musicians whose lyrics have always been overtly political.

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As the set progressed, it seemed that now, with this newly found apolitical standpoint, a lot of Sleaford Mods lyrics feel somewhat soulless, which leaves them with only a generic dance beat and a regional accent.

The only solace from this feeling was the performance of their newly released cover of Pet Shop Boy’s ‘West End Girls’, which went down a storm with the crowd.

All profits made from the single release go to homelessness charity Shelter – who were also fundraising at the O2 Academy.

Sleaford Mods closed out their set with a collection of their greatest hits – including ‘Tied Up in Nottz’, ‘Jobseeker’ and ‘Tweet Tweet Tweet’ – which were all greeted with euphoria from the crowd, many of whom had thrown off their winter coats and embraced the intense heat of the mosh pit for the final hurrah before heading back out into the cold.