Nottingham punk-rap titans Sleaford Mods – still on the victory lap from their Top Five album ‘Spare Ribs’, which NME dubbed a “bracing dose of reality” – have a more complex relationship with Glastonbury than most. A few years ago, frontman Jason Williamson was asked about their then-recent appearance at the festival and explained that he finds its scale a little overwhelming: “I didn’t enjoy it much. I don’t enjoy Glastonbury… It’s quite intense [and] fucks with your ego.”
He was quick to add that the Pilton piss-up is “largely a positive event”, but also told NME, ahead of their appearance at the West Holts Stage this year, that he still has “mixed feelings” about it all. Yet Sleaford Mods absolutely capture the unruly spirit of Worthy Farm; they belong here as much any falafel-bothering Glasto stalwart (looking at you, Chris Martin). Here’s how their spleen-venting slot on the Friday afternoon proved that beyond any reasonable doubt. No, they didn’t play ‘Fix You’.
They’re returning heroes
This is far from the first time that Williamson and gifted producer Andrew Fearn have graced the festival site with their brutally efficient brand of electro-punk. Glasto is all about good vibes, man, and Sleaford Mods have spent 11 album-length release refusing to sugar-coat life in shit-tip Britain; the frontman seemed conscious of the unlikeliness that he’d ever become a regular here. “Believe it or not we’ve been here four times,” he announced. “You wouldn’t fucking think it, would ya? Set of cunts!”
It was a cathartic weight off
In the midst of all this peace and love, it was bracing to hear someone tell it like it is. During ‘Short Cummings’, a savage protest song aimed at Boris Johnson’s disgraced former Chief Adviser Dominic Cummings, who now spends most of his time powerlessly moaning on Twitter, Williamson ad-libbed: “What you gonna do now, you cunt? What you gonna do now, you little friendless bastard!” It helped that he was dancing about while he delivered his bilious putdowns. The crowd roared and jigged along as if he’d just offered to buy everyone a pint.
Andrew’s learned some moves too
For Mods’ first-ever festival headline set at Dorset’s End of the Road set last year, the duo – whose gig are usually the definition of stripped-back – brought a dazzling light show that underlined how far they’ve come. Besides a glitchy video backdrop, there was none of that today. Instead, Andrew, who would previously neck a tinny behind a laptop during their shows, did a kind of aerobics routine, running on the spot and punching the air. Expect him to do Mr. Motivator-style pick-me-up sessions at a festival near you sometime this summer.
They’ve crowd-pleasing bangers aplenty
Their radio hit ‘Mork n Mindy’ received the most appreciative response from the crowd (especially when Mods’ pal Billy Nomates bowled onstage to belt out the chorus), though their cover of ‘80s synth-poppers Yazoo’s ‘Don’t Go’ wasn’t far behind. Being uncompromising has rarely sounded so fucking fun.
It was actually a massive love-in
For all their reputation as spiky provocateurs, Andrew and Jason are supportive sorts deep down. When the latter put down “flag tits” on the bassy ‘Kebab Spider’, he was having a go at xenophobic shitbags, not the grinning, flag-waving audience, whose enjoyment he checked in on throughout the gig. Williamson and Billy Nomates blew kisses to one another and, at the end of show, he and Fearn took out their phones to lovingly snap the audience they’d spent an hour with battering with a sonic barrage. It’s official: be a punk, not a hippie.