“Some kind of Spectacle” (Sleaford Mods)

Paul Liddle

02 June, 2023
Sydney Opera House

“Got those Seaford Mods tix if you’re still keen” the text came through a few nights before Sleaford Mods were due to play at the Sydney Opera House on a Friday night during Vivid. I hadn’t shot a gig since I blew my knee out in the mosh pit of IDLES 6 months earlier so I was a little apprehensive. Had I lost it? You know, that “edge” they talk about in Top Gun? Maybe. I just thought getting older wouldn’t happen in a split second during song 1.

The pub before the gig felt familiar. Being out as a relatively new father was interesting. I felt like an observer of other people’s lives. I viewed their interactions in a new way, I guess I no longer felt part of it; the crowd, the pub jolly pub people. I was just a happy fly on the wall drinking beer with another fly.

We made our way into the city and it was truly alive. Vivid really makes the night feel like day. Some kind of spectacle. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Sleaford Mods. I knew their music and I liked what I heard but I couldn’t picture it. Two men, in front of a laptop and microphone. How are they going to entertain the entire Concert Hall of the Opera House?

The show really hit my senses hard. They had more energy than the majority of bands you see in a concert hall setting. The beats were unique and powerful, and seemed to reinvent themselves every song. The lights exploded out from behind them, giving them the added grandeur of the silhouetted performer. Their shadows danced out over the crowd like some medieval pantomime monsters. And the lyrics were equal parts articulate and grimy. The eloquent streets were speaking, and everyone listened. The crowd watched on in a trance; a few people managed to throw their hands in the air but most just swayed side to side trapped in a standing feedback loop. The band never slowed, never gave the audience time to snap out of it, they just plowed on, head down, belting vitriol out into the night. The beautiful juxtaposition of a counter culture act housed in the opulence of Australia’s most prized live venue.

Some kind of spectacle indeed.