An explosion of profanity of the highest order signals the arrival of East Midlands duo Sleaford Mods on stage at the O2 Academy Oxford. And that cuss, far too rude to print here, encapsulated the gig that was to unfurl: angry, assaulting, funny and knowing.

Jason Williamson — the vocal half of Lincolnshire-born, but Nottingham-based Sleaford Mods — wasn’t insulting the crowd, he was working on the assumption that everyone shared in his frustration and was just as annoyed with, well, everything, as he was. And he was right.

Williamson twitches, spits and curls his arm up to his head with twisted, spasmodic mannerisms while lyricising, before occasionally lumping around his microphone, ape-like, lower jaw protruding. The songs are vast streams of consciousness on politics, the music industry, rubbish jobs and everything else that’s eaten away at Williamson over the past 40-odd years.

He’s not just mouthing off though. Lyrics that seem to spew straight from his gut are actually brilliantly crafted and very clever. Take, for example the refrain from Jobseeker: “Can of Strongbow, I’m a mess/ Desperately clutching on to a leaflet on depression/ Supplied to me by the NHS/ Is anyone’s guess how I got here?”

Judging by the number of people ranting along with him, it’s this raw, but carefully thought-out, anger that fans relate to.

On the other side of the stage is the other half of the duo, Williamson’s laidback counterpoint, Andrew Fearn. He provides the music: for each track he pressed a button on his laptop, stood back in his Run DMC T-shirt, beer in hand, and nodded along to the beat.

You might say there isn’t much to his tracks or his performance, but both are essential to Sleaford Mods.

Solid, steady, relentless: the importance of Fearn’s backing — musical and physical — is obvious live. Without it, the Mods would be just a crazed and opinionated individual, yelling and sweating. With Fearn, the focus shifts to what’s actually being said and the crowd can be complicit in Williamson’s rage, rather than bystanders, or even victims.

Sleaford Mods have been creating music for around six years, but with last year’s release of their Divide and Exit album, people started to take notice. Many critics argue it’s because the Mods are giving voice to the grim reality of living in austerity Britain. That is indeed likely why they’re getting so much press attention, but it’s not the main reason their gigs are selling out.

This was one of those stand-out gigs; memorable and good for you. The Mods had edge, but without pretension. And while, yes, they did give vent to things we all occasionally wish we could say, they also made us laugh and listen. It was refreshing and tells you exactly why Sleaford Mods are increasingly popular: they’re exciting!

Clare Dodd