As the UK live music scene cranks up its long awaited return, Working Men's Club played a hometown gig.
Working Men’s Club
13 August 2021
The Golden Lion, Todmorden, Yorkshire
Rob Graham - Guitar/Synths
Syd Minsky-Sargeant - Vocals/Guitar/Drum Machine/Synths
Mairead O’Connor - Guitar/Keyboards/Vocals
Liam Ogburn - Bass
Working Men's Club released my favourite album of 2020, a mighty self-titled electro epic which pulled off the neat trick of simultaneously sounding like the past and the future. Although I haven't been there yet, I have a feeling that Todmorden's Golden Lion is going to be my new favourite venue, especially when our very own Turnstiles play there on October 16. So obviously I wasn't in the slightest bit pissed off when I couldn't go see the former playing in the latter (silently fumes ...). Luckily we have the next best thing, a review from our very own record holder for most gigs attended since lockdown ended, Julia Mason. Here's her take on the action....
During lockdown I had become even more aware of independent music venues around the country, sadly because of their plight due to the impact of the pandemic on their livelihood. However with gigs returning, albeit at different paces across the UK and Ireland, I am determined to visit more of these venues for gigs.
So I was delighted to be able to travel to The Golden Lion in Todmorden, West Yorkshire to see Working Men’s Club. The Golden Lion is a community hub providing more than drinks and its delicious Thai food. Opened in 2015, its independent status gives it freedom which it relishes. Committed to live music it has firmly established itself as a destination point on the North’s touring circuit.
Early in 2021 The Golden Lion announced another string to its bow, the establishment of Golden Lion Sounds. In May it released its first 7” vinyl single (GLS001), the Double A side ‘John Cooper Clarke’ / ‘Symmetry’ by Working Men’s Club & W. H. Lung. Produced in both black and yellow vinyl these singles are now sold out (I was lucky enough to get one). Golden Lion Sounds has just announced its fifth 7” vinyl release so they're firing on all fronts.
With gig buddies I found myself at the front of the intimate upstairs room of the pub waiting for the band to come on and thinking we are going to be eyeball to eyeball with the band members. The walk-on music was Fernando by ABBA. I tried not to sway …..… I failed.
With an impressive array of synths, keyboards, guitars, cables, mike stands and plugs on this tiny stage the 4-piece delivered a blistering set which opened with 19. What followed was seven tracks from their self-titled debut album released last year. Liam on bass was phenomenal. Being so close you could see where the sounds were being generated from, while the rest of the band are multi-instrumentalists switching between guitars and keyboards/synths throughout the show.
At the centre of this unit is Syd who dominates with his charismatic frontman performance. This was very much a local gig for him yet the performance was still there in this tiny space.
Valleys, with over a million streams on Spotify, is the biggest single to date and this was followed by Cook A Coffee. But it is AAAA when Syd really lets rip. John Cooper Clarke is another fan favourite with its instantly recognisable opening synths beats. Be My Guest was next and then the 12 minute long Angel which is the last track on the album. Teeth was the final track of the night.
There was no chat from the band, and no encore… it was all about the music.
And when the music is this good, that is totally fine by me. There were two shows on this particular night. I didn’t have a ticket for the later show until the very last minute and so found myself back at the front, very happy to be mesmerised all over again. Syd got into the crowd during the 2nd set and it was buzzing to see him so comfortable in his own skin.
For the gig going community we have developed friendships over social media due to the shared love of music. To finally meet these friends at gigs is wonderful and so it was with Dermot, a DJ from Hebden Bridge’s local community radio station Recycle Radio.
Another one of the joys of these venues is the opportunity to chat to the bands. We spoke to Mairead as the kit was being loaded up after the gig. She was genuinely touched by our enthusiasm. Life came to a halt for bands, technicians and support staff as well as venues and gig goers during the lockdowns. The joy is there to see as they get back to doing what they love, playing music to a live audience. I look forward to many more nights like this………