Working Men's Club at Record Junkee, Sheffield, 2 November 2019 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Working Men's Club

Working Men’s Club

Working Men’s Club at Record Junkee, Sheffield, November 2nd, 2019

Nov 15, 2019 Photography by Ian Weston Web Exclusive
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As 2019 enters its final weeks, one of the most heart warming stories in the music world centres around the rapid rise of Working Men’s Club. Hailing from the Calderdale borough of West Yorkshire that boasts the cultural havens of Hebden Bridge, Todmorden and Halifax amongst its towns and villages. If the first twelve months of their existence were about honing their crafts and finding a sound. This year has been nothing of a meteoric rise, and deservedly so.

While singer, guitarist and occasional percussionist Syd Minsky-Sergeant remains the only original member left. They’ve become a fully-fledged band of epic proportions in such a short space of time. Which is not to take anything away from the two former Working Men’s Clubbers who’ve since departed for pastures new. Even as far back as May when Under The Radar first caught a glimpse of the band in the flesh at Wrexham’s Focus Wales showcase event it was clear they had something special. The sixty four million dollar question being whether they’d realise it.

Aside from Minsky-Sergeant, who is without any shadow of doubt the most captivating frontman we’ve set eyes on anywhere this year. Working Men’s Club have three other focal points to their make-up. Whether that be Liam Ogburn’s incisive bass lines that simply scream “Shut up and dance!” with every note. Or the dual guitar salvo of Mairead O’Connor and Rob Graham, the former also adding keyboards and occasional dissonant ice cold stares in the process. On stage, their combined presence evokes images of how I’d have expected New York’s Dancetaria or the Paradiso in Amsterdam to be in the electro post punk heyday of the early 1980s.

Working Men's Club

Except we’re in a different time and place altogether. This is post millennium Sheffield, a former industrial heartland in its own right decimated by Thatcher and endless Tory cuts since the early eighties. It feels apt for such an overwhelming performance that’s equal parts dark and grandiose.

Playing a set that lasts just thirty-five minutes in total. Each and every sixty seconds as vital and relentless as the last, Working Men’s Club don’t outstay their welcome. Instead they play a show that’s as necessary as it is life affirming. Utterly relevant to the electoral mayhem and Brexit crisis that surrounds them, they’re a musical amalgam of all your favourite bands and possibly a few you’re yet to hear of.

Recently signed to Heavenly Recordings - where else - itself the most zeitgeist defining independent label in the UK for nearly three decades. There’s an energy and urgency around each and every song that transforms this little upstairs room of a record shop into a heaving mass of blood, sweat and more sweat. Standing still isn’t an option, and neither is taking an eye off the kinetic commotion on stage.

Working Men's Club

Although their catalogue is still in its infancy, with just two limited edition single releases so far in the shape of “Bad Blood” and “Teeth”. Both of which are contenders for 45 of the year I hasten to add. It’s clear that filler is not part of the agenda here. Of the other five songs they play, one’s an ode to Manchester punk poet legend John Cooper Clarke while another berates BBC political correspondent Andrew Neil. Musical reference points vary from New Order at their most primitive to A Certain Ratio via The Human League and New York art punks Suicide. It’s a mind melting, foot stomping melange of sonic bliss. The musical equivalent of ecstasy for the post rave (and nu rave) generations.

Ignore them at your peril, which in itself will be an unlikely feat as 2020 is almost certainly going to be theirs for the taking.

Working Men's Club


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geek squad
November 17th 2019

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