LIVE: Working Men's Club @ YES, Manchester
I struggle with live-streams. As the urge to re-join the communion of the venue deepens almost daily, watching live-streams of ambitious performers – two inches tall on the pixels and faraway – has become a tantalising reminder of the old normal’s finest hours. It’s the curtain call I find unbearable: the music stops and you’re left all alone, in a dimly lit room, having clumsily nudged the last half of a Kronenbourg onto the floor, staining the carpet. Usually I can deal with it. This time, however, it was particularly tough; I really wanted to be up in Manchester watching Working Men’s Club at YES.
With an upcoming album, and following their record deal with Melodic Records, Working Men’s Club have been making pre-emptive waves. The release of singles ‘Teeth’ and ‘Bad Blood / Suburban Heights’ in 2019 got Yorkshire’s own, Sydney Minsky-Sargeant and his crew of upstarts onto the airwaves, as well as a ‘One to Watch’ profile in The Guardian. Working Men’s Club (taking their name from the iconic bastions of post-war trade-unionism that once speckled the north all over) have since released, ‘AAAA’, and showcased a number of songs for the forthcoming self-titled, debut album – many of which were on show last Friday.
It all started with what would’ve been quite the bounce, had communal bouncing become legal again. The song, ‘Valleys’, hasn’t been released yet, but I can assure you it has all the synth clout a Working Men’s Club opener should. Minsky-Sargeant was busy strutting his stuff from the get go. His approach reminded me of a young Mark E Smith; there’s a lacklustre charisma that ties the two together, they sing with the same blasé disenchantment. The latest single, ‘AAAA’, also happens to sound a lot like Von Südenfed – Smith’s later-day techno collaboration with Jan St. Werner.
The set list carried itself through recent hits like ‘Bad Blood’ before coming to another as-yet unreleased banger, ‘JCC’ (short for John Cooper Clarke) which I have no doubt will borough keenly and efficiently into your head upon first listen. It wasn’t long before I’d gotten off the sofa, dancing over to the fridge to fetch another beer, willing my consciousness up the M1 and past the Peak District. Not a lot of bands could do that from an IPhone-Jambox circuit. Maybe it was that they chose to take the live-stream seriously, with excellent sound quality, doing everything they could to pull you, however briefly, back into the world of live music? Maybe it’s just Working Men’s Club? But, by the final track, ‘Teeth’, I was on my feet.
Working Men’s Club have proved that they can think outside the box, and that, above all, they want their fans to feel immersed. Though, for now, it can only be from afar, Working Men’s Club show serious wherewithal. Yet another reason to be excited for the doors to reopen, for gigs to start once more.
Working Men's Club's latest single 'A.A.A.A' is out now on Heavenly recordings.