Working Men’s Club bring rowdy rave energy to The Globe
Tucked away at the end of Albany Road, The Globe is Cardiff’s most easterly venue, and one of its most unassuming. The friendly bouncer standing on the pavement and the vague rumbling of loud music nearby is the only clue that you’ve come to the right place. The same bouncer later quips that we’ll see him at Tramshed tomorrow for Shame.
There’s a gawdy energy about this place. It’s a compact, grubby venue, with a round interior and a small dance floor. The stage is book-ended by monolithic speaker stacks, whilst a balcony sits at the rear. Formerly a cinema back in yonder, it’s played host to a vast number of acts for whom you’re bound to know at least a few; its unkempt feel gives it the ideal setting for up and coming talent to make themselves known.
Case in point, Working Men’s Club, who’s debut release reached the #2 spot on the Sourhouse Albums of the Year 2020. Their blend of post punk grit and acid house danceability is as near as makes no difference my favourite sound in the UK right now. With a mysterious lack of a support act – the word was that they’d pulled out last week – it was their stage to own.
“Just as gawdy as the venue is, the crowd are an uncertain mix of characters, some ready to move like they’re at a rave and others ducking out the way of the growing mosh pit.”
Bang on the dot of 9:00 pm, they walk on. Lead singer Syd Minsky-Sergeant, sporting what looks like a ski jacket, corrals the microphone, and the band inject the room with an industrial, gothic energy. Just as gawdy as the venue is, the crowd are an uncertain mix of characters, some ready to move like they’re at a rave and others ducking out the way of the growing mosh pit. Nothing about it was comfortable, and the bluntness matches the character of WMC’s music.
Their set list was an apt combination of the best stuff from their debut and a wealth of new cuts. The unreleased material has a faster, funkier feel than their current discography; I understand that their second album is in the works, and if it sounds anything like what they played on Monday, it will go down well with me. The addictive licks of ‘John Cooper Clarke’ ring out, and my mates and I decide its time to boogie. Words cannot do justice to how addictive the guitars on this cut are.
“The defensive nature of the band’s coolness breaks down for a few moments as ‘Angel’ reaches its tempestuous second half…”
Their all-round vibe is a thoroughly unique one. Syd surveys over the crowd with a stern gaze one minute, before breaking out into frenzied, animated movement the next. Mairead O’Connor commands the left of the stage, face unchanging from its neutral coolness as she switches from bass to synth. Rob Graham noodles on the guitar, unphased by the crowd and managing to crack a smile from Syd at one point. Liam Ogburn, meanwhile, works away hidden behind the right speaker stack, driving the underbelly of the band.
The energy builds as the night goes on, the front of the crowd blending into the flashing lights. The defensive nature of the band’s coolness breaks down for a few moments as ‘Angel’ reaches its tempestuous second half, Syd jumping into the crowd and the place reaching fever pitch. One song later, and they’re off, leaving the audience a tad confused, and some outright disappointed. It’s the mark of a band not keen on fawning to their fans.
As a four piece, the group display a dexterous capability to get a crowd moving. No doubt there’s polish to be added down the line, but the underlying raucousness that their sound creates, only hemmed in by the clean cuts of those synths and drum machines, has riveting appeal. In a venue as rough and ready as The Globe, it was destined to flourish.
Working Men’s Club at The Globe, Cardiff, 8th November 2021
Check out my video on the music that inspired Working Men’s Club here.