There’s something cool about The Workers Club. I don’t know whether it’s the rustic floorboards in the bar at the entry that kind of bend when you walk on them, the fact that it has a rabbit warren feel the way it’s laid out, or the fact it has a unisex bathroom like it’s no big deal (because it really is no big deal). The band room always feels cosy and like a huge hangout space for bands and music fans alike, and never feels like an us-and-them performance space. This is a great venue for talking with musicians like they’re mates, and introducing yourself between sets and telling band members face-to-face how great they were.
This cosy casualness was most apparent with the opening set from Spectral Fires, where the small crowd seemed to consist of friends of the band members, people from other bands, and people like me. The melodic/hardcore punk band brought a whole lot of hype and energy though, with vocalist Jack beaming out an infectious happiness. What surprised me most about the Spectral Fires set were the more emotive moments (which I noted down as ‘delicious melodic pockets’) where the previously leaping and punching Jack was practically whispering confessions into the microphone as though we were not there. The band didn’t miss a beat in these sparser moments. My attention was torn between the incredible clean vocals from Harry Pratt, and the bassist Daniel Cooper, who seemed buzzingly elated to be there. It would not surprise me if Spectral Fires is Daniel’s favourite band. The guys are clearly passionate about their music, and brilliantly versatile in their sound. I considered their set at The Workers Club to be a solid step up from when I saw them last, when they supported Young Lions.
It was the first time I’d seen Red Lotus, and I found their set to be captivating to watch as it unfolded. They began with some technical difficulties, but soon enough presented a strong and hard hitting sound. The four piece seem well at home in their sound, where delicate moments collide with massiveness, and the songs feel like stories being shared. One thing that struck me as important about Red Lotus was their genuineness, both with their in between song conversation and also their presentation. They feel like ‘what you see is what you get’, and though happy to be there and wanting our connection, there was no overdone hype, which refreshingly allowed for the focus to be on their creations of soundscapes on stage, and an invitation to ride the waves of sound along with them. You could lose yourself in their music. A stand-out in Red Lotus’ beautiful set was the vocal versatility from Stephanie Briffa, effortlessly going from screams to gentleness and back again.
Windwaker are another band I’d not seen live before, despite the five piece being thoroughly all over the scene. In contrast to Red Lotus, it felt as though Windwaker’s efforts were focused on the making of the show and getting crowd engagement, more than it was on the music itself. As a newcomer to them, it felt a little distracting and the hectic and effortful energy felt tough to get through to try to connect with what they were sharing in their music. I would have loved louder vocals too. It’s admirably ambitious, but a wall-of-death in the first song of their set just didn’t work with this casual/cosy/sleepy Thursday night crowd. Nonetheless, Windwaker clearly worked hard to put on a show for everyone, and included a lot of on stage movement and breakdowns in unison. They put on a solid show, and really did get the crowd moving, but as a feels-oriented music enthusiast, I’d love to see more vulnerability from these guys.
As the main event, Foxblood were strikingly strong and ‘together’. It was surprising to me to learn that they’d recently had a line-up change (as well as Tom confessing that they’d never played at the venue and were feeling nervous) because none of that dampened their set at all. The four piece worked very well, hitting the crowd strongly and with focus, feeling like an arrow. Having three vocalists (Tom Beale, Brett Powell, Anthony Syle) layering and harmonising their voices, with drums behind (Aaron Beale), the Foxblood set offered up a very strong sense of unity, which was mesmerising and kept the audience present with them throughout. A lot of my attention went toward new band member Anthony (on bass), who had all of us captivated by his clean vocals. This strength in their line-up, as well as a sound that works very well for them gives the impression of there being much more in store for Foxblood in the near future.
Soak up the reason for the show: “Never Rome”.
All photos by Liam Davidson.