Live: Goa Express + Working Men’s Club – Golden Lion, Todmorden

While it’s generally all about the music sometimes the venue also gladdens the heart, and while somewhat painful for me to get to via public transport I always look out to see what’s going at the wonderful Golden Lion in Todmorden. The pub is so friendly that I don’t mind going there on my own as someone will make sure you feel welcome here. This bank holiday saw an all day set of DJ’s and live bands; it all felt rather more relaxed than the thought of a trip to Leeds Festival with the sad numbers of aggressive little air heads celebrating their A-Level results, and with a contribution only bucket at the door it was far better value too.

The first live band I caught at Tod was young local band Working Men’s Club . The sound check was a little rushed and somewhat problematic, but the band got a good sound going. There’s a good mix of male/female vocals in the group and at times it felt as though the Lou Reed/Nico combination had been reincarnated with their deep deadpan vocal style.

While there was a pleasing strong pulsing Velvet Underground/ Fall / Jonathan Richman feel to the music I also appreciated the intricate jangling guitar work going on, which brought a lighter tinge and a good beat to the sound and somewhat reminded me of Hong Kong Gardens era Siouxie. It’s very clear there is plenty in the tank and much more to come from these guys.

The band attracted a drunk “Bez dancer” to the floor which added to the experience.

Working Men’s Club have gigged fairly consistently around the Halifax and Manchester area so I’ll be looking out for more of this very promising band. Those from the North East will be able to catch the band playing support to the Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Northumbria Institute in Newcastle on 21 October.

I have mentioned elsewhere that over the past 18 months I’ve seen perhaps 4-5 bands that I think really could make it huge if that’s what they want and with luck on their side. One of them has to include the magnificent The Goa Express.  It’s telling that I’ve spotted someone trying to sell the band’s 2016 record store 7 inch vinyl Reincarnation of the Lizard Queen for £25, so I’m clearly not the only one picking up on the buzz (and yes, I have my own copy of the record stored for my pension fund).

It’s probably been 12 months or more since I last saw The Goa Express, and James the lead vocalist told me during a quick chat that they had developed their music considerable since those times. With their new EP Use Your Brain The Goa Express expose their hybrid brand of feral 60’s punk garage, the Madchester scene, all dolloped with liberal sprinklings of psych on top.

Live at The Golden Lion the Express guys were crushed into a swaggering wall of noise in the slightly incongruous setting of a traditional pub snug, with a line of synth, two guitars and bass being led by the frantic drums behind almost buried amongst the littered number of unneeded bar stools. The Goa Express have attitude in spades on stage and give their all into their performance. In the mixed pub environment Goa Express received a warm reception and are clearly one of the Golden Lion’s own.

The Goa Express have quickly become key ingredients of any Psych fest, and they are playing Karma Fest at Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds on 8th September, The Psych weekend at Night People in Manchester on the 15th September, and they return to Tod’s Golden Lion as support to the wonderfully loose and spacey Lucid Dream on November 23rd.

Chris R

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