Everyone’s had a rough time over the last two years thanks to The Spicy Cough, but few industries have had it as tough as the creative and hospitality industries.

Live music venues, pubs, clubs and other cultural organisations have been disproportinately affected by lockdowns and social distancing measures, especially in Sydney. It’s often felt like there’s two sets of rules: at the same time that sporting fixtures have been allowed to have tens of thousands of spectators, bars haven’t been allowed to let people stand up to order a drink or listen to a band.

As Sydney heads into lockdown mode yet again, we find this “glaring double standard”, as The Daily Mail dubs it, rearing its head again. NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has announced that singing and dancing is banned at nightclubs, pubs, bars, and entertainment facilities until January 27… Yet church gatherings – including those perfomed by Pentecostal megachurches like Hillsong, known for their lavish live music productions – are notably exempt.

That has inspired one Sydney pub to say “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”. The Lord Gladstone, a popular Inner West spot known for its strong community ethos, has decided to rebrand itself as The Gladsong Hotel: Sydney’s newest place of worship; but one that’s more about cheeseburgers and cold beer than wafers and wine.

The Lord Gladstone’s courtyard. The restored corner pub has become a mecca for Sydney creatives in recent years, regularly hosting live music and cultural events at its upstairs exhibition space/gallery, Goodspace. Image: HTL Property

The Gladsong Hotel will be hosting a ‘Sunday Service’ on the 23rd of January, promising jugs of Holy Water (their tasty house lager), Bloody Lords (Bloody Maries) and DJs in the courtyard all day. Sounds like our kind of church.

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“It’s been an absolutely frustrating period of time for all venue owners, right now and over the past couple of years,” The Lord Gladstone’s owner and manager Mitchell Crum explains.

“Once again it feels like our leaders are leaving our poor struggling musicians and artists back in the darkness. Live music venues, musicians, pubs and clubs all across the state have been the hardest hit without any support or closure.”



“I can’t say I’m terribly religious though I worship live music. Does that make us exempt?”

It’s not clear whether or not ‘The Gladdy’ will get away with this stunt on the 23rd, but to paraphrase former Prime Minister (and beer aficionado) Bob Hawke, “any cop who arrests anyone for turning up is a bum.”

Sydney rapper Phil Fresh performing at The Lord Gladstone in December 2021. Image: @chippolord

It’s not the first time the pub’s done a publicity stunt like this. Last August, The Lord Gladstone rebranded itself as ‘The Lord Jabstone’, offering free drinks to vaccinated patrons. We’d say they’re more than justified doing this church rebrand, under the circumstances.

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These new restrictions have already taken a major toll on the NSW economy. Grapevine Gathering, a Hunter Valley festival set to feature major Australian acts including Peking Duk, The Jungle Giants and The Veronicas, was forced to cancel with just four days lead time, meaning 16,000 tickets will need to be refunded. The organisers have projected a loss of over $5.2 million and 1,400 jobs in the greater Hunter Valley region from this cancellation.

Other notable live music events such as Newtown’s King Street Carnival and the Tamworth Country Music Festival have also been forced to postpone, The Guardian reports.

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