Reviewer: Rich Jevons
Happy Mondays have reformed to tour for the 25th anniversary of the seminal Madchester album Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches. The line-up features Shaun Ryder who keeps his act together on vocals, Paul Ryder providing some pumping bass, Mark Day with razor-sharp guitar, Dan Broad providing some magical keyboards, Gary Whelan keeping it tight on drums and Bez, of course, just being the court jester, including a new balancing act. The sensational Rowetta lifts the sound with some epic awesome supporting vocals.
They kick off with some cool comic capers on Kinky Afroand, although numbers like God’s Cop and Donovan are laced with drugs references, the band seem to have cleaned up their act; the threat of either death or prison at least motivating them into it. The tunes still sound fresh and vital, though the performance is not over-enthusiastic, partly due to a dull response from the Leeds crowd. While there is a mosh pit of frenetic activity at the front stalls, up in the balcony it is a more sombre affair, with subdued chic winning over breakout rave.
The band still can funk it up and the awesome intro riff of Loose Fit has us all welling up with nostalgia for those of us who survived the rave plague in the naughty nineties, and there are cheeky grins to be seen throughout the audience. Thoughtfully, Bob’s Yer Uncle is dedicated to Tony Wilson, one of those who did not make it, and much lamented too. The hypnotic Step On has to be up there with all the best of the Madchester tunes, followed by Holiday recounting Shaun Ryder’s mishaps at Manchester Airport, balanced perfectly with the more laid back Harmony.
Perhaps due to the dullness of the crowd there are only two encores, but Hallelujah blasts out a great send-off to end a nostalgia trip, that is both fond and freaky at the same time.
Touring until 12 December 2015 | Image: Contributed