Happy Mondays review: a tight unit and proficient in the mosaic of genres
PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:01 13 December 2019
Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches is the best known album by The Happy Mondays and a good synopsis of the band's career, but nearly 40 years after the Madchester pioneers first formed in Salford most of the original members were back on stage and in fine form last night at the Nick Rayns LCR for the band's greatest hits tour.
The musicians were a tight unit and proficient in the mosaic of genres including blues, rock, gospel and funk that makes up the Mondays' sound. Vocalist Rowetta added her rich soulful voice to a rave style overture before the band launched into Kinky Afro and were joined on stage by Shaun Ryder and Bez.
Shaun was not the most domineering frontman. He delivered the right words at the right time but did little more as he remained rooted to the spot hunched up in a thick black overcoat and baseball cap.
He was frequently outshone by Bez who shuffled and jived back and forth across the front of the stage greeting fans and shaking his trademark maracas. It's hard to appreciate what a man with no discernible skills as a dancer or musician can bring to the band until you see him in action. What he lacks in talent he makes up for in enthusiasm. Positioned between the band and the crowd he was a catalyst between the two spreading positive vibes among onlookers and feeding them back to the performers.
The band followed one of their most popular songs with the lesser-known Performance from 1988 album Bummed with its funk and blues rhythms. The energy grew with every song as the group belted out the hits and delved into the depths of their back catalogue. As 24-Hour Party People began a run of big tunes towards the finale even Shaun got more into it. Passion grew in his delivery and he even moved slightly from his favoured spot as Rowetta jived, shimmied and twirled her tassels, Bez bounded back and forth and the musicians played their hearts out. The main set closed with a triumphant rendition of Step On with Wrote For Luck in the encore.
It was a tense time as the nation awaited its fate on Election night but for a couple of hours it was a different kind of party that held a strong majority, led by a unique and endlessly entertaining act.