HAPPY MONDAYS | LIVE REVIEW
Great Hall, Cardiff University Students Union, Fri 17 Nov
Celebrating their ‘30th Anniversary 24 hour Party People Tour Greatest Hits’ – just slips off the tongue, that – the Happy Mondays are back in Cardiff. Discovered by the legendary Tony Wilson of Hacienda nightclub fame, they seem to be ramping up the volume rather than quietly retiring to a life of Netflix and red wine. Having been brought up listening to my Dad playing Manchester hits of the 80s and 90s, I was intrigued to know what all the fuss was about at my first Mondays gig.
The Great Hall was rammed with ex-ravers wearing a rainbow of Adidas Gazelles: there was no doubt that this was a big night for them. The band’s legendary Pills ‘n’ Thrills And Bellyaches album was resurrected, with the likes of Kinky Afro and Hallelujah belted out word for word. The crowd were submerged into their former years, Shaun Ryder’s faltering voice drowned out; Bez was infectious in his unique style, bouncing across the stage with the audience mimicking his every arm and leg move.
During Bez’s backstage rest intervals, the focus was on the soul voice of Rowetta (now of X Factor fame) constantly keeping Ryder in the game. The classic Step On transformed the night into pure modern-day entertainment: not a single head in the crowd was still, young and old alike, even if the latter were perhaps not as buoyant in their dance moves as 20 years ago. Bez is an appendage to the band but an entertaining one, and the crowd lapped up the nostalgia and the tunes with raucous appreciation for the Mancunian outfit.
By the end of a two-hour set, the Mondays left the crowd gagging for it. What a way to kick off the weekend – thank you ‘til the next time.
words JAMEY PENGILLEY photos MORGAN DEVINE