They couldn’t organise a binge in a drug den them lot! Over an hour late for their own show, Happy Mondays (HM) finally take to the stage to the sound of sirens and a crowd that have gone from still to ballistic. The plastic pint cups of lager that are now starting to be thrown all over the crowd by those who can sense its time to dance, go a long way to highlight the anticipation that’s built up whilst we all waited.
Mayhem ensues when a Freddy Kruger-like Shaun Ryder shows and then, then something one step beyond mayhem (bedlam?) follows with the arrival of Bez, everyone’s favourite Manc scamp! Showtime people, showtime! (21.10 not 20.00).
‘Kinky Afro’, a favourite Monday’s opener, gets us under way and although the crowd have gone mental, it seems that HM have yet to warm up, with a somewhat spiritless effort that’s happy to just go through the motions and bringing no real zing or swagger with it. Come on Ant, give ‘em chance!
Ryder explains how Bez had his clothes stolen in Dublin and in doing so Bez’s somewhat uncharacteristically down to earth look, with only a skinny fit white T to freak about in! Surely a spare t-shirt could’ve been found for the poor bloke! After SR calls Bez a ‘smelly c**t’, HM are once again ready to riot.
‘Angels & Whores’ from their latest LP, initially takes the crowds enthusiasm down a little, before a maracas brandishing Bez gets an attitude driven, stage commanding swagger on and combined with Rowetta and her sharp input, doing her bit for the cause tonight, the crowd is lifted once again to its manic former self. The band are clearly starting to get into it!
‘Gods Cop’ stirs another wave of pint slinging as Rowetta really gets going now, unsurprisingly drowning out the mumbling Ryder and his nevertheless crowd pleasing delivery. It hurts to see so much wasted beer!
‘Uncle Dysfunctional’ sees HM turning it on for the responsive crowd who’re either busy singing ‘flying away…’ or taking photos of a posing and finger giving Bez! Nice.
‘Loose Fit’ follows SR amusing compliments to Bez and his borrowed attire. Reaching right to the back of a crammed Rock City, every one of the ape imitating people making up tonight’s crowd are having a go at dancing to Loose Fits slowed intro and majestic main body that’s a flashback to the HM hazy heyday. The soundman stood in front of me, grins his head off as he takes the bass levels high enough to vibrate every vertebrae in the room! As SR calls Bez gay, it seems somewhat appropriate given that Bez has just thrown a fat looking cigarette back at the kind and thoughtful donor! Bezarre!
‘Hey Dude’ brings the return of those bloody sirens! “Cock-a-doodle-do” everyone! Sounding like Black Grape with Rowetta doing Kermit’s vocal, this track is fantastic and well received. Ryder must have the world’s cheekiest grin on his face as he unabashedly checks out a fired up Rowetta, all in front of a delighted audience.
‘Reverend Black Grape’ is an unexpected treat that gets the crowd peaking once more. We’re 30 minutes in and find ourselves the gig ironically peaking with a song that isn’t strictly a HM track! Whatever, let’s have it! Oblivion bound and careless, this party feel begins to escalate, inviting and enticing anyone with ears to join in!
‘In The Blood’ is dedicated to Quincy Jones, ‘Step On’ replaces the well thought out tempo; lighting etc, scheduled ‘Rats with Wings’. SR proclaims that its Bez’s favourite song in the whole wide world, hinting at the possibility of someone in the HM camp being sick to the bone of this roof lifting track. Rowetta toys with her vocals and adds a subtle new dimension of freshness to the song as the soundman plays with the bass again, making eyebrows shake and Ryder bitterly complains with a single “Foo*in’ hell!” The party is erupting and Rock City knows about it! There’s surely no topping this, is there?
‘Jellybean’ breaks the 22.00 curfew and (according to SR) costs the HM crew £6000! “F*ck it” SR shouts, who gets on with the show! The track blisters along in a blaze, with a distracted crowd watching the drink acquiring antics of Bez and his interaction with his all offering audience. SR offers a simple “ta” at the tracks close. It doesn’t top ‘Step On’ but there’s still time.
’24 Hour Party People’ has a notably new ‘wah’ element to its guitar and stirs tonight’s second (to Step On) biggest reaction, with an abundance of bionic and supercharged bouncing bodies giving their all. A breakdown of epic proportion and the bass…oh the bass, its back! Tonight’s closing track takes us all back to Madchester and shows a real return to from for HM. God bless each and every last twisted one of’ em! Though anybody who paid £35 for a tracksuit top on the way in, only to find on the way out that they’re a tenner cheaper, surely won’t be blessing anyone!