Happy Mondays @ o2 Institute 6 December, 2017

Happy Mondays @ o2 Institute 6 December, 2017Happy Mondays @ o2 Institute 6 December, 2017Happy Mondays @ o2 Institute 6 December, 2017Happy Mondays @ o2 Institute 6 December, 2017Happy Mondays @ o2 Institute 6 December, 2017Happy Mondays @ o2 Institute 6 December, 2017Happy Mondays @ o2 Institute 6 December, 2017Happy Mondays @ o2 Institute 6 December, 2017Happy Mondays @ o2 Institute 6 December, 2017Happy Mondays @ o2 Institute 6 December, 2017

It’s been a very long time since I last saw the Happy Mondays I think we are probably going back to the mid-90s at a festival somewhere and that’s me hazarding a guess. If you were a teenager in the 90s you will understand why.

Arriving to a remixed version of Chime by Orbital I was expecting this night to take me back, way back and I wasn’t disappointed. Support came from legendary Hacienda DJ/producer Jon Dasilva who blended and mixed some classic acid house bangers. There is just something about those rave classics that gets you in the mood. Quite possibly it was their familiarity yet unfamiliarity that really helped in creating an atmosphere that just grew as the night went on.

It was really interesting reflecting on some of the teenage memories that came back whilst listening to these tracks and watching the band, especially CDT class involving solder and an electric socket (I need to add it wasn’t me)! Although the Happy Mondays music has stood the test of time and their music still fills the indie dance floor when I DJ, the crowd were certainly of a “certain age” let’s say; there was a splattering of a younger crowd but this was a night for the long-term fan. Tonight was a night to dust off those classic Samba’s and your Adidas tracksuit top and have a dance.

The air of anticipation when the Happy Mondays took to the stage was phenomenal, yes they were late but that didn’t matter as it was not an uncommon thing during their 30 years together. When you attend reunion gigs you know that they can go either way, there can be a huge buzz to them, the band can be on total form and you have a great time; or they can do the opposite. Unfortunately, the band to this point had received some mixed reviews, but thankfully they were on fine form and produced something really quite special.

The set interweaved tracks from their debut album (or “f*$@in’ 80s ones which nobody remembers” as Shaun referred to them) with all of the 90s hits that we all know the words to. Considering the age of the tracks (and the fans) they were received with the same energy as if it was 30 years ago.

Mr Shaun W. Ryder was brilliant with a fine mix of banter and lyrical fun. The chemistry that existed between him and Rowetta was just superb, but let’s just focus on Rowetta for a minute. She was without any doubt the star of the show tonight, in many ways she was the glue that kept everything flowing nicely. Her outfits (yes she did change during the set) were very cool, (I am fairly sure that the first one was a mixture of album and single covers), aside from that her vocal was just stunning and your attention was drawn to her when she came to the stage thanks to her energy and ever-growing stage presence. Bez didn’t disappoint with his freaky dancing and maraca mayhem; how he bounces around the stage like Tigger on acid I have absolutely no idea and let’s face it, just like all of us, he isn’t getting any younger.

If you look at the setlist that (according to Shaun) Paul Davis, the keyboard player had put together I think you have to agree, that if executed well, would be the right mix of tracks for a brilliant night. Opening with four tracks from the superb “Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches” album including the unforgettable guitar riffs on Loose Fit and Kinky Afro it felt like the band very much wanted to give us a night to remember (possibly because you didn’t the first time). For me the track of the night had to be Hallelujah – everything about it was perfection from the prolonged intro including Paul Ryder’s wonderfully familiar bassline to when Rowetta actually sang “Hallelujah” with a beautiful gospel-like voice. For the crowd I think it was a toss-up between three tracks – 24 Hour Party People, Step On!, and encore Wrote For Luck. All of these had the crowd pogoing and dancing more than they did for the rest of the night.

Like the exploding solder from the plug socket or the storm that was brewing outside, the Happy Mondays really did blow up the O2 Institute this evening. Tonight was about familiarity, bringing back personal memories and crafting some new ones that I am pretty sure we will all never forget.

Set List

Loose Fit (Pills ‘n’ Thrills And Bellyaches)

Kinky Afro (Pills ‘n’ Thrills And Bellyaches)

Denis and Lois (Pills ‘n’ Thrills And Bellyaches)

Donovan (Pills ‘n’ Thrills And Bellyaches)

Clap Your Hands (Madchester Rave On E.P. /Bummed)

Hallelujah (Madchester Rave On E.P. /Bummed)

Judge Fudge (Non-album single)

Rave On (Madchester Rave On E.P. /Bummed)

Freaky Dancin (Non-album single)

24 hour party people (Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out))

Bobs Yer Uncle (Pills ‘n’ Thrills And Bellyaches)

Holiday (Pills ‘n’ Thrills And Bellyaches)

Step On!  (Pills ‘n’ Thrills And Bellyaches)

Encore – WFL (Bummed)


Reviewer: Imran Khan

Photographer: Chris Bowley

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