Celebrating the 25th anniversary of their hit 1990 album Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches, the Happy Mondays come back to Manchester tonight and it’s like they’ve never been away.
Nostalgia is the new black when it comes to the 90s Manchester music scene lately. The clamour for Stone Roses tickets saw websites crash as they sold out in seconds, and the announcement of a late December tour from the Charlatans mean it’s pretty safe to say we can feel the not-so-distant rumblings of a Madchester revival.
Signed up by Tony Wilson in the Hacienda in 1985, the Mondays were always a bit different from the standard Manchester indie bands: lashings of Northern soul and funk, with soulful female vocals from Rowetta (with her Salford accented, throaty voice), and – ahem – the colourful language of Shaun Ryder and the utterly lovable Bez made the Mondays unique.
Transferring us – with the help of Paul Ryder, Gaz Whelan, Paul Davies and Mark Day – from the acid house raves of the late 80s to the indie scene of the early 90s, the Mondays cemented their place in Manchester music’s hall of fame.
Opening with Kinky Afro, the crowd – for want of a better phrase – went absolutely mental. I felt like I was 17 again; everyone around me looking overly happy and peaceful. The gig definitely had a 90s rave feel to it.
Shaun Ryder was brilliant. It’s hard to stand out when you have Rowetta’s voice and Bez shaking his maracas but the way Shaun stays static with his shades on is the epitome of cool.
And let me tell you, his voice was on point. No different to 25 years ago.
Rowetta’s voice: we need to talk about it. Sampled by will.i.am, no less, on the Black Eyed Peas’ Boom Boom Pow, Rowetta has a more than soulful voice, it’s like a machine. And I love the soul it adds to the already slightly soulful sound of the Mondays. It kind of juxtaposes Ryder’s; total opposites that work perfectly together.
Sometimes bands can lose their magic over the years, but the Mondays haven’t at all. Still funky, cheeky, down-right vulgar, but so endearing.
There’s real love and fondness for them in Manchester – because yes, they’re from Salford, but they’re more than just a cool rock group. They have brilliant elements of comedy that obviously come naturally, they have a unique and raw sound and they’ve not lost an iota of charm over the years.
There were young people there who weren’t even a twinkle in their dad’s eyes when the Mondays were out, raving like good’uns, they were.
But I’m not going to be a nostalgia snob: one of those people who take ownership of bands’ heydays because they actually remember the fresh buzz they generated when nobody had anything else to attach themselves to in Manchester’s bleak late 80s and early 90s.
The Mondays often play the fool but this was a top quality night of authentic music with brilliant, sarcastic and dry lyrics (something us Mancs do well: Morrissey, Noel Gallagher).
Step On was the climax and oh, my, did the crowd go wild. I thought I was going to be trampled. Rowetta’s cheeky Manchester United shirt at the end got a massive cheer, too.
It was a very good atmosphere, though: no bad vibes whatsoever. an authentic trip down memory lane that even younger generations can enjoy.
This review was first written on manchestereveningnews.com
Gig Street is an informational music website filled with news, competitions and special offers and reviews of both recorded and live music!