The Happy Mondays always take me back to my joyous Journo college days of the early 90’s when I was mostly wearing a yellow smiley face Tee, blowing the obligatory whistle, and dancing around manically to the ‘Madchester’ sound.
Thirty years on and their 24 Hour Party People Greatest Hits Tour reminiscently reminded me of why I still love the Salford soldiers’ sounds of those saw salad days so much.
Take my back to those times I thought as they stepped on to the Student Uni stage to a crazy crowd of Old Skool Ravers – mixing it up with the legions of new fans not even born when Bob’s Your Uncle first burst onto the scene.
Well I say stepped – that was just the backing band. Shaun Ryder practically swaggered, Rowetta skipped and shimmied whilst the ever-entertaining Bez quickly crash landed with his trusty maracas clutched tightly in hand.
No change there then. The Happy Mondays have always been one of the most eclectic acts to emerge from the 90’s rave scene.
Formed in 1980 by Shaun Ryder and assorted others they cut their musical teeth in and round the Manchester pubs and clubs, notably the infamous Hacienda, before being signed to the iconic Factory Records.
For me, they perfectly personify rave and all that goes with it – the sound, the style, the colourfulness, and the chaos.
A genre they made their own, especially when the powerfully-voiced Rowetta joined in 1990 to make Step On one of the sounds of that era.
And it’s still the song that turns it on today along with the rest of the band’s big Manchester scene back catalogue.
Twisting My Melons Man lit large by the laser light show that beamed bold as they played a ninety minute set of their classic fusion of funk, house and psychedelia.
Tracks such as Clap your Hands, Rave On, and Hallelujah show the songs are as fresh now as all those years ago.
For me, The Mondays sum up the rawkus rave scene and there’s not one tune I dislike in their smiley face reportoire.
Frontman Shaun Ryder is still a powerful presence. Dressed in black, he stood almost still for the whole set, baseball cap pulled nearly to chin, gutturally singing the songs.
A complete contrast to the sweet-souled Rowetta who was ever near, and ever vocally strong, as she gently guided him through their greatest hits.
As for Mark ‘Bez’ Berry, well he never ever takes a day off does he. He bounced and bounded all over the shop, swinging and shaking his maracas.
And playfully provoking the adoring fans into mirroring his moves.
The band’s backbone, bassist and brother Paul Ryder, drummer Gary Whelan, guitarist Mark Days, and keyboardist Dan Broad stayed solidly in the shadows.
They played the seminal Step On to finish the nostalgic night before an encore of The Egg and Wrote for Luck brought the psychedelic curtain down.
Four years ago almost to the day, I had stood in the same mad mosh pit, with the same gorgeous Gig Girls, when The Mondays touted the triumphant Thrills, Pills, and Bellyaches tour.
That perfect live performance of the outstanding 1990’s album, produced by my fave House DJ Paul Oakenfold, left me and the crowd crying for more.
A sentiment rapidly repeated by Friday Night’s feeling.
Roll on 2023 then!
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Sue Vincent-Jones, writing as Mrs SVJ, is a Barry born journalist, editor, and communications specialist. She blogs about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a, quirky and queer, local girl done good.
One of Wales Arts Review 100 Women Writers of Wales, the dedicated community supporter, passionate arts lover, and award-winning queer activist, will keep you “informed, entertained and inspired.”
Mrs SVJ, Barry’s Boldest Blogger, can be contacted here.