On leaving the house BBC4 had the memories of Leonard Sachs and his guests taking us back to the dark ages of entertainment via the Good Old Days. However, on arriving in the Welsh capital Shaun Ryder and his associates turned the clock yesteryear to revive the golden era of the great old Happy Mondays!
On this grim, cold November night that meant the Mancunian Mavericks planned to warm the cockles of their Welsh fans with a show of 80’s and 90’s anthems. That meant unleashing: Loose Fit, Kinky Afro Dennis and Lois, Donovan, Clap Your Hands, Hallelujah, Judge Fudge, Rave On, Freaky Dancin’, 24 Hour Party People, Bob’s Yer Uncle, Holiday, Step On plus Wrote for Luck. Yes, quite a formidable set was presented at the Cardiff University Great Hall – but, there are so many other favourites that were to remain in the locker of the Happy Mondays. All of the singles were not explored and how we also longed for the likes of Tart, Tart, Mad Cyril, Performance, Lazyitits, Stinkin’ Thinkin’ and a host of classics. As a Greatest Hits tour, the band chose what they obviously regarded as their premier moments and there was plenty to celebrate – but, on a subjective front, the highlights could have been even brighter.
Rowetta – the lioness entered sporting an ‘I heart Wales’ t-shirt while shaking her pom-poms. The grey-haired skeleton of Bez then joins the proceedings and he was due to put in a shift of manic moves and of course he can whip the crowd into a frenzy. The band including more original members in the form of Paul Ryder, Mark Day and Gaz Whelan then follow, before the king of cool Shaun Ryder ambles streetwise on to the stage. When one considers the excessive chemicals that have passed through this act and the fact that they are no longer spring chickens it is a testament to them that they play so well and were so focussed. Shaun also shares his quips with the crowd and Bez chips in with the odd wisecrack – just to add to the appeal of a snappy Friday concert.
There are many die-hards in the gathering and when the lights come in at the end of proceedings one realises what a cross-section of the population has backed the cause of Madchester! I have been lucky enough to have seen Happy Mondays on many occasions. Those viewings have included an open-air extravaganza at the height of their powers via Elland Road, Leeds in 1991 (- and, that gig actually became a live album) plus there was a sorry stint at the Newport Centre in 1993 and that was a shambles! However, many moons on and after two consecutive years of dates at the Uni the Happy Mondays are currently a Yes, Please experience!