by Rob Jones

The Happy Mondays got the punters in early at the Utilita Arena, Cardiff as Stereo MCs and the Inspiral Carpets were in support and it was obvious that the public wanted to sample the whole bill. The crowd was a bonanza of the beautiful, the breathtaking, the battered, the bruised and the bizarre – and, it all made for an excellent spectacle!

The band arrived with a three pronged attack. Rowetta was awash with astonishing attire, Bez appeared is if he had just been on gardening duties and Shaun Ryder sported his usual urban designer – football hooligan style. Rowetta could shatter glass with her booming voice, Bez would be able to power the National Grid with his energetic dancing and Ryder enters and is then glued to the spot – full of comical quips but also riddled with a ropey throat issue.

Proceedings kick off and the iconic 1990 Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches long player forms the nucleus of the set. I have seen the Mondays on many occasions and it was weird not to absorb the basslines of the sadly passed Paul Ryder. However, the other originals – Mark Day and Gaz Whelan played their parts in the show as did the rest of the crew.

The core of their acclaimed album is dissected and a few different textures are added to the sounds of the naughty nineties. If you coat that majesty with previous prizes such as Mad Cyril and 24 Hours Party People and post precision in the form of Rave On and Hallelujah – you have got on the whole a fans favourite package. Although, Wrote for Luck as a set closer always ups the ante. I have been fortunate to have seen the Mondays in the prime of their legendary Elland Road, Leeds (1/6/1991) gig (later released as ‘Live’). At the same time the opportunity to witness the fall out of a Newport Centre show (16/10/1992) declared that a first incarnation of the classic line up was in disarray.

To absorb the likes of: Kinky Afro, God’s Cop, Donovan, Dennis & Lois, Loose Fit and Step On fired out with a few twists and turns is to be spoiled. Even though time takes its toll on us all and there has been the odd glitch in the Mondays mechanics tonight it is always a treat to be entertained with nmore than just music. Mr. Maracas gives 110% and the public simply adore him. Rowetta could have been heard back in Manchester. Day was on splendid from with some astute six string skills and the rest of the operatives provided a steady back beat. Sadly, Shaun was struggling and the gig was cut short as his voice had gone as far as it could and credit to him for sticking with it until he departed obviously frustrated with his ailment. Henceforth, there was no encore.

The nostalgia and euphoria take the Mondays’ faithful back to their youths – and, their eternal anti-heroes fuel a fire but a busy touring schedule can take its toll and the outlandish hedonistic leanings of Mr Ryder has certainly given his body an outing over the years. Although those vocal muscles are always under duress and tonight he braved it out to the limits. As a result the Welsh capital experienced a Saturday Night Fever in more than one way, but a date with these Lancastrian legends is definitely worth an evening out.

Those yesteryears had the charts offer a diverse landscape, Top of the Pops was a worthwhile watch and the manic Mondays were a top combo. As regards 2024 the band are still a viable force because their tunes will always be a unique union of the past and future.