Although Sunday is traditionally a day of rest this one was different. With half the city already in celebratory mode, the others (hopefully) just delaying the promotion party and a bank holiday approaching it was an apt evening for Happy Mondays.
It’s been almost two decades since this original line-up last played Sheffield and although there have been various half-hearted Ryder-led partial reunions since, this was the real deal, the band who for many defined a generation with their lopsided take on pop music- a mixture of influences that shouldn’t really have worked but somehow did, at least before the band collapsed in utter acrimony. As singer Shaun Ryder explains in his entertaining autobiography, it was the chemistry between all the band members that made it work, and once that had gone it was difficult to replicate. However they eventually called a truce and although new material seems not to be on the horizon yet, they have enough decent older stuff to make doing a tour worthwhile, with this venue one of those sold out.
After an entertaining set from another Madchester-era band, Inspiral Carpets, the Mondays made it onto the stage, introduced by their talismanic dancer Bez, who due to creaking bones caused by the ageing process now limits his onstage antics to a couple of songs. And Ryder, despite apparently being naughty substance-free nowadays, still rambles on between songs like someone who has had a few too many.
They also still look like the sort of blokes you’d cross the road to avoid, while you’d probably have to run away to escape from the glamorously intimidating backing vocalist Rowetta, but with a crowd whose attitude was ‘tonight we’re going to party like it’s 1989’ there was little chance they could fail.
Although they arguably left some of their best songs out of the set, it was more than satisfactory and the crowd seemed to love it. There’ll have been more than a few people who had a happy, if hungover, Monday after this show.