Music review: Happy Mondays, O2 Academy, Glasgow

Shaun Ryder and Bez of Happy Mondays PIC: Ian Georgeson
Shaun Ryder and Bez of Happy Mondays PIC: Ian Georgeson
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The opening number of Happy Mondays’ current set, Kinky Afro, features a frank exchange of views between a father and son. But there was more evidence of generations being bridged at this show by one of the key bands of the “Madchester” indie rave era. Fans who would not have been born when the immortal epithet “you’re twisting my melons man” was first uttered mingled with men and women of a certain age reliving their party past in controlled circumstances.

Happy Mondays, O2 Academy, Glasgow ****

In this context, Fat Cops were a shrewd choice of opening act. This motley supergroup, featuring Al Murray, aka the Pub Landlord, on drums, Robert Hodgens, aka Bobby Bluebell, on guitar and Neil Murray, aka Mr JK Rowling, on keyboards, are living out their mid-life crisis in unabashed style, with a catchy set of punk, garage and indie songs about hanging out, getting your kicks and other adolescent pursuits.


The indie funk of Hands Up! Get Down! provided a taster of what was to come in the headline set while a hint of mortality crept in with a burst of the Jim Carroll Band’s rocking requiem People Who Died.


While some members of the party-happy Mondays are probably lucky to be alive, there are no questions over the longevity of their idiosyncratic music which anchored the traditional element of chaos and confusion in their performance.


Frontman Shaun Ryder performed with baseball cap pulled down over his face like he was constantly trying to avoid detection, in contrast to singer Rowetta twirling her cheerleader tassels and wingman Bez, shaking his maracas with alacrity and breaking out his signature dance moves with the glee of a man who knows he has the best job in the world.


A mangled version of Donovan, the wah-wah funk of God’s Cop and snake-hipped groove, house rhythm and acid guitar of Loose Fit were all drawn from their hit third album, Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches, but earlier tracks such as Clap Your Hands and the classic 24 Hour Party People were a reminder that Happy Mondays always took the music, if not themselves seriously.


Rainbow lasers beamed across the heads of the crowd as they raved on through the ecstatic Hallelujah and irresistible Step On. These days though, the all-night party has been truncated to a trim ninety minutes, culminating in Wrote For Luck before things got too messy. Fiona Shepherd