Review: The Happy Mondays – Live @ The Olympia (May 15th 2012)
It’s my belief that history is a wheel. “Inconsistency is my very essence” -says the wheel- “Rise up on my spokes if you like, but don’t complain when you are cast back down into the depths. Good times pass away, but then so do the bad. Mutability is our tragedy, but it is also our hope. The worst of times, like the best, are always passing away” – Boethius, (524 AD) (and err – Tony Wilson apparently)
It’s been 32 years since The Happy Mondays first formed in Manchester, 25 since their first album, 22 since they hit global success, 10 years since the film 24 Hour Party People brought them a second wave of mass interest and here they are again, reformed and ready to rock. If Boethius was correct and history is a wheel, then the Mondays are strapped to perpetual motion. Tonight, the original line-up of the band are back together and playing their first Dublin show since….well, last night actually. The original line-up, the always gorgeous and incredible Rowetta and fellow Madchester legends; Inspiral Carpets – it’s going to be a good one – F**kin’ MAD4IT!
Opening the show at the happily wedged Olympia are the carpets. Clint Boon passes up the decks for his customary keyboards and along with singer, Stephen Hall keep the crowd on their toes for a good 40 minutes. Classic tracks like ‘Joe’, ‘She Comes In The Fall’, ‘This Is How It Feels’, ‘I Want You’ and ‘Move’ still sound fresh and get everyone – fan or not; on board, while new track, ‘You’re So Good For Me’ shows the band might have some surprises in store for us further down the line’. A great set from a band that still have a lot to offer and hopefully they’ve made enough of a mark tonight to come back for their own show soon.
With the DJ wrapping up, pints in hand and a packed Olympia; it’s time for the main event. The reported absence of Bez from the tour disappointed some, but as soon as the house lights go down the iconic dancer appears to introduce the band (for the first time in 19 years) before the Mondays strut on to the stage as if they’ve never been apart. Paul, Gary, Mark, Paul Davis, Shaun and Rowetta assemble themselves, kicking off the slow build up on ‘Loose Fit’. Every note echoes everything the crowd loves about the Mondays and proclaims – ‘we are back’. You can’t help but notice how well the iconic (and often infamous) band look and sound these days. Any hesitations that the Mancunian heroes may be past it are instantly dashed as the band thunder through a hit packed set. As the first notes of ‘Kinky Afro’ roar out, Bez returns, maracas in toe; jerking everyone to their feet and with that, the night has well and truly arrived.
‘Donavon’, ‘God’s Cop’, ‘Judge Fudge’ and ‘24 Hour Party People’ pack up the early set which sees Shaun continuingly interacting with the band and fans, even managing to get the notoriously quiet Paul Ryder to say a few words. The band is obviously enjoying the reunion as much as the fans as they smile and joke their way through the gig. ‘Rave On’ and ‘Cowboy Dave’ give hard-core fans a real treat while ‘Hallelujah’ let’s Rowetta’s ever inspiring voice bring the house down. ‘Bob’s Yer Uncle’, ‘Mad Cyril’ and ‘Step On’ (which again sees Bez re-emerge to another rapturous cheer) finish off the main set with a blast before the Mondays come back to attack ‘Jellybean’ from the Monday’s last album, ‘Uncle Dysfunktional’ before closing the night with ‘Wrote For Luck’.
There’s no doubt about it, the Mondays are back and they are still a force to be reckoned with. Hopefully this reunion will carry on for a long time to come because some bands were made to play together and this lot are definitely one of them. Mancunians Rave on!