Gig review: Happy Mondays at O2 Academy Leeds

THIS one will have been marked onto calendars across West Yorkshire and beyond for many months now. Like the band, the Happy Mondays' loyal army of fans are a little greyer around the temples now and are at a stage in life when a big night out needs a bit of planning, rather than just happening off-the-cuff.

Happy Mondays. Picture: Paul Husband
Happy Mondays. Picture: Paul Husband

So babysitters booked and determined to roll back the years, the crowd in a packed O2 Academy was revved up and ready. Warmed up by an early pint or two and a string of Hacienda classics – A Guy Called Gerald’s Voodoo Ray and Lil Louis French Kiss among them – the place felt ready to explode as the Mondays stalked onto the stage.

Touring to celebrate 30 years since the release of their 24 Hour Party People album, the set drew mainly from Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches, the band knowing what their fans want to hear. First up was Loose Fit, arguably the band’s best song, the crowd roaring back as favourite after favourite was served up.

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While Hallelujah is a mainstay of Mondays’ sets, this one saw a run out for two others from the Madchester Rave On EP, while Freaky Dancin’ released in 1986, also popped up. The band were enjoying themselves, Shaun Ryder bantering away, bassist brother Paul Ryder as silent and unsmiling as ever, Rowetta twirling her tassels, Bez stripped to the waist.

They finished with Holiday, off stage in good time for the fans to make the last bus home.

Like the band, their followers still know how to Rave On – memories of this night will keep them smiling until the next tour, when, somehow, those classic old songs will sound as fresh as ever.