Gig review: Happy Mondays at 02 Leeds Academy

Shaun Ryder & Co bring the Hallelujah chorus to back to Yorkshire.
Happy Mondays. Picture: Paul HusbandHappy Mondays. Picture: Paul Husband
Happy Mondays. Picture: Paul Husband

The Happy Mondays have played many times in Leeds down the years, but this was surely one of their finest performances yet.

The iconic Manchester band were the headline act on a brilliant night of indie music which saw the Stereo MC’s and the Inspiral Carpets as support acts.

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There was a vibe and energy in the 02 Academy from the moment the Stereo MC’s emerged on stage to play a fine set of hits including Step It Up and Connected.

The Carpets served up some of their own classics such as Saturn 5 and the amazing This Is How It Feels, which prompts a mass singalong.

By the time the Mondays appear at their scheduled stage time of 9.45pm, the atmosphere is electric among the packed audience.

“Son, I’m thirty, I only went with your mother cos she’s dirty,” sings Shaun Ryder as the enduring Kinky Afro kicks things off.

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Ryder sounds good, the band look the part, and right there you just know this is going to be a special gig.

Rowetta is on fine form too, as is Bez, with a maraca in each hand whipping up the crowd and even starting a few ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire’ chants.

The Mondays have rarely sounded better as they rattle off some of their finest tunes from their back catalogue, each performed with their infectious, inimitable groove and swagger.

The enigmatic Ryder still possesses a real stage presence and the chemistry between the band, who first formed in Salford in 1980, is clear to see.

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OK, so there hasn’t been an album from the baggy icons in more than 15 years. But with so many great tracks behind them, the Happy Mondays are a band who continue to attract a huge following.

The setlist included featured several tracks from the band’s seminal album Pills ’n’ Thrills and Bellyaches, including God’s Cop, Donovan, Dennis and Lois, Loose Fit and Step On.

Other highlights included Hallelujah and 24 Hour Party People, which left the adoring crowd longing for more.

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