Happy Mondays


As chants of “Manchester lalala” echo round Manchester Academy, an ailing yet constantly gyrating 40-something-year-old man lets out a roar.

“This is how we fucking do it Manchester!”

Just like the prodigal son, the Happy Mondays are home, and they bring with them a back catalogue of floor fillers that can be heard at every indie and alternative night up and down the country. And on this snowy December night, I was there witnessing one of Manchester’s biggest exports returning home.

This was a hometown gig and there was an energy in the air. You can still tell they are very much a Manchester band, proud of their roots.

As the streams of people flood into the venue, it is clear they all fall under two categories; the pilled-up pissed-up 40 somethings, desperately trying to recapture the pills, thrills and bellyaches that defined their youth; and their kids… bucket hat wearing, pilled-up, pissed-up 16-18 year olds, who seem to hell-bent to try to live in a scene they were never part of, all wearing the same Adidas trackie top, sunglasses and the worst array of hats since Aintree.

After an hour or so of waiting, the lights dim, and there is a rush of energy in the venue. The crowd, once sparsely stood, now form a 500 or so strong cohort around the stage. And as soon as the Happy Mondays come on, an infectious energy spreads across the venue and all those within the room begin to dance and gyrate as purple and blue lights flash past them, giving all those hit with the light a ghostly hue. As the choral intro to ‘Hallelujah’ slowly fades in, the already energetic crowd rips into a frenzy, with the atmosphere in the venue feeling like two lines of speed and half a pill in the back of fighter jet. Bez acts like a conductor to the carnage, constantly twisting and contorting his body, whist occasionally roaring “this is how we fucking do it”, which acts like a rallying cry for the rowdy masses.

As the night of pounding driving bass lines, bombastic drums and half sung Manc vocals comes to an end, the intro to ‘Wrote for Luck’ rings through the venue. The now drained crowd are given another swell of energy, sending the crowd into one last frenzy, and through the sea of flailing arms and buckets hats, I see a now exhausted Bez takes the mic one last time.

“Give me a peace sign Manchester”, and as the ailing band members clamber off stage, the cries of “Manchester lalala” echo round the emptying venue.

Rock and roll is often perceived as a young man’s game, however the Happy Mondays are proving that wrong. There’s a certain art to growing in old in the music industry and the Happy Mondays seem to have mastered it.

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