‘Hallelujah’ it’s Friday night, and what better way to get the weekend off to a glorious start than in the company of the Happy Mondays.
With a career spanning back to 1980, the influential indie outfit are presently out on tour across the UK whilst taking a retrospective look back on their career. Tonight’s show marks Shaun Ryder’s second appearance in the region in recent months following a recent Evening with Q and A event at the Riverside in September.
At the top of the evening, Acid House legend Jon DaSilva transports the crowd back to the glory days of the sadly missed Hacienda, which in turn sets the tone for the night ahead. The Geordies, many of whom arrive in bucket hats and fluorescent clothing are more than up for the occasion and dance wholeheartedly throughout to DaSilva’s set of floor-filling epics.
But at approximately 9 pm, the Mondays get the weekend underway, making this a Happy Friday. At the top of the set Kinky Afro and Loose Fit nostalgically transports the audience back to the band’s heyday. Rowetta takes to the stage twirling her leather tassels whilst adding a touch of glamour to the group, and her voice is still as impressive as ever.
Bez who is the shaman of the band prowls the edge of the stage all night, spurring on the crowd with his trademark moves and brandishing his maracas. One of which he throws out into the crowd, making a nice souvenir for one lucky fan. Bez largely leaves the talking to Shaun Ryder, but he does interject with a verse of Fog on the Tyne at one point, which is welcomed by the locals.
Visuals featured on screens at the rear of the stage, and a laser light show that would make Pink Floyd even a tad envious further enhance tonight’s proceedings. And with a large proportion of the setlist being taken from the band’s seminal album Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches, this show sees the Manchester legends at their very best.
Happy Monday’s sound is unmistakable and has unquestionably influenced so many of their peers over the years. The infectious melody of Rave On and Clap Your Hands sweeps the crowd away. Whilst Rowetta and Shaun, who share vocal duties on Bob’s Your Uncle, momentarily slows down proceedings whilst transporting those in attendance to Manumission and the Ibiza renaissance of the early 90s.
A rare performance of Tart Tart is one of just a small smattering of songs in the set from the band’s debut album. And with its funky bass-heavy groove it certainly hits the spot.
The closing stages of the show is packed full of back to back baggy anthems. The sentiment of tunes like 24 Hour Party People certainly rings true in Newcastle tonight. Whereas Hallelujah and Step On are simply timeless and still sound as fresh today as they did back in the day.
To coin a line from the Shaun Ryder’s other band Black Grape tonight the Madchester legends were indeed ‘joyful and triumphant’.