Gig review: Happy Mondays at O2 Academy Leeds
Say what you like about Happy Mondays, and many have down the years, but you simply cannot deny their ability to put on a party, writes ROSS HEPPENSTALL.
Quite remarkably, it was 1980 when the influential Mancunian indie outfit were formed.
Nearly four decades on, they retain their allure and their loyal fanbase are still turning up in their droves to watch them play.
Here they were back in Leeds again as part of a Greatest Hits’ Tour and all their finest tracks were given an airing.
Acid house legend Jon DaSilva, an impressive support act, transports a nostalgic, sold-out crowd back to the glory days of the sadly missed Manchester nightclub Hacienda with a fine DJ set.
Classics such as A Guy Called Gerald by Voodoo Ray are lapped up and, by the time the Mondays arrive on stage, the tone for the night ahead has been set nicely.
The opening riff of fan favourite Kinky Afro sets the crowd moving and prompts a mass singalong.
Long-time band member Rowetta is in fine voice and legendary dancer Mark ‘Bez’ Berry is also at his mercurial best with a set of maracas, compensating somewhat for the poor sound quality from lead singer Shaun Ryder.
That said, it does little to dampen the raucous atmosphere as the Mondays’ setlist delivers endless top tunes such as Loose Fit, Hallelujah, 24 Hour Party People and Dennis and Lois.
Finishing the set with Step On, Happy Mondays are always assured of a warm reception in Leeds and have been for many years.
The Manchester United-supporting band threaten to upset Leeds locals when Rowetta announces she is pleased with their team beating neighbours Manchester City in the Manchester derby earlier that evening.
She then quickly adds: “We need Leeds back in the Premiership! Let’s hope this is your season.”
Cue cheers all round. The Happy Mondays should be around for some time yet and how we should all raise a glass to that.