It’s been four long years since the Happy Monday’s last played Adelaide. The band formed in 1980 but it would be another eight years before they released their debut album, the eccentric titled Squirrel and G-Man Twenty-Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out). Led by Shaun Ryder, the band became part of the Acid house, Madchester scene along with bands such as The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets and Charlatans, all creating a unique sound that is still popular today. The merch stall was busy working overtime as people entered The Gov.
First on stage were Greenhouse who have a new album out, Centre of the Universe, and they wanted everyone to hear it, with the band playing six tracks off the album in their thirty-minute, seven song set. The band originally formed in the 1990’s but fell apart after only a few years. Thirty years on and they are back.
They started the night with Straight n True and immediately you know why they were given the support role, the band sounding very English. Lavish guitars playing to a backdrop of lush music. Lead singer Michael was singing the words “I am overjoyed to be here” and by the look of him he meant it. The band flowed through Overflow, God-Like and Here I am before reaching back to the 1990’s for the classic See Saw. (There is an amazing clip of this song on YouTube from the 90’s). Two more songs followed from the new album, Home Again, with its hard-core beat pounding out behind the song and Finally Over. Greenhouse is my favourite “new” band, thirty years after they first formed. Check them out.
The stage went dark and with no intro music the Happy Mondays band members filed on stage. Once the music started Rowetta with Bez, came on stage waving tassels and singing “Just what you wanted” over and over before Shaun Ryder joined them for Kinky Afro. Let the party begin. The Gov was packed solid which was good to see. Has the four-day working week started already and everyone had the next day off?
God’s Cop followed with dancer Bez Berry stalking the stage, inciting the audience to have a good time, all the while waving maracas. Bez has been with the band since its inception and while he doesn’t play anything or sing, is probably now more an integral part of the band since Shaun Ryder no longer can dance around the stage.
Donovan followed with its primal drum beat and Rowetta dueted with Shaun on Dennis and Lois. The BBC apparently banned Loose Fit, Shaun told us because of its Gulf War lyrics. And as someone told me before the band came on stage, “without The Happy Mondays and their early E. P’s, there would have been no Stone Roses.” Loose Fit is an example of this.
Some nice guitar from Mark Day on Mad Cyril and it must be complemented that most of the band are still original members from 1980. The band were faultless all night. Tart Tart and Rave On came next and after Rave On Shaun commented “you write some shit when you are young”. However, I am not sure if he meant Rave On or was introducing Bob’s Yer Uncle.
Phones were held high for Hallelujah and stayed up for 24 Hour Party People. A cover of the John Kongos song He’s Gonna Step on You Again closed a short but hit laden set. Bez had a young boy up on-stage dancing with him for the duration of the song, a huge smile on the lad’s face the whole time.
After a small break the band were back for Wrote for Luck, Shaun leaving the stage early, leaving the band to close out the set.
The band were first-rate and while not moving about a lot, Shaun Ryder’s vocals were admirable. But the Happy Mondays never took the music to a higher level as the performance went on, although the audience held onto every beat, every note and every word from the first song.
With The Stones Roses blasting out the car stereo on the way home, I had a smile on my face after witnessing the Mondays.
Live Review By Geoff Jenke