Happy Mondays at Brighton Dome - review

Bez and Mark 'Cowhead' Day at the end of triumphant Happy Mondays gig at Brighton Dome
Bez and Mark 'Cowhead' Day at the end of triumphant Happy Mondays gig at Brighton Dome

They might now look more like 24-hour call out plumbers than 24-hour party people but the Happy Mondays still rock a righteous ragged groove.

Middle-aged ne’er do wells swarmed in and around the Brighton Dome in record numbers for a dab of good-time nostalgia from the bad-boys of Baggy who were back in town as part of a greatest hits tour.

Things didn’t bode well after a sluggish and fairly lumpy couple of openers, including a squandered Kinky Afro.

To start with the band, all but one of the original gang, seemed game but the sound was stodgy and the light show was the only thing threatening to bliss anyone or anything out.

But the Mondays shabby magic was never about being tight musicians or Salford’s Sly and the Family Stone, and with a mighty, booming Loose Fit, the old unlikely alchemy began to kick in.

Shaun Ryder has said the sex and drugs are now out of the picture and it’s just about the rock and roll, and despite spending the whole gig under the rim of a black baseball cap (presumably as protection after

a recent attack of alopecia) he’s still a singularly charismatic frontman.

Swigging from a bottle of apple juice, occasionally forgetting the words, and squinting at the set list like it was written in Sanskrit, the reality TV show industry’s loss is everyone else’s gain.

Bez wasn’t quite the goggle-eyed, perpetual-moving maraca-shaking loon of yore and a pair of knee-supports (worn discreetly underneath his long shorts) are now part of the freaky-dancing vibe.

Rowetta provided some all-important ballast to their structure, either carrying Ryder’s vocals or giving him a slap for an overtly-obscene reinterpretation of the already filthy lyrics to Bob’s Yer Uncle.

She was an elegant but gutsy presence, with big moves in tinsel and tassels.

The set thundered on and was all the better for the hefty backing tracks which added a little bit of clout to the Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches opening favourite Dennis and Lois and the wandering chugging basslines of Rave On.

Their lairy call to arms of 24-Hours Party People was chaotic but convincing, and pepped up an already pumped up crowd, some whom surprisingly looked as if they weren’t even born in 1989, while others

moved like they hadn’t been out since 1989 and gobbled down a boisterous Hallelujah like it was the last bottle of water in an Ibizan bar.

After a closing salvo of a buzzing Step On, far from being tired old re-tread their indie-club floor-filler, and an encore of the oft-remixed dance beast Wrote for Luck, they left a dazed, adoring, and largely 40-something crowd in their grubby funky wake.