Happy Mondays: Academy, Liverpool


‘It’s carnage out there, foookin’ caaarnage…’

That’s Shaun Ryder‘s eloquent assessment as he props his sunglasses onto the rim of his baseball cap for the umpteenth time allowing his beady eyeballs to survey the mass of sweaty bodies crammed into Liverpool’s Carling Academy.
You sense he does it to check that you’re still here, that he’s still here and indeed that the figure resembling the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz – he with the windmilling limbs and scraggly beard, Captain Bez of Planet Far-Gone – is also still here flailing around on the lip of the stage.
Of course we’re still here. It comes as more of a surprise that The Happy Mondays are here. After the drugs, lawsuits, in-fighting, busts, drugs, implants, hiring, firing, deaths, drugs and ‘just going for a KFC-ing’ it is a small wonder that Salford’s musical savages are back with us, and indeed looking healthier than ever.
Gone are the smack, crack and milkshake diets replaced by an ever-so slightly slimmed down Shaun, armed with a new record, Uncle Dysfunktional, which, while finishing some way short of their Pills ‘n’ Thrills peak, shows them fighting back to full fitness.
As it is there’s a whole host of newies thrown into tonight’s indie-disco massacre, almost all of which is lapped up by the sell-out throng. And what a diverse mixture of characters we have; there’s the ‘was-there-then’ sporting a pot-belly, leathery skin and penchant for chewing the side of their face. There’s the post-Britpop casuals tanning the lager and throwing worse dance moves than Uncle Bez. And there’s also a fair share of youngsters gleefully taking the piss out of the 40-year-olds practising one last time at being teenagers.
Of the newies Angels & Whores is rampant, slurring sexadelica, In The Blood carries a certain stodgy charm and lead single Jellybean is prime Mondays. The only dud arrives in the form of the Cuntrydisco which is as daft as it is repetitive and even Ryder seems disinterested.
But its the hits of old which spark fits of delirium. Warmed up with a barrage of Haçienda-inspired house, opener Kinky Afro sends the Academy spiralling back to 1990 with Rosetta-lookalike ramping proceedings to the max with salacious soulfunk backing.
From there the tunes drip like the sweat bucketing from Bez’s brow; Loose Fit, 24-Hour Party People (dedicated to Tony Wilson), Hallelujah and their signature tune Step On guarantee much freaky dancing.
But it is the surprise inclusion of Black Grape‘s ultra-hip Reverend Black Grape and an even more marvellous rendition of God’s Cop which completes a quite remarkable resurrection for Madchester’s favourite sons.
picture courtesy of gigwise.com/Sakura Henderson