The Happy Mondays / The Farm - London Brixton Academy - 25/3/05

31 Mar 2005

shameless retrospective evening to the e-d up days of the hacienda. only held in south london. still, at least the ticket-touts had drugs.

Billed as '48-Hour Party People' this weekender return was always going to be messy - and not just because of past, shamelessly shambolic performances by Shaun Ryder's touring circus, aka Happy Mondays, but the coached-in Madchester crowd were going to be hell-bent on trying to re-live those Hacienda days. The omens were not looking good. Although, we were slightly relieved that we hadn't secured tickets for Saturday night's performance with the tribute band 'The Clone Roses' in support.

Happy Mondays

On our way to the venue we are greeted by the familiar questions from the ticket-touts: 'Anybody want tickets or pills?' Thankfully we declined both. With memories of The Farm's anthemic 'All Together Now' and the Mondays' glorious 'Step On', we bounce into the venue.

Tonight's gig was presented by Xfm DJ Shaun Keavney, and with guest DJs Clint Boon (ex-Inspiral Carpets) and the legendary 'Sir Arthur Baker', it had the potential of redeeming itself - once you forgot that you were surrounded by carpet-fitters in narcosis t-shirts. The Mondays' support act The Farm provided some tasty songs. The favourites 'Groovy Train' and, erm, 'All Together Now' sway us - although the latter did naggingly remind us of what it would be like to attend the Labour Party Conference, circa 1997 dancing with Prescott and Mandie. Shiver.

But, God bless Bez, the post-acid crazed dancer from the Happy Mondays and winner 'Celebrity Big Brother'. Bez on cue, grooved onstage a little after 9:30pm with the rest of the band, donning a t-shirt with the sloganeering 'Drop Acid Not Bombs' and wielding a very fetching pair of yellow maracas. Bez is a man who has based his entire career on his maracas-playing and dancing on the spot, as if his life depended it. He didn't disappoint this evening; neither did the fabulous funky support who injected life into, especially, the opening 'Kinky Afro' and the finale '24-Hour Party People'.

The low-point had to be Shaun Ryder's 'singing' to 'Hallelujah' in which people with a nervous disposition exited with/on speed to the bar area. Mr Ryder - whose neck seemed to have disappeared into his shoulders - is living proof that excessive drug-taking and drinking does do considerably damage to the old vocal chords.

One can only imagine how glorious the Madchester scene was in its heyday. Tonight tried damned-hard to find that spirit. All that remained for the 48-Hour Party People in attendance was to go to the after-show party with special guest Mani, of course. We hardly had a choice, did we?

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