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Review: Happy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets, O2 Academy, Leeds
A SELL-OUT crowd, mainly middle-aged polo-top wearing men, packed the O2 Academy in Leeds to relive the Hacienda days on Thursday, for a Happy Mondays reunion.
Support act the Inspiral Carpets warmed up the crowd, with a not-so-subtle, but a propos of nothing, dig at Blur, and played a solid set, ending with a hectic singalong of Saturn 5.
Twenty minutes later, a familiar, lanky frame strolled on stage to cheers from the crowd, and after leading a Yorkshire chant, Bez introduced the headliners, reunited for the first time in 19 years in Yorkshire, and the band launched into Loose Fit.
Predictably, the crowd went berserk, as a sea of vintage sportswear marched on the spot and relived their youth while the band pounded out respectable renditions of their late-80s, early-90s classics.
Bez rejoined the band for Kinky Afro, but appeared sparingly throughout the show, with the focus instead on Shaun and Paul Ryder, Gary Whelan, Mark Day, Paul Davis and Rowetta Satchell, all on top form.
After a stripped-down and disappointingly bland solo gig at Fibbers in November, it’s clear that Shaun Ryder is far more comfortable when surrounded by his old band, and he manages to be charming and entertaining between songs, while his singing voice hasn’t changed a bit since 1990’s Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches.
The band sounded great, with friendly banter and tight performances, but Rowetta stood out most consistently, still oozing sexuality and confidence, holding her own with the boys, and belting out backing vocals in her own, unmistakable style.
Crowd interest ebbed and flowed between album tracks and anthems, but the nostalgic atmosphere and good will made it a gig to remember.