Rowetta tweeted me and thanked me for this review, she loved it!
The Happy Mondays @ the Southampton Guildhall 5th November 2015
“It’s been 25 fucking years can you believe it?” Bez proceeds to state after manoeuvring onto the dark blue lit stage accompanied by a roar of cheers from the audience. Following Gary Whelan, Mark Day, Paul Ryder, and Paul Davis, during the introduction song of the evening, Bez truly twisted off his melon, with his two maracas in one hand, and his googly eyes cemented in his head (although his eyes actually look like they are about to pop out) proceeds to get the crowd excited, as he starts his classic bounce movement along to the band. It’s bizarrely hard not to be mesmerized by an old man busting out the same dance moves as he was 25 years ago, but it arguably is the main attraction of the evening.
Vocalist and goddess Rowetta Satchell then explodes onto the stage with her pure soulful powerful voice repeating the words, ‘this is what you’ve been waiting for’ which echoes around the Southampton Guildhall.
The music tones down, sluggishly strolls on Bez’s intoxicated other half Shaun Ryder accompanied by a black leather jacket and blacked out sunglasses – The Black Grape singer, The Hacienda ecstasy giver, and the runner up of the tenth season of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
Shaun gives a family like kiss to Rowetta before slurring the classic opening line to ‘Kinky Afro’, “son I’m thirty, I only went with your mother because she’s dirty”, by this point the crowd is in full swing, bouncing along to the tight sounding music, not many audience members jump and go crazy, it’s not that type of gig. Rowetta finishes the song with such power, but such ease singing “yippy ya yay”.
At some point during this greatly chosen opening song, Bez takes off the jumper he was strangely wearing, like he couldn’t have anticipated five minutes into the set he would get sweltering from moving back and forth, side to side, pleasing the crowd.
A loud high pitched “HALLEUJAH” echoes around the room for the beginning of the club mix version of ‘Hallelujah’ accompanied by a classic 90’s keyboard arrangement and a deep bassline.
Every song in the set has a similar feel, the band hit the room with rhythm, a tight and sharp sounding guitar, and a subtly funky bass guitar. Shaun sounds more like he’s shouting rather than singing, for example during ‘Monkey in the Family’ he slurs the title lyrics “monkey in the family” repeatedly. It’s hard to imagine how much spit is covering the stage. Rowetta professionally owns every note, noticeably proud to be on stage with The Happy Mondays as the chemistry shows, a few kisses are exchanged from her and the boys and she is fierce and confident with her performance. For example during the audience favourite ‘Step On’ just before she projects the words “he’s going to step on you again”, she swiftly moves to the front of the stage and walks up and down like a professional cat walk model, just with a bit more fire.
The Happy Mondays are what they are. Legends in their own right, professionals in their own fucked up way. It works, and that’s why the audience appreciates and steps during the whole set at the Guildhall. It wouldn’t be the same if Shaun didn’t state he was fucked with difficulty to hear what he is saying, and it certainly wouldn’t be the same if Bez wasn’t the same man he was 25 years ago.
‘Let me tell you something, Bez is still the exact same person he was 25 years ago! – Shaun Ryder.