A real hint that the Happy Mondays are finally maturing is their new set of promo shots — maybe their only half-sensible photos in three decades.
The Mondays class of 2017 look like they’re extras in a Guy Ritchie gangster movie, rather than a bunch of headers who’ve been on a bender for a fortnight. And Shaun Ryder — once the biggest drug bin in UK music circles — is now a teetotaller whose biggest vice is vegan ice cream.
The Happy Mondays have the most chaotic story of any of the 80s and 90s Madchester and acid house crossover scenes, and they’re on the road to mark 30 years since their first album, (deep breath) Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out). The album was a ragged and jangly shape of things to come, and lent its name to the film 24 Hour Party People, the story of Factory Records and the surrounding Madchester scene.
The Mondays secured their lasting legacy with Bummed in 1988 and Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches in 1990, with both taking their cue from post-punk propulsiveness, psychedelia and Shaun Ryder’s unique delivery and arched eyebrow surrealism. Pills ‘n’ Thrills & Bellyaches is one of the all-conquering records of the decade, with the money shots for any fans on the comeback buzz, including Kinky Afro, Step On, God’s Cop.
The Mondays’ legacy is one of squandered millions, hedonism and raving while Factory Records and the Hacienda club crumbled around them, but we all love a renegade comeback story. They’ve had several reunions, and this time Ryder it’s the best they’ve ever felt. If they’ve mostly cleaned up their act he’ll be proved correct, although Bez’s knees are bound to be giving in after 30 years as their loose-jawed, wild-eyed maracas man and official mascot.
- Happy Mondays play Vicar Street tonight, December 15