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Monday 15 April 2024

Review: Happy Mondays & Inspiral Carpets & Stereo MCs @ Brighton Dome Concert Hall

In the late 80s Manchester briefly became Madchester, writes Beat The Clock record shop owner, Stuart Avis. Spearheading the movement were the Happy Mondays, who headlined Brighton Dome Concert Hall, on Sunday, bringing with them friendly rivals Inspiral Carpets and London's boat-missers, Stereo MCs.
Credit Andy Sturmey

Due to the popularity of that society-reconfiguring device known as the mobile phone, at least one Stereo MCs' song is firmly lodged into memory cells across the nation. 

Those less fortunate will remember at least two, good luck spotting the differences between them though. 

However, after thirty-plus years of not being able to stand them, here comes the really annoying bit - they are fucking brilliant live! 

The songs are injected with a life on stage absent from their early 90s' Radio 1 saturating yawns. 

The percussion packs a punch you can feel in your chest, with basslines that threaten to hit the "brown note" any second. 

Vocalist, Rob Birch, may well have a painting in his loft, if not the full Dorian Gray then at least his vocal cords. 

The backing vocalist is never named, but is a complete show of her own. In fact, it's something of a disservice to call someone with that level of stage presence, and a voice dripping with power and personality, simply a backing vocalist. 

It's tempting to remove the first few lines regarding them, but I'll leave them for perspective.  

If this is the impression they can carve on someone that's, shall we say, never been a fan, those that have would be foolish to miss them next time around. Well played Stereo MCs, you finally got me.

With that gauntlet confidently thrown down, Inspiral Carpets had the unenviable task of raising the bar. Fortunately, the Inspirals are one of the reasons the 80s ended on a high and the 90s took flight with a promising start. 

Messy sound hampered the first three songs, but was salvaged in time for the anthemic, Two Worlds Collide.  

This is where they have it nailed - the psychedelic-tinged indie anthem. And they kept coming. 

Roof-lifting singalongs for the sublime This Is How It Feels and, set closer, Saturn 5, are life affirming. 

Elsewhere they effortlessly tackle the garage-end of psyche with raw power. Whilst there's no longer a full compliment of original Inspirals on stage, a great band playing great songs is still a great band playing great songs. 

The Happy Mondays are the final stop for the Dome's DeLorean to Madchester, and here's the weirdest thing of the whole night - Shaun Ryder is in fine voice.Yep, damn fine voice in fact. 

He shouldn't be. Hell, he shouldn't even be alive, but here he is sounding better than ever. 

A trip through their back catalogue, interspersed with Gogglebox-esque interactions between Ryder and long-standing wingman, Bez, keep smiles firmly on faces and feet constantly moving. 

The hits invariably introduce a sea of phones filming in portrait but, for once, no one is paying attention to, what is essentially, filming the phone in front as they move in unison to the Monday's unique blend of house music and 80s NME indie, whilst redefining both. 

Incredibly, we're also celebrating Bez's 60th birthday. How anyone from the Happy Mondays has survived to enter their seventh decade defies all logic, but here they are, still doing it, and still doing it in fine style

by: Stuart Avis




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