Video: Bez, Shaun Ryder and Rowetta ensure the Happy Mondays make it a very happy Monday in Norwich

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It's the day after the weekend on a damp and otherwise dreary November night.

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The Happy Mondays are playing to a largely enthusiastic crowd of mainly 30 to 50-year-olds at the Nick Rayns LCR.

The scene is much removed from when they first stormed the music world some three decades ago.

Back then the Mancunians were at the forefront of the 'Madchester' scene, regularly playing to thousands of hedonists at the legendary Hacienda, as well as festivals and venues all over the world.

In the thirty years since they've split up and reformed numerous times. Band members have experienced enough twists and turns in their lives to make up at least a trilogy of films.


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And now we're back to where it all started - in terms of line up at least, but not quite in terms of looks, energy and, of course, the ability to enjoy the most extreme excesses of a rock and roll lifestyle.

The Mondays have returned to Norwich with the original members in tow as part of a tour to mark the 25th anniversary of their second album 'Bummed'.

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The album is largely credited with being at the forefront of the part rave, part acid house, part funk and part rock and roll movement that emerged in the late 80s.

But does it still work a quarter of a decade on when to most of the band and audience an all night rave sounds nowhere near as preferable as a cup of tea and a nice sit down?

In a word - yes.

The Happy Mondays pull it off thanks to the fact they've maintained the spirit that made them so popular all those years ago - and the fact their fans love them so much for it.

Most of that is down to three people in particular - lead singer Shaun Ryder, backing singer Rowetta and Bez.

Ryder's singing abilities have never been in doubt - he can't sing - but he can spit out fantastic, sometimes brilliantly funny lyrics, with venom and meaning that goes so well with the tunes. That hasn't changed, even if at times he appears to be going through the motions, and even forgets the lyrics every now and then.

Ryder is Marmite to Rowetta's strawberry jam. Her soulful voice adding so much to the Monday's sound. And you know what, that sound, a mixture of funk and rock, is pretty fantastic as well.

Bez, meanwhile, remains the star of the show. He's not there for every song but when he is the crowd ape his every move, each one impressive for a man who is now a grandad.

The best songs remain the most-loved - Mad Cyril, Wrote For Luck and Lazyitis from 'Bummed'.

But they save the best for last, performing a thrilling three song encore of Hallelujah, Kinky Afro and Step On.

The crowd love it, for 15 minutes were back in The Hacienda where it all began - in our heads at least.

Who knows why the band decided to reform after all these years - was it money, love or something else?

Whatever it was it made for a very Happy Monday indeed.

- Leeds four-piece The Sunshine Underground are a fantastic support act. A mixture of indie and dance music they've been around a while so have a set of pulsating songs that would go down a storm headlining at somewhere like the LCR's younger sibling The Waterfront.

Dave Powles

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