Contrary to the previous night at the Hammersmith Apollo, The Happy Mondays were in fine form at Camden's Roundhouse last Thursday performing a storming set. Kicking straight off with 'Hallelujah', the Manchester party animals went straight for the jugular, careening their way through their majestic back catalogue.
Shaun Ryder moves around even less than he did before, but this did not detract from the band rolling back the years and creating a proper Christmas carnival. The gobbledygook artistry of Ryder's lyrics could just be made out through his nasal Manchester drawl with his slight slur (brought on no doubt by years of inebriation) evident and indeed adding to the pageantry of it all. Bez danced on a handful of the songs played, seemingly no longer able to do the full set now that he's not bacchanalian and mashed from MDMA mortification. The band sounded tight and together, with Paul Ryder's funk style bass cutting through the house tinged grooves and distorted, loose guitar phrases perfectly - abetted by the encompassing acoustics of one of London's best venues.
The Mondays played to their strengths throughout the gig. Rowetta, in fine fettle and voice, wore a fantastic Mrs. Claus suit and Ryder stood almost immobile to create a great visual against all of the motion around him. Dedicating one track (I cannot remember which one exactly) to "the good people at Customs and Excise" and ironically calling Bez a "slim, good looking, handsome coont", Shaun Ryder played the working class jester adeptly between songs and kept the crowd engaged.
An inspired version of '24 Hour Party People' brought the house down and had the crowd raving like it was 1989 once more. The Mondays worked the audience perfectly and the night was a true success. Encoring with 'Step On' - Rowetta once again showing her voice still holds up on the "he's gonna step on you again" parts - was the only way to go and once finished the band left in an almost seraphic manner, clearly far more sober than they once were.