Review: James and Happy Mondays

by Danny Munro

Tuesday night saw a St Andrew’s day takeover of Glasgow’s biggest music venue by two titans of the old-school Manchester indie scene. 

Happy Mondays were first up on the double-header, providing the crowd with a solid, if fairly reserved rendition of nine of their greatest hits.

‘Kinky Afro’ got the evening underway; the iconic rave hit was still able to rouse a party atmosphere from the Glasgow crowd some thirty years on from it’s release. Even if Sean Ryder’s voice isn’t quite what it once was, (it’s definitely not), vocalist Rowetta was able to do most of the heavy lifting. 

Veteran ‘dancer’ Bez was on fine form. Bouncing merrily from stage left to right the whole evening, the recent Celebrity MasterChef star paused only to banter with Ryder and salute those dancing with him down at the barrier.

The set went more or less how Monday’s fans could have expected, ’24 Hour Party People’, ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Step On’ all still sounded how they should: fun. Perhaps the only possible complaint was the venue choice, it’s hard to disagree that at this stage in the bands career, a more intimate setting like the Barrowlands would do them a world of good.

Up next were veteran indie rockers James. Opting for a different approach to their support act, James made good use of their time in Glasgow, performing no less than eighteen tracks in a solid two-hour set.

Almost forty years since their formation, live performance has always been the central focus of James and it’s not hard to see why. Whether a deep cut from an older album, or one of their biggest hits, each track rang around the Hydro and the nine-piece band made gigging look easy.

Running the show from start to finish was lead singer and engrossing character Tim Booth. The sixty-one year old, who’s unique dancing style is enough to make Bez look boring, powered his way through each song. The scale of the show did not phase Booth in the slightest – and I suspect he could have filled the Hydro acapella with his impressive falsetto voice. 

Perhaps not an issue for the die-hard supporters in the crowd but I suspect for many, myself included, the set could have been shortened. Highlights of the night included big hits like She’s a Star and Come Home, but in parts the crowd seemed to slightly lose their way with the set – five songs of which came from their recent full-length summer release All the Colours of You. The band eventually made their way out for an encore, ending triumphantly on fan-favourites ‘Sit Down’ and ‘Laid’, and dad dancing was aplenty. As the merry crowd staggered their way back to Finnieston, past the bucket-hat seller and the acoustic guitar player who sang the Sit Down hook back to them, it was clear that the spirit of Madchester has not quite left Glasgow.