Happy Mondays @ Manchester – live review and interview

The Mondays smash the MEN
Its day time Saturday in Manchester and its not even raining, the streets round the Northern Quarter and town centre pubs are full of Mondays fans with nice vibes in the area as the crowds were gearing up to fill the MEN and witness the return of the Happy Mondays play their own city where it all began, with thee original line up, this is ‘The Happy Mondays’! 
2012 has become some sort of a nostalgia year, ‘tripping’ down memory lane but lets be honest, a few years ago you’d of got sectioned for predicting all the MCR bands going on the road again but that’s exactly what’s happened and thank fuck because if you could pick one of your favourite era’s to revisit its has to be 1 of them the best thing is they can all still cut it.
no one would of bett’d on it but The Mondays have pushed all the old madness aside and for the last few weeks have been busy rehearsing for a tour that started 2 nights previous in Newcastle, then to Edinburgh and now the return to where it all happened.
getting in the MEN ticket counter/guest list and guest guest list (the British love ques don’t they) straight away I spot two faces who were part of that seed of people that we all know as that cheesy but internationally known world of madchester, Al Smith and Cressa who both were happy to chat and shake hands and still had a cool about them, as well with 90’s Manchester band ‘The High’s’ Chris Goodwin who also played with Electronic and the early Stone Roses, a total gentleman who’s enthusiasm for Manchester, its music and the people is still evident, another instantly recognisable face was that of Tonn Piper who partnered Shaun Ryder when he left the jungle and went out on his solo tour with Tonn MC’n, only just getting back from touring Europe he’d literally just stepped off the plane but said there was no way he was going to miss this show, and like many other faces and people connected to the band in one way or another they were all there.
But starting the night off was The Inspiral Carpets which made it all the more special, Manchester showed its respect to the band but more so for Clint Boon, it was a sight and sound to hear has the crowd started up the chant of ‘Boon Army’ as Clint fired his Farfiser into ‘Joe’ with original front man Stephan Holt fronting the band sounding like he’d never been away, and though a big Tom Hingley fan myself it was Stephan’s roots that made it more punk than pop suiting the occasion even more, the Inspirals ripped through Directing Traffic, This is How it Feels and other gems that sounded magic in the arena, still cool as…
Then The Mondays, I swear everyone was on their feet from the off and it stayed like that through out the set, a gig, a party, call it what you want played a mix of the older tunes like 24 hour party people to Loose Fit which all oozed along, in fact for me it was one of the best gigs of their’s Id ever seen, never saw the early 80’s stuff as I was still into Beastie Boys busy nicking VW signs but from the Mondays gigs Ive seen that was way the best show I’ve seen from them which sought of caught you off guard as to be honest I wasn’t sure what the night would be like, but as soon as they took the stage you knew it all made sense, the songs sounded so good live, and the band spot on.
What was impressive was Shaun and his overall stage work like Manchester’s own Dan Martin with his little quips between songs, all he had missing was the suite and brandy. In the past he’s been know to sometimes slip a bit of paper out his back pocket to remind himself of some of the lyrics but Mr Ryder played it cock on and in great voice, and I don’t mean nothing do to with extras! just the music and stage presence and even changing the odd lyric to suite the occasion, and singing with Rowetta, who as ever looked great, her backing singing was massive with that big Diva vocal she has, the pair steamed through the classics with some of the highlights being the little extended instrumentals at the end which kept it everyone on their toes, Gaz faultless beat, Mark’s melody licks with PD’s keys all came together, it was more than a great night, fuck nostalgia…this was a Mondays gig for real and if you get the chance to catch them, go, it wont be 2012 for long.
the after show party at MOHO with Bez, MC Tunes Vince Vega and MVITA provided some loud and ‘banging’ tunes for the Manchester crowds to soak up after the gig, especially MVITA with their live and very funky dance floor set that had Mondays fans and clubbers alike grooving into the early hours, all in all and very special night, The Mondays played a blinder with the Inspirals and with some nice Manchester Vibes in the Area it made it a night to remember. 
As a big fan of The Happy Mondays it was great to get the chance to put a few questions to drummer Gaz Whelan for LTW as well as comments from Paul Davis and Mark Day

Gaz Whelan

same again Gaz, what was it like all original members up there doing it again, nervy! 
Yeah, it was good on stage but its hard to tell if we played great tonight, but we played better last night and the first night was great, but nah…I don’t really get nerves 
You started off quite young on the kit didn’t you
Yeah me and PD, he was a bass player originally, we used to be in a mod band back at school, the three of us doing Who covers, my Gran bought it me, I had my Jibbs on my dad side and Scots on my mums side so they liked a drink and a bit of music and that but it was my Gran that got me my kit.
I was at school and a friend of mine, a girl, her older sister was marrying Shaun just as I joined the band, I’d seen Paul about and seen Shaun as well and I thought he just looked dead cool. Then they’d come round asking me to join their band, then Mark would come to my house and start asking if I wanted to join his band but I couldn’t work it out because Mark was a heavy rocker and I didn’t think it was the same band, you know what I mean, and It was the same fuckin band!…and Marks younger brother was in my class and he told me it was the same band, but I didn’t believe him at first…couldn’t get me head round it!
Whats it like seeing all age groups out there tonight, old Mondays fans and the kids, the ones who got into Kasabian and wanting to find the source of that style, sound and vibe you lot created
Yeah great, the kids..I think my dad probably made them come..hahah, I’m stuck behind the kit so its hard to tell really but its great, Kasabian, there fans of the band, well they were but not to sure now, they used to say they were anyway.
A run of the mill question this really but whats your Fave Mondays tune
Bobs ya Uncle…when Tony Wilson died we were at the funeral and they played Atmosphere by Joy Division but then as they carried the coffin out they started playing Bob’s ya Uncle and we didnt even know! we just fuckin crumbled… we asked his daughter after and she said she asked the priest ‘please play Bob’s ya Uncle’ so the prist said ‘whats it like’ and she said a little bit naughty but he did agree to it and it meant a lot, you know.

Rehearsals, how did they go
Yeah, Initially we had a few arguments and that, nothing much, just getting it right, The Roses have gone through the same thing, they started out as mates then fell out but now they’ve sorted it all out and getting on, that’s what it is, you all get on then the past might crop up, but you get it sorted then move on.
You and Paul, I aren’t a musician but I know that rhythm section is what the band musically are built on yeah
Me and Paul Have always been best mates, in fact if its worth anything its just that, you know what I mean
You once said some thing like “I’m not Cozy Powell, I drum for the tune”
well there’s two types of drummers, the session drummers and a drummer that gets involved in the song writing and everything, I write and put it together as well but I just happen to play drums you know, I follow the singer and though I love Kieth Moon when I go watch a band I don’t watch the drummer, some drummers do go to gigs and just watch the drummer but I could never do that
Do you think the band now gets the musical credit you deserved, instead of journo’s talking about the chaos of it all
Well it didn’t matter really, I think we were all kind of insecure really, I don’t think we thought we were worthy I suppose.
But now in 2012 it must be great looking back, seeing what you’ve done, the Mondays spawned others to do the same, how does that feel 
Yeah, that’s the best thing that, though I don’t really hear it that much as were in the eye of the storm but people do say it, were just a normal band you know but its still great
Tell me, did you ever think this reunion, the full line up would be playing again
I never wanted it to happen again
you didn’t !
No, I wasn’t interested but then I saw it like trying to prove a point so that was my angle on it, but it is good going out doing it again and the shows have been great.
and lastly what plans do you have after the tour, are you going to crack on with The Hippy Mafia, the group have some great tunes
Back to Canada, where I live then back to England, down south, Im looking for a house at the moment and going to start working again on ‘The Hippy Mafia’

Paul Davis
So how was that then Paul, playing MEN tonight
yeah, great, I got the sound I wanted and it was all really calm, I’m sober you see and I haven’t had a drink for 16 years so I felt a lot sharper,good night.
Respect for that then Paul, this was the 3rd night of the tour, how did the other shows go, for you, the sequences to each tune and playing these songs again
Newcastle first then Glasgow last night and both went real well, we’ve been busy rehearsing for the last 2 weeks and they went real well so yeah, you know, as for the programmes/sequences, they’re all on the hard drive.
I know its early on still Paul but whats the vibes like within the band
Well I cant predict wants going to happen but I know I’m quite settled, as a band we don’t have to talk about music, me Paul, Mark, Bez, Shaun we all just stick together and have a fucking good time and write some good stuff, its getting me wanting to do more now!
Mark Day
Ive asked the other lads because its been some time since this line up has played together live, any nerves starting the tour Mark
Do you know what I’ve buried my nerves because if you get nerves you…its like I nearly had ittonight but it was just a case of focusing on doing the job, getting it done and then partying, I think in the olden days we used to do a lot of shows nervous as fuck but I think we’ve controlled that by age but its good in one way because the last 2 gigs we’ve done I’ve not been nervous at all and thats how I’ve approached it.
Whats it like having to come back to this schedule, touring etc 
Ive been running, I’ve been keeping fit, and I’m also looking forward to City beating Newcastle  
Again I want to cover the music of the Mondays, whats your roots Mark, that style you have, where did it come from
Well I’m actually dyslexic, I can read music and that but I cant spell, I’ve got a book with about 2000 chords in it but it doesn’t matter, its how you use them, music is an experimental thing. I was like a surfer of 70’s 80’s and 90’s music, I was brought up on Deep Purple Led Zeppelin and the old classics, I was brought up in 61 and went through the Beatles,The Rolling Stones and the fashion that went with it. So my playing was a more advanced when I met the Mondays so I tried to to teach them how to play in my loft. I was the only one who’d write and read music, you know.
Basically I was working at the post office at the time and I knew Derek, Shaun’s dad and I was into Frank Zappa and I had this trilogy of his where he plays different scales, then I met this guy who could do all this so I went to Farmworth I met these 2 guys Derek and Barrie, They had been doing cabaret stuff and this is 5am and they had some of this make up on still because they started workat 6am, bit surreal but I got talking to them about guitars because I’d just started learning the guitar playing along to tapes I got with the NME and the actual theory of that is what I’m doing now with teaching, which is how to simply play music for kids these days, there’s loads of different formats but its also about colours and scales and that type of thing so they just invited me round to do an audition with Matt and Pat Carroll from Central Station at Paul and Shaun’s Mum and Dads house and I got told to learn this song, I think it was ‘Radio Transmission’, or something, Just 2 chords and I was into doin all sorts of things you know and I’d just got my Pro-Arab 2 guitar brand new and Matt comes round with this really budget guitar in a bin liner, that was the difference.
So that’s the birth of the musical mish-mash of the band, Paul and Gary doing the punk/post punk thing and you covering the classic rock’n’roll stuff
I’d never heard of Joy Division, I’d listen to Queen and pop songs and would go watch Deep Purple at the Apollo so I was from a total different back ground from where these guys were coming from, so I did the audition and played this tune and its like just 2 chords, peice of piss you know..haha, and so the rest his history
I moved around a lot back then because my dad was a post office inspector so I never got settled in an area really but when we had the attic I would practice in the loft and the lads would come round, it was like I’d got some mates at last…haha
The House thing is the rhythm section and me and Paul do the magic, the sugar and spice and its interesting because the rhythm section just goes on solid with the melody over the top, there’s a lot melody going on, I cant change my style – I tried and thats why I disappeared, its true…I retired and I gave it up, you know, know one wanted me so I thought ‘fuck it’ and then its 17 years later and I get the phone call and they say “we need you now” and here we are.
the music always seemed to take a back seat in the press though, which is kinda cool and sort of left you wondering how the group put those tunes together, we never really got to hear you,PD,Paul and Gaz talk about it 
You see only musicians understand that, how and where it came from, Shaun and Bez did all the publicity stuff but no one asked the musicians where it came about, I know where it came about, every song I can say how it came about
But we were so used to it, it wasn’t good for the ego’s because we knew in those days it was all about the fashion, how many drugs you did, but you know what?…I was tempted to be a Kieth Richards, Shaun tried everything on me, he was a schizophrenic, it was a Jekyll and Hyde scenario you know.
But I knew that if I turned into that I wouldn’t of been able to write and you’ve got to keep sharp, guitarists have to know what they’re doing. I could tune my guitar up like Kieth Richards dead easy but I’m not like that, I like to think about what I’m doing because its so competitive out there, you cant just do the cabaret shit and that’s why I tried to think about that alternative some thing that hasn’t been tried before and that’s not easy.

All them melodies and guitar-lines, espacailly on ‘Bummed’ covering over that rthynm section really stood out
Well I got to the point where the key that we used…you can only do so much with 3 chords and a lot of the Mondays stuff was like that, you know something like Status Quo if you want, and Shaun sings in a certain key and you get a bit like ‘I need some thing else’. People I’ve been working with Like Mark Pears and people like that have spurred me on, like he came 2nd in guitar player magazine and I’m listening to these guys and Im thinking fuckin hell I better get my act together, they play anything- gypsy Jazz at the moment, fuckin brilliant.
whats next
playing it by ear…

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