Happy Mondays rolled back the years on a cheery Tuesday in Cork

Every band needs a Bez. In fact, there's a case to be made that every workplace in the country could do with the Happy Mondays' vibes man.

Happy Mondays rolled back the years on a cheery Tuesday in Cork

[rating]4[/rating]

The Happy Mondays rolled back the years with their set at a packed Cyprus Avenue in Cork, writes Des O'Driscoll.

Every band needs a Bez. In fact, there's a case to be made that every workplace in the country could do with the Happy Mondays' vibes man.

Somebody to jump up with a pair of maracas and shake up the energy when things begin to flag.

The 55-year-old gets the loudest cheer of the seven band members as he takes to the stage at a packed opener to a three-date Irish tour.

It's not long before he's into his trademark gyrations and gurning – presumably his jaws working off the muscle memory of an era when him and singer Shaun Ryder went through more chemicals than an average factory in Ringaskiddy.

Clad in black jacket and black baseball cap, the vocalist himself is a bit more of a brooding presence as he works through the band's back catalogue.

He does remind us that he used to live in Cork, a period in the mid-1990s when he was in a relationship with Oriole Leitch, the daughter of folk singer Donovan.

It also underlined how the links between the second cities of Britain and Ireland in that era went way beyond the wearing of the red shirt by Keane and Irwin.

Manchester was centre of the dance music world, and some in the mostly 45+ male crowd at Cyprus Avenue would have first heard remixes of Mondays' tunes at Sir Henrys, the Leeside club regularly visited by DJs from the Hacienda, the legendary Manchester premises Ryder's band were also associated with.

Tonight's warm-up of squelchy acid-house is even provided by former Hacienda resident Jon DaSilva.

Getting back to the football references, the Cork gig proves to be a game of two halves.

'Kinky Afro' and 'Loose Fit' are conspicuously decent among the early part of a set that chugs along without reaching any great heights.

The band's scruffy indie-funk occasionally gets into a groove, with backing vocalist Rowetta providing some melody to complement Ryder's raspy tones.

Before the gig, she had posted pictures showing the presence of Alan McGee, the legendary founder of Creation records.

Proceedings really take off for the final quartet of songs that began with '24 Hour Party People', the 1987 track that also gave its name to the film about Tony Wilson and the Manchester music scene.

'Hallelujah' and their cover version 'Step On' follow as magnificent reminders of how the group - with the help of a bit of polish from the likes of Paul Oakenfold - really did plug into something special in their heyday.

A collision of a mad, laddish energy with a drug-fuelled youth culture that had dancing at its heart.

An encore of 'Wrote For Luck' closes out the gig and sends the Cork crowd home in flying form, delighted that the Happy Mondays had created a rather cheery Tuesday.

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