Live Zone

Happy Mondays / Inspiral Carpets / Stereo MC’s, Troxy London, 6th April 2024



Back in the day, in the 80s and 90s, Shaun Ryder and his merry band of Happy Mondays men and woman were off their faces more often than not, and notorious for their wild antics. Today, the band have dropped the sex and drugs and focus only on the rock and roll – with occasional tours.

Such as the current and pretty much all sold out, “The Been There And Done That” 16-date UK tour – their first headline tour in five years – which kicked off in Glasgow on 14th March and closes in Brighton a month later.

Last night a capacity audience rammed the East London venue Troxy to catch Shaun, Bez, Rowetta and company in the act, along with special guests Inspiral Carpets and Stereo MC’s.

Bez, Shaun & Rowetta


The gaff was bouncing and circa 3,100 punters young and old were bang up for it from the off; the two pint beer pitchers flying out from the bar all night for the well oiled fans. In contrast, Shaun necking water on stage.

It is a lovely venue I’d not been to before. In Stepney near Limehouse, this art deco building opened as a cinema in 1933, built on the site of a former brewery – the largest cinema in England with its whopping 3,520 capacity.

King Kong was the opening film screened. It closed in 1960 and became an opera training centre between 1963 and 1977. In the 1980s it was a bingo hall, until 2005 when it became an events space. Today it is a lovely theatre and concert venue.


Gig # 11 of 16 – with Southend, Cambridge, Sheffield, Liverpool, Brighton to go – does not disappoint; with all three bands turning in superb performances. The headliners deliver a solid 12-song, 75-minute set plus the single-song encore, “Wrote For Luck”.

Stereo MC’s sounded spot on for their short [30 minutes] but sweet six-song stint. Rob Birch and Cath Coffey on vocals, kicking off with “Pressure” and then delivering “On 33”, “Ground Level”, the hit “Connected”, “Elevate My Mind” and closing with their biggest hit, the timeless “Step It Up” – still sounding as fresh as it did back in 1992 when it peaked at # 12 in the UK singles chart and did very well in several US charts too.

Oldham band Inspiral Carpets maybe do not get the recognition they deserve. Featuring singer Stephen Holt, occasional DJ Clint Boon on keyboards, and his son Oscar on bass, they gave us a 10-song, 40 minute set – tracks from their albums “Life,” “Revenge of the Goldfish,” and “Devil Hopping” – with biggies “She Comes In The Fall”, “Saturn 5” and  “This Is How It Feels” getting a great response.

Madchester legends The Happy Mondays opening with the evergreen “Kinky Afro” – produced by Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne, the second single from the band’s third studio album, 1990’s “Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches.”

The set’s opener shoves a 100,000 volt charge throughout this rammed to the rafters venue. Rowetta Satchell wanders the stage like a caged tiger, twirling her fly whisk style whips – one in each hand – and eyeing up the snappers in the pit and the ravers in the crowd; her voice still 100% intact and booming out like a world class dance music diva.

She looks like a star and oozes stage presence, and when Shaun forgets the words or loses his place in a song – which tonight he did not do but it does happen! – Rowetta is the glue to keep this vintage train on the tracks. If she ever decided to jack it in, they should pay her treble to stay.

She exits after the opening two songs and leaves the band to deliver “God’s Cop” and “Donovan”, and pops back up on songs # four and five: “Dennis and Lois” and “Loose Fit” [all songs in the set so far are from “Pills ‘n’ Thrills And Bellyaches”] and clears off again until later.

Of course she is back for the classic “Step On”, the penultimate song with its memorable spoken part from Shaun: “You’re twisting my melon, man!”

Rowetta didn’t join the band until 1990, when she was a session singer for their third album “Pills ‘n” Thrills & Bellyaches” and stayed on – an integral part of their history ever since. [Random thought: On the current tour poster – see it at the bottom of the page – Rowetta looks like Bird’s Of A Feather’s Dorian Green aka actress Lesley Joseph, Shaun Ryder looks like Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Bez looks like Peter Crouch!].

At their London gig, Shaun has a bugger of a sore throat and tells us he needs medication; jokingly saying acid would be welcome. In reality, at 61-years-old, these days Shaun has a strict regime after a gig; get on the tour bus straight after the gig, and back to the hotel or in a car and home as fast as possible. No after show piss ups or lobbing TVs into the swimming pool; Shaun says he likes to order room service, watch the news on TV and off to kip. At home if he is not working: “When Newsnight’s finished, I’m off to bed.”

Shaun’s bezzie Bez is like the human answer to Tigger. Bez is…well, Bez. Does he sing? No. Does he play in the band? No. Bez does Bez. He dances, kind of; a bit like an arthritic old man wearing wellington boots a few sizes too big, wading uphill through treacle. With the occasional impression of a flamingo with one leg up! But joking aside, at 59, he must be as fit as a butcher’s dog to be prancing about like he does for an entire show every night. My back goes out just watching him!

Apart from the “freaky dancing”, he shakes maracas now and again and grins at the audience. That’s his job when he is not winning Big Brother, or taking part in cooking shows or Gogglebox; national treasure that he is. His best mate Shaun usually dons a baseball cap and sunglasses, but tonight no cap and no shades…

But let’s delve into a wee bit of history: The Happy Mondays were from Salford, Greater Manchester. Formed in 1980, the band’s original line-up was Shaun Ryder (vocals), his brother Paul Ryder (bass) – who died in 2022 – Mark Day (guitar), Paul Davis (keyboard), and Gary Whelan (drums). Mark “Bez” Berry later joined the band onstage as a dancer/percussionist. Rowetta Satchell joined the band as a guest vocalist in 1990.

They experienced their commercial peak with the releases “Bummed” (1988), “Madchester Rave On” (1989), and “Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches” (1990), with the latter going platinum in the UK. The album was recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles. Singles “Step On” and “Kinky Afro” from this album both reached number five in the UK singles chart.

The band were signed to Factory Records after passing a demo tape to Phil Saxe, a trader at Manchester Arndale who was on friendly terms with Mike Pickering, a DJ at the Haçienda nightclub. Saxe became the band’s manager. The first release from Happy Mondays was the “Forty Five EP”, often called the “Delightful EP” after its first track. It was released on Factory Records in September 1985. Their first album, “Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out)”, was released in 1987.

They released “Yes Please!”in 1992, produced by Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth from US legends Talking Heads, recorded at Eddy Grant’s studio in Barbados. The final album, “Uncle Dysfunktional” was released in 2007.

By the late 1980s, the Happy Mondays personified rave culture. Numerous world tours meant the band had international success as well as massive success in their home country. The line up of the band during this first ten year period never changed, and the six original members Shaun Ryder, Paul Ryder, Gary Whelan, Paul Davis, Mark Day and Mark “Bez” Berry remained a tight unit until the first incarnation came to an end in 1994.

The line-up today features two unsung heroes of this band; original drummer Gaz Whelan and original guitarist Mark Day, whose skills add huge value to the records and live on stage. Dan Broad is on guitar, keyboards and is also the band’s musical director. Bassist Mikey Shine, in the lineup since Shaun’s brother passed away suddenly at 58, also plays in Shaun’s other band, Black Grape.

The Happy Mondays’ classics “Hallelujah” and the fab “24 Hour Party People” sounded mighty here, and having seen this band a few times across the years, I will say this gig is probably the most together and exciting I have heard them.

Long may they continue ‘avin it large [well, more like ‘avin it moderately – keeping up with the statins and vitamins, and in bed after Newsnight!]

  • Please note: No melons were injured in the making of this gig!

Happy Mondays setlist

1. Kinky Afro

2. God’s Cop

3. Donovan

4. Dennis and Lois

5. Loose Fit

6. Performance

7. Mad Cyril

8. Tart Tart

9. Rave On

10. Hallelujah

11. 24 Hour Party People

12. Step On

13. Wrote for Luck


Stereo MC’s


Stereo MC’s


Stereo MC’s



Inspiral Carpets


Inspiral Carpets








Live photos: Liam Battersby

Posed band photo: Paul Husband

Words: Steve Best



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