Friday 15 March 2024

Happy Mondays / Inspiral Carpets / Stereo MCs - Glasgow Barrowland - 14th March 2024

When Happy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets announced their tour last year, tickets for the shows were in high demand with some venues selling out instantly, resulting in no fewer than three Glasgow shows. Tonight was the first of those sell out shows. Stuart Ralston ventured home for the evening.

This is a proper old fashioned package tour like you used to see in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Three bands on a bill with a strict doors-at-7-and-curfew-at-11 policy means that we don’t have long to wait until Stereo MCs take to the stage. The London four piece have a healthily crowd in and front man Rob soon has them in the palm of his hand as they smash through a selection of their finest cuts including Step It Up and Connected. The bass and beats provided by their DJ Nick Hallam reverberate around the famous old ballroom and Cath Coffey provides some incredible backing vocals. 

Stereo MCs go down a storm and the party has well and truly started. They are followed by Oldham’s finest, Inspiral Carpets.

It’s 36 years since Inspiral Carpets first played here, supporting the Wedding Present and this marks the first time that original singer Stephen Holt has returned to perform here since, although Clint and Graham played three memorable sold out headline shows in the early ‘90s as part of the Boon/Lambert/Gill/Walsh/Hingley era of the band. Tonight sees the first appearance of Oscar on bass and Kev on drums at the Barrowland and they both relish the occasion. As it’s a support slot, we are treated to a best of set and there’s no time for any b-sides or obscurities. It’s the first show of the year for the band and they are on tremendous form. They take to the stage to the sounds of World of Twist and a huge cheer from the crowd. 

Joe gets the ten-song set underway. Delivered at super fast pace, dominated by Kev Clarke’s drumming and Clint Boon’s imposing, swirling Farfisa. “We’re back” Clint announces before launching into early single Butterfly. It’s another fast paced garage classic. A perfect post punk single, clocking in at two and half minutes and sees a great vocal interplay between Stephen and Clint. Find Out Why follows in the same vein as Butterfly and Kev’s drumming impresses once again. It’s four months since their last gig but you wouldn’t know it as the band are absolutely on fire. Two Worlds Collide slows the pace slightly. 

The sound of Mark E Smith comes pouring out the PA as the band launch into an impassioned I Want You. It’s much harder live than on record. Move slows it down again and features a new, magnificent reworked outro. The crowd love it. She Comes In The Fall is one of the set highlights with some great guitar work from Graham and a wonderful drum solo from Kev. This Is How It Feels is a magnificent ensemble piece and benefits from the addition of Oscar on backing vocals. This Is How It Feels is every bit anthemic and rousing as it has ever been. Sackville changes the pace again. The hardest song in their repertoire with a real powerful Farfisa dominating and Oscar’s imposing bass. Traditional set closer Saturn 5 once again takes its place at the foot of the setlist and is the perfect upbeat euphoric end. 

I first came to the Barrowland Ballroom as a 15 year old school kid to see Inspiral Carpets and now I’m just shy of my 50th birthday. Tonight was easily one of the best sets I’ve seen here. 

The voice of Shaun William Ryder can be heard ambling off-stage as the musicians warm up and with the tour called ‘Been There, Done That’ there’s a sense that Happy Mondays might just be going through the motions on this tour but those thoughts are redundant over the next seventy minutes as Happy Mondays deliver an uplifting and inspiring set of classics from their back catalogue. The band open by running through half of their Pills N Thrills album - Kinky Afro, God’s Cop, Donovan, Dennis and Lois and Loose Fit - to the delight of most of the crowd (there are pockets of the crowd who are here to drink, talk and take photographs of themselves with the band in the background and they look like they really couldn’t give a sh*t about the music). 

It’s when’s the band depart from Pills N Thrills though that they are at their best. Mad Cyril and Tart Tart being prime examples. Mark Day and Gaz Whelan on guitar and drums respectively are excellent but almost overlooked musicians, accompanied by Dan Broad on keyboards and newest recruit Mikey Shine on bass who was brought onboard after the sad and untimely passing of Shaun’s brother, the late great Paul Ryder. Mikey’s style is very reminiscent of Paul’s and he fits right in to the band (he played in one of the earlier reincarnations of the reformed band a decade or so ago, so he knows the ropes). 

Rave On is expanded and improvised and one of the many songs in the set to benefit from Rowetta’s powerful vocals. Rave On is followed by a spectacular Hallelujah sprinkled with more magic from Rowetta. 

The closing trio - 24 Hour Party People, Step On and WFL - send the crowd home happy. Bez gets the crowd going on the “here we f’king go” chants during the later and it spoils it a bit for us. WFL is raw and loose and the perfect end to the night.

Happy Mondays are on Facebook and Twitter.

Inspiral Carpets official website is here. They are also on Twitter and Facebook.  


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