In 1990, the Happy Mondays decamped from Manchester to London to record Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches, an album which came to define the very maddest moments of the Madchester movement. 25 years later and the original band are back together (minus keyboard player Paul Davis) and on the road to play their way through the record in its entirety.
First to hit the stage though are fellow Mancunians Alias Kid, managed by Alan McGee and with more than a hint of his most famous acts chucked into the mix. They have the swagger of Oasis, the groove of peak Primal Scream and the volume of the Jesus and Mary Chain. Alias Kid may not have discovered any new chords but they're doing something pretty exciting with the old ones.
Right on time, the Mondays amble into view and jump straight into 'Kinky Afro' with minimal messing. Back in the day they were far from master musicians but tonight they sound tighter than ever – time has been kind to them, all things considered. The room is filled with men and women of a certain age and what a great time they're having, eyes closed and transported by the music back to younger days.
As promised, they play the album through from start to finish. There are plenty of highs ('Loose Fit', 'Bob's Yer Uncle' and the mighty 'Step On' all standing out) and only a couple of lulls. Shaun Ryder keeps a relatively low profile throughout, preferring to hunker down in the shadows and let others steal the limelight. Bez perhaps doesn't have the same energy levels as he once did, taking a mid-set breather to sit out a few songs, but when he's on stage you just can't take your eyes off him, all crazy arms, wild eyes and freaky dancing. The term 'backing vocalist' never did Rowetta justice and she's magnificent tonight, an unstoppable force who flirts her way through the gig with band and crowd alike.
Having zipped through the album they return for an all-too-short encore of 'Hallelujah' and a massive 'Wrote For Luck'. Sadly there's no '24 Hour Party People', or 'Lazyitis', no obscure b-sides, no new songs – but that's fine. Tonight's all about remembering and celebrating a moment in time, not thinking about the next party. A happy Sunday, then, and off we go, dancing into the night to the theme tune from Grandstand.