Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Happy Mondays live in Margate July 2019

Happy Mondays came to Greece in 2008. And I missed them, I completely forgot! Then, they were due to come in July 2013 at Ejekt Festival supporting the Pet Shop Boys. Now, because a general strike was announced on that particular day in Athens, they did not risk getting on a plane to Greece. So, Peter Hook And The Light were drafted at the last minute. Fast forward to 2016 when I was in Manchester, at Etihad Stadium waiting for The Stone Roses to come on stage (I had been dreaming of that for years!). Suddenly the sounds of "Hallelujah" come out of the speakers. 
These two bands were in the same category back in the day and I remembered that I wanted to see them as well, now that my Stone Roses dream had come true. Now, no sensible promoter would be booking them to appear in Greece after that unfortunate "general strike" incident. It was therefore imperative that I take matters into my own hands. I started following them on Facebook and waited for the perfect opportunity. Which eventually came. They announced that they would play at a seaside amusement park (Dreamland Margate) in the summer of 2019 at the ridiculously cheap price of 20GBP per ticket. I didn't have to think twice. I bought the ticket and thought "well, even if I can't make it it's only 20 quid, isn't it?". I still remember the message my browser displayed when I pressed the "Buy Now" button: "Congratulations! You're going to see The Happy Mondays in Margate!".
So, the morning after the Rod Stewart concert, I departed Brighton towards another part of the British coast. I had to go through London, though. My tickets had been bought in advance so there was no problem there. I even retraced my train journeys from when I was a student in Canterbury in 1989.
When I arrived in Margate, one of the first things I noticed was Dreamland. It was impossible to miss it. 

As I was walking along the beach road towards my room I couldn't help thinking of the Morrissey song "Every Day Is Like Sunday". It was a seaside town but so much different to Brighton.

I decided to go to the park early, clad in my Stone Roses t-shirt from 2016, so I could wander around the amusement park. After all, I had been working in one of them 19 years before in the USA. After checking out all the amusements and all the rides (although I didn't get on any of them) I arrived at the stage.

The opening act was one from the same era: 808 State. As their set unfolded it was beginning to feel more and more like a 90's rave party. And it was surreal that you could look around while the gig was in progress and see that people were still on the rides.

After their set was over I retraced my steps towards the entrance in order to find some beer.

Then it was back to the stage area where I secured a nice spot near the sound console for the Happy Mondays set.

They finally came up on stage with Shaun Ryder on crutches who after a few notes proceeded on throwing them away. They told us that they were mainly playing songs from the "Pills'N'Thrills'N'Bellyaches" album.

But there was no need to worry, because, along with that album all the hits were there: "Step On", "Loose Fit", "Bob's Yer Uncle" (a big hit in the Santorini clubs and beach bars back in 1991-92), "Kinky Afro", the club mix of "Hallelujah" and a wonderful "Wrote For Luck" saved for the end. Bez was there, cheerful as usual along with Rowetta, although she had to eject an over-eager fan from the stage several times.

I had a wonderful time and for the duration of the gig I was transported back to the 90's. The next morning I woke up and went straight to the station to catch a train to London and attend the "Van Gogh In London" exhibition at the Tate Gallery before I headed to the airport to catch my flight to Athens. I would be back to London though before the year was over for my last gig before the lockdown....
01. Kinky Afro
02. God's Cop
03. Donovan
04. Grandbag's Funeral
05. Loose Fit
06. Dennis And Lois
07. Bob's Yer Uncle
08. Step On
09. Holiday
10. Hallelujah
11. 24 Hour Party People
12. Wrote For Luck

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