Happy Mondays To Reunite

Influential dance-rockers to end six-year layoff with several gigs, including one in Manchester, England, their hometown.

The long-inactive Manchester, England, band Happy Mondays will reunite for several

shows this year, singer Shaun Ryder revealed in a newspaper column Friday (Jan.15).

"I know I said there'd be no more Mondays gigs," Ryder wrote in a weekly column he

writes for the Manchester newspaper Daily Sport, "but I changed me mind after

me, [drummer Gary] Gaz [Whelan], our Paul [bassist Paul Ryder] and [dancer] Bez [born

Mark Berry] had a drink and decided we're going to do a few gigs because we've been

asked to."

Ryder wrote in his column, "It's Great Talking Straight," that one of the shows will be at

the Manchester Evening News Arena, which recently hosted Welsh rock-giants the

Manic Street Preachers. He said details of "eight or nine" shows will be forthcoming.

The Happy Mondays, a dance-rock band, helped fuel the U.K. rave scene, and British

fans still have fond memories of them six years after they called it quits.

The Mondays, formed in 1980, purveyed a groove-laden sound, which helped give rise

to acid-house music. Their music, which mixed the druggy rhythms and attitude of dance

music with Ryder's lazy, often scatological, rapping and the goggle-eyed dancing of their

wraith-like mascot, Bez -- has been cited as influential by such superstar British acts as

the guitar-pop band Oasis and techno's Chemical Brothers.

The band split early in 1993 after the release of Yes Please, which sold poorly

and led to the bankruptcy of Factory Records.

Representatives from the Manchester Evening News Arena and British promoter SJM,

who declined to give their names, said their companies were discussing an upcoming

show by the Happy Mondays, but nothing has been confirmed.

Jeremy Patterson, spokesman for the re-established Factory Records, said the upcoming

shows are common knowledge around Manchester, although they remain unconfirmed.

"They will be happening," he said. Patterson said the label has nothing to do with these

shows, or any upcoming releases at this point.

After the demise of the Mondays, Shaun Ryder resurfaced in the summer of 1995 with a

band, Black Grape, and a #1 U.K. album, It's Great When You're Straight ... Yeah!

Ryder, the only constant member of the group, led Black Grape through a tumultuous

three-year career that ended when he sacked the other players in December 1997, just

after the release of the band's poorly received second album, Stupid Stupid


That record included such typically cheeky, funky Ryder compositions as


music/Black_Grape/Squeaky.ram">"Squeaky" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Get

Higher," a song featuring what sounded like former U.S. president Ronald Reagan

admitting to drug use in the White House.

Ryder stayed active with his weekly column, an ongoing film project, and a cameo in the

recent film "The Avengers."

In a December 1998 edition of the column, Ryder broached the notion of a Happy

Mondays reunion. "I'm starting to miss the buzz of doing the music," he wrote. Ryder went

on to imply that a re-formed band would feature the core members -- Ryder on vocals,

along with Whelan, Paul Ryder and Berry -- but not the Mondays' keyboardist or guitarist.

Fans were delighted at the news. One, Roger Driver, said he expected to attend at least

one of the concerts, regardless of the distance from his home on the south coast. "This

tour should be amazing -- I hope I'll get to hear all the greatest hits," he said.

But Driver said he doubted the re-formed band would rekindle the long-dead

"Madchester" scene, which included the Mondays and such similar bands as the Soup

Dragons, Charlatans UK and Inspiral Carpets.

Nor did Driver expect they'd produce any new material. "It would be like the Beatles

trying to release new stuff," he said. "They should leave that side of the past to rest."

(Staff Writer Chris Nelson contributed to this report.)