Happy Mondays/The Farm, Brixton Academy, London

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The Independent Culture

"God rains his Es down on me", Shaun Ryder once infamously sang in his strangled Mancunian drawl.

"God rains his Es down on me", Shaun Ryder once infamously sang in his strangled Mancunian drawl. Witnessing the shambolic, bloated, hunched figure before us, the deluge must have drowned Ryder's singing ability and any semblance of coherence - it was well-nigh impossible to catch a single utterance from this ultimate e-casualty of the "baggy" scene. Still, it was horribly fascinating, if only to see whether Ryder could stay upright and not drop the beer bottles clenched in his hand as he peered down at the lyrics placed at his feet on pieces of cardboard.

Ryder remained hopelessly static, save for an occasional swig and a twitchy shuffle of his bulky shoulders. Bez, his best pal and fellow survivor from the original Mondays line-up, tried to make up for this with a tired reprise of his former demented dancing self. The Celebrity Big Brother winner, in a sleeveless jumper, prowled the stage without wit or purpose, wiry frame jerking to the loping, trippy soul, arms flailing in the wearisome psychedelic lights.

Like Monty Python's parrot, it quickly became clear that this late Eighties/early-Nineties Madchester scene is quite dead. It has dated terribly. Even the predominantly thirtysomething audience look tired. Gone are the Day-Glo outfits, the hooded tops, the long-sleeve shirts and floppy hats; the crowd dressed like they were going to see City entertain United. The mood was sullen and sozzled.

And the lead-up to the Mondays' entrance wasn't helped by a leaden performance from the Liverpool band The Farm. Even their two irritatingly addictive football chants - "Get on the Groovy Train" and "All Together Now" - sounded worn out. A Gerry and the Pacemakers reunion gig would have more edge - and relevance.

Could the one-time kings of northern soul, flower-power rock and Detroit acid house lift the mood? Armed with Ryder's mordant stream-of-consciousness lyrics, how could they fail not to be, at the very least, interesting?

However, any wit was drowned out by a overwhelming feeling of pointlessness. They plodded through their greatest hits. "Step On" and "Kinky Afro" (from their landmark third album Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches) were soullessly wheeled out, and near the it-couldn't-come-too-soon finale they performed their most enduring track and the standout song of the night, the anthemic rave tune "Wrote for Luck" (from Bummed), with Ryder almost appearing reanimated. But it was far too little, too late. Ultimately, a pretty vacant evening and time for all concerned to step off the not-so-groovy train.

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