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Review: Happy Mondays at Dreamland in Margate

There can't be many places where going to a gig can coincide with a ride on a big wheel or a Chair-o-plane.

But amid the bright lights of Margate's Dreamland there's the chance to do just that.

808 State provide the support and those keen to rave get right down the front.

Dreamland was the perfect backdrop for the Happy Mondays (13788665)
Dreamland was the perfect backdrop for the Happy Mondays (13788665)

And as the sun goes down on a seaside Saturday night, the Happy Mondays take to the stage flanked by a Ferris wheel and the Dreamland Drop ride, with the Scenic Railway behind them.

And 30 years on from their heyday the amusement park's array of flashing lights offer the perfect backdrop for the band's cheerful brand of indie pop and freaky dancing.

Rowetta takes too the stage to start with, demonstrating the power of her voice, and as Bez and Shaun join her for Kinky Afro, plastic beer glasses and mobile phone screens are raised in synchronicity across the audience.

At the end of the first song Shaun Ryder says "We're the Happy Mondays. We're sticking to the eighties to start with," although the dates do seem to escape him every now and again.

Bez keeps up his trademark moves throughout the set, assisted these days by knee supports, occasionally grabbing a microphone to chat with Shaun and kicking back into the audience a football that is bobbing around the crowd.

The Happy Mondays at Dreamland (13788661)
The Happy Mondays at Dreamland (13788661)

"You're twisting my melon!" he yells as, predictably, the intro to Step On gets an absolutely massive reaction from the crowd and enthusiastic movers sporting Nineties bucket hats are suddenly everywhere you look.

The demographic may well be on the greyer side these days and be accompanied in some cases by their teenage children, but their love for the band is undimmed and there's plenty of freaky dancing in the crowd.

Other popular tracks to get an airing include Hallelujah and 24 Hour Party People before Bez leads a chant of "One more tune! One more tune!"

The last song has one refreshed-looking fan join the band onstage who is rapidly removed by security, before cheerfully reappearing momentarily to a roaring crowd.

And then Bez raises a microphone stand aloft and, to the tune of a Saturday TV sports theme, the band disappears.

It may no longer be a 24-hour party these days but for an hour and a half, you'd hardly know it.

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