IT is almost 40 years since Manchester indie-dance crew The Happy Mondays got their act together enough to form a band. Since then their name has become synonymous with hedonism.

They have made no secret of their voracious appetites for all things illicit, consuming quantities of pharmaceuticals which would have felled anyone of a lesser constitution. Yet rather than killing them, the exotic substances seem to have kept them going – pickling them from within, Keith Richards-style. Heaven forbid they should ever stop.

The cynic might have expected the band’s show at a packed out O2 Academy Oxford last Thursday to have been a messy, chaotic affair. The opposite was, in fact, the case.

They may have decades of partying beneath their belts, but this is a band still at the top of their game. Frontman Shaun Ryder can sing as well as he ever could (but then again he was never Placido Domingo), while Bez dances and shakes his maracas with as much vigour as he did when the Hacienda was still ground-zero for the ‘Madchester’ rave scene.

The Hacienda is now the site of luxury flats, but The Happy Mondays rave on, throwing out the anthems with abandon.

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And we get them all: Kinky Afro, Loose Fit, Step On – with skyscraping vocals from the fabulous Rowetta.

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The place goes crazy for the intro to God’s Cop, for Rowetta’s Hallelujah and the jangly opening of Step On – the crowd joining in as one with Shaun’s refrain of “Call the cops!”

With the strobing lights, pounding base and crazy dancing it could have been the early 90s. Only our slightly more mature visages gave the game away. Still, the Mondays can show any young whippersnapper band a thing or two.

Hallelujah indeed!