Anybody remember the Shaun Ryder-fronted late-period Madchester outfit Black Grape? They were, for one album at least, the band the Happy Mondays could have been. And they're back, for one night only, this Easter.
Formed after the Mondays collapsed into a long, dark, maudlin Tuesday of the soul, Black Grape managed to shuffle out one unexpectedly great album, 1995's It's Great When You're Straight... Yeah. Featuring a cover image of Carlos the Jackal, It's Great.... saw the rump of the Mondays pull it together for just long enough in the studio to emerge with a dozen decent tunes and a surprisingly strong chart showing, reaching platinum status in the UK and spawning a number one hit, the Catholic church-baiting "Reverend Black Grape". But the group's trajectory was short and explosive: 1997's sophomore release Stupid Stupid Stupid stiffed in the charts, and Ryder fired his bandmates shortly afterwards.
Ryder has spent most of his recent years growing a copious beer gut and mispronouncing the lyrics to chart-topping songs, so whether he can pull a decent gig out of his rag-tag crew remains to be seen. A Happy Mondays reunion during the mid-2000s proved agreeably shambolic, but relied on large amounts of audience goodwill: whether the Grape can command such fondness will be seen later in the year.
Black Grape are playing as part of Get Loaded In The Dark at the Coronet, Elephant & Castle, on April 1st.