Legends set to top landmark concert

Bez with Andy Pilley
Bez with Andy Pilley
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A string of headline artists will top the bill at a huge anti-fracking gig at Fleetwood Town’s Highbury stadium, it was revealed today.

Manchester music legends the Happy Mondays will be joined by Alabama 3 and more “headline artists” for the Live Wyre gig – an anti-fracking concert – on Sunday, June 1.

Other chart-topping names are to be announced next week for what will be the biggest music event in the port for decades.

Fleetwood Town chairman Andy Pilley said: “We’re delighted the Happy Mondays have confirmed they will be playing Highbury.

“We’re optimistic we can get some more really big names. The Happy Mondays are a huge, huge group and have been incredibly popular in the past few decades.

“I don’t think there’s been an event of this size before in north Fylde in the past.

“We’re very keen to ensure that the local community gets the opportunity to be at this event so its our intention to have a scheme whereby local people get first priority for the event and the rest goes on general sale if and when there’s any tickets left.”

Happy Mondays star Bez – aka Mark Berry – was in Fleetwood last month at an anti-fracking event. He is set to stand as an MP with an anti-fracking agenda in Salford at the next General Election.

The fracking process involves firing water and chemicals into shale rock deep below the surface to release gas.

Opponents say it is environmentally unsound, but firms behind the practice , including Cuadrilla which is looking to extract gas from Bowland shale under the Fylde coast, say there is enough regulation in the UK to ensure it will be carried out safely.

Mr Pilley, who also owns BES Utilities, which sells gas and electricity, said he was happy for the concert to go ahead with its anti-fracking message.

He said: “I’m happy that this event takes place in Fleetwood where people can enjoy fantastic artists, with a theme of looking after the environment.

“My view is that safety should be of paramount importance and we should make sure fracking is safe before it starts.”

Bez, from the Happy Mondays, said: “Can you believe it – the Cod Army better watch out!

“We’re looking forward to it, the Frack Free Sunday Live Wyre Festival.

“It’s an anti-fracking gig to raise awareness of fracking and invite the community down.

“Hopefully we’ll have a lot of celebrities coming down and we’ll have a great day out.

“There’s us, the Alabama 3s and a few more well-known bands to be announced yet.”

Formed in 1980, the Salford band’s original line-up was Shaun Ryder on lead vocals, his brother Paul Ryder on bass, lead guitarist Mark Day, keyboardist Paul Davis, and drummer Gary Whelan. Mark “Bez” Berry later joined the band onstage during a live performance after befriending Shaun Ryder and served as a dancer/percussionist.

Manchester music impresario Tony Wilson discovered them (then managed by Phil Saxe) at a battle of the bands contest held at his Hacienda nightclub.

Their first album was followed by two classic albums; Bummed in 1988, produced by Martin Hannett, then Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches in 1990 produced by Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne which went platinum in the UK selling more than 350,000 copies. This put the band firmly on the map as one of the most influential bands to come out of the UK in the early 1990s.

Ticket details – and more acts – are expected to be released next week.