Mark Berry doesn't really play an instrument. OK, a little maraca. But, in some ways, he could be considered as vital to Happy Mondays as frontman Shaun Ryder. Known simply as Bez, he was the Manchester rave-rock band's mascot, its hype man, its dancing Bosstone. "I go around in a daze half the time," he told this magazine in 1989. A spirit which, not coincidentally, was inextricable from Happy Mondays' zonked-out party music — their first Factory Records single was called "Freaky Dancin'," after all.
Bez isn't freaky dancin' anymore. He confirmed last night to the NME that he will no longer be shaking his thing, maraca or otherwise, on an upcoming tour that otherwise features Happy Mondays' original lineup. He will, though, be traveling with the band and doing some DJing. "I won't be on the stage because my performing days are over," he's quoted as saying. "Basically I'm too old. I'm incapable of doing the job, I'm carrying too many injuries."
Bez's non-dancing shouldn't be such a surprise. When Happy Mondays played at Coachella in 2007, he was unable to make the trip due to visa troubles. In addition to miraculously surviving an amount of drug ingestion that made Ryder look like Ned Flanders by comparison, Bez did suffer actually injuries even back in Happy Mondays' heyday; he fell off a boat and broke his arm, for example, during the recording of 1992's lackluster Yes, Please. And anyone who would rage at Chris Brown also has to deal with Bez's 2010 conviction for assaulting his then-girlfriend, among other violent miscues that reveal the not-so-charming side of hedonistic excess. (Come to think of it, Breezy is also an excellent dancer!)
Happy Mondays' latest reunion does not, as yet, include a U.S. jaunt. In May, the band will be performing at nearly a dozen venues across England, Scotland, and Ireland. People in the crowd will have to dance a little bit extra.