The festive atmosphere at the band's increasingly rare gigs, with the final section of the show and the encores including several covers, could easily fool the casual observer into thinking that this was a knockabout act rather than one of the finest bands this city has ever produced.
Tom jokes that they had one-and-a-half hit singles, referring to Parachute and the storming rocker Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello (Petrol). But that's doing himself and his bandmates, Ray Harman, Alan Byrne and Eamonn Ryan, an injustice.
Despite the obvious sense of mischief whenever the Happens play -- and, having seen them live well over 100 times, I'm in a position of some certainty here -- there's more to them than that. An advance tape of their debut album Been There, Seen That, Done That provided the soundtrack for a glorious three weeks at Euro 88 with the evocative Forget Georgia, still capable of sending shivers down my spine.
Their follow-up Stuck Together With God's Glue should have been the one which broke them internationally but, despite the one-and-a-half hits, record company implosions prevented the crucial American breakthrough, leaving great songs like Room 29, Devil in Miss Jones, What Now and Kill the Roses to die on the vine.
In many ways the Happens would be playing bigger venues had they called it a day around 1997 and reformed a couple of years ago for a reunion romp through God's Glue, but I'm glad they didn't as their annual pre-New Year shows are a 'must see' in my gig calendar. And, yes, a version of What's Another Year may be cheesy but it's that time of year when a band like the Happens can get away withit.
Something Happens play Whelan's tonight.