REVIEW: Madness - Newmarket Racecourse

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The effervescent Madness show no sign of slowing down despite their looming fortieth anniversary since forming as a band in 1976.

The Camden ‘Nutty Boys’ continue to play a unique and heady brew of their own musical loves of ska, soul and Motown mixed with wonderful pop sensibilities.

Though many have tried to write them off or diminish them due to their humorous image those detractors utterly miss the point that here is a band who yes, are having fun, but also have so much more depth than that.

To have lasted so long and successfully shows a real quality and their ability to make audiences dance, sing and smile has never diminished as all those at Newmarket can attest to.

Never a band to rest on their laurels, Madness kicked off their set with titular tour opener Grandslam before launching into two classic tracks in the shape of the biting Embarrassment and the joyful ska of The Prince.

And so it continued, with the set peppered with lesser known gems and new songs with some of the many hits they’ve enjoyed over the years.

It was wonderful to hear Los Palmas 7 and Lovestruck back in the show along with Lee Thompson’s initially nervous but ultimately triumphant debut lead vocal on Mumbo Jumbo and a storming cover of Rudy Mills, from The Dangermen Sessions album.

With Suggs’ usual foil Chas Smash taking a break from the band to launch his solo album, one of the most unusual parts of the evening was the sight of Chris Foreman leading the huge crowd in the first verse and chorus of Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer, something that was equal parts unexpected, very funny and incredibly loud.

The set finished with a run of six of their biggest hits from their first Top Ten single One Step Beyond through to the always utterly sublime cover of It Must Be Love, which closed the evening perfectly and caused a mass sing-along and swaying amongst the sea of fez and porkpie hat wearing faithful.

With an encore of Madness and Night Boat To Cairo it was certainly a night to remember and proved without doubt that Suggs and Co are one of THE finest bands this country has ever produced.

PAUL MONKHOUSE