Madness performing their Sound Of Madness Tour at The Motorpoint Arena Nottingham on Thursday 13th December 2018

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

The kings of Two Tone, Madness, were at the Motorpoint Arena last night to help a packed crowd begin their Christmas revelry early, and what a party it was.

To the glorious refrains of One Step Beyond, Suggs appeared dressed in a hat and coat reminiscent of Eric Morecombe as his TV show finished, the only difference being that Suggs was without a bag. But what he did have was bucket loads of charisma and as he shouted “Hey You”, this Arena audience yelled right back at him “Don’t Watch That, Watch This!”, and the fun began.

With four screens above the stage showing clips of Julie Andrews in The Sound Of Music, Suggs and Co showed why they are still popular enough to play arena tours. With the lively front man accompanied by Mike Barson on keyboards, guitarist Chris Foreman, bassist Mark Bedford, Dan Woodgate on drums, and the amazing saxophonist Lee Thompson doing just what he does, it was easy to see why they were chosen to play at Buckingham Palace, The Olympics Closing Ceremony and BBC Television Centre’s Farewell Concert.

As they brought the house down with their Sound Of Madness tour, they delivered a powerful potion of their old and new foot stomping songs. That an arena full of people of all ages knew every word to their oldies says everything about the esteem with which the Camden Nutty Boys are held by the public.

Dominating the charts between 1979 and 1986, few bands have had such a Midas touch that giants like Embarrassment, The Prince and a lovely reworked My Girl appear within the first six songs. With a huge repertoire of songs to choose from, they had to leave several whoppers out. This time Cardiac Arrest, Grey Day and Yesterday’s Men made way for Bed And Breakfast Man, a terrific Shut Up and Driving In My Car, a cheery homage to British motoring’s days of empty roads and old bangers.

And when they hit their only UK number one, House Of Fun, the party shifted into overdrive. Baggy Trousers, Our House and Labi Siffre’s It Must Be Love followed and the audience were in a crazy sort of delirium, reminiscent of those nutty days nearly forty years ago.

Wrapping up this Christmas party with a return to their ska roots, Prince Buster’s Madness had middle aged men in the audience dancing like teenagers and with evening closer, the barmy Nightboat To Cairo, both Madness and their fans showed that they are still able to have their nutty moments.