Madness with special guests The Lightning Seeds performing their Can’t Touch Us Now Tour at The Motorpoint Arena Nottingham on Monday 12th December 2016

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

You couldn’t ask for a more perfect run into Christmas as two tone legends Madness’ Can’t Touch Us Now tour rolled into Nottingham to entertain a packed Motorpoint Arena.

But first up was Ian Broudie’s Lightning Seeds, who have always been an understated, undemonstrative band who may not have generated the headlines of their brasher peers, but last night’s ably executed set was stuffed full of instantly recognisable tunes. They turned out to be the perfect warm up act, who steadily won over the initially reserved audience but with their deluge of pop exuberance in Lucky You and Change, they had those who had come early on their feet.

With The Byrds cover of You Showed Me and the The Ronettes Be My Baby their set was pure class. By the time we had got to The Life Of Riley (named after Broudie’s son) and arguably the most perfect pop song in Pure, the audience were just waiting to have a sing along to set closer Three Lions.

Madness are some of the best showmen in music and are not afraid to show it off. Now in their fifth decade together and with some having been friends since they were twelve years of age, they have lost nothing of the character that has made them so much fun to see and endeared them to their fans. Entering the stage behind a row of convicts, bursting through a constructed jail cell, Suggs commanded the stage with opener Can’t Touch Us Now. It was a gentle start to the evening but the confidence that Madness have in their new batch of songs is clear as they embark upon their first major Arena tour for two years, to promote their eleventh studio album.

The Prince followed Embarrassment before they delivered a euphoric rendition of 2008 single NW5 which was a shining light in a set which was pure nostalgic fun. There were poignant moments as pictures of Amy Winehouse accompanied the beautiful Blackbird, whilst Lee Thompson had to limp to the side of the stage for some treatment, only to shuffle back for Mumbo Jumbo.

With the concert being in danger of petering out with the likes of The Sun and The Rain and Yesterday’s Men, they woke up the crowd with an onslaught of greatest hits like the snaking reggae groove of One Step Beyond which remains as beguiling fresh nearly forty years on, whilst their final few songs caused the entire Arena to erupt as the whole crowd stood and stomped along to Our House, Baggy Trousers and It Must be Love.

With this Camden gang’s enduring popularity often being underestimated, Suggs and his band’s humour reminded us why they have become part of the British Institution, as the between songs banter just flawlessly flowed between tracks.

With shouts for more, Mr Apples from their latest album was the first encore followed by Prince Buster’s Madness. When the powerful horns that introduced Night Boat To Cairo heralded the end of the night, the whole crowd left the Arena singing to the taped Monty Python’s Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, and it was difficult not too as the nostalgia that Madness had brought was pure fun and an absolute pleasure.