Support comes from Burnley punk band “The Notsensibles” who were known for their 1979 song “I’m in love with Margaret Thatcher” (re-released after being featured in the Meryl Streep film “The iron Lady”). They still tour and whip through their set with noisy abandon. It’s ok but nothing remarkable, a decent enough support slot.

Lee “Kix” Thompson is the sax player from Madness and he also fronts this band consisting of drums, guitar, piano, hammond organ, trombone, trumpet, tenor sax, alto sax and baritone sax with Mark Bedford from Madness playing bass and Lee himself on vocals and tenor sax. All eleven of them manage to squeeze onto the stage at this pub venue, and with Brighton resident and Madness guitarist Chris Foreman in amongst the sold out audience, it’s a bit of a Madness affair.

Musically, there’s a huge nod to what The Skatalites were doing in the Sixties. It’s all fast Ska riffs punctuated by huge brass solos and it gets the crowd going from the off. Lee also doubles on vocal duties, doing a couple of Louis Armstrong numbers in amongst his non stop patter. Vocally (and not surprisingly) he sounds a little bit like Suggs but there again he has written a fair few of the Madness tunes so maybe it’s Suggs who sounds like him. He can carry a tune though and is an engaging front man. Basically, it’s all hugely good fun and goes down a storm.

I saw them when they played their début show at the first London International Ska Festival in 2011 and thought even then that this sort of set could easily do the rounds at festivals. One for the original skinheads, rudies and new Ska fans alike, the Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra is a top night out.


London International Ska Festival