The pre-Christmas Madness tour is now almost as traditional as Christmas pud itself so it’s time to catch them in Brighton again. The Nutty Boys also have a new album “Oui Oui, Si Si, Ja Ja, Da Da” but it’s the songs they’ve released since the Two Tone days back in 1979 that the majority of fans are here for.
Their original bass player Mark “Bedders” Bedford is no longer in the line up but they have a replacement plus the band is augmented by an additional three man brass section. They kick off as always with “One step beyond”, and from there it’s party central at Madness HQ.
After a raucous singalong version of both “Embarrassment” and “My girl”, Suggs has the perfect cue to introduce “My girl 2” from the new album. They also play “Never Knew Your Name” from the new album, a tale of a doomed romance at a disco that Suggs introduces by saying it’s about Mike Barson their keyboard player. After that we get the classic songs that have we expect. “Wings of a dove”, “The prince”, “Our house”, “It must be love” and “Bed and breakfast man” (complete with audience singing the “oh, oh, oooh” chorus bit in the wrong place, something that happens every time I’ve ever heard them play this). These classic Madness songs still sound great and keep the party bouncing along. The band take a short break while guitarist Chris Foreman sings AC/DC’s “Highway to hell”, the rowdy chorus proving to be the perfect shout-along to get the crowd going ever more.
There are some great graphics and lights on stage adding to the fun fair/carnival vibe, and when balloons drop down onto the crowd during “House of fun” it’s a perfect addition to the athmosphere. The balloons continue being bounced around during “Baggy trousers”, that ode to 70’s school days that still sounds great today and that concludes their main set.
They encore with “Death of Rude Boy” from the new album, and for the hordes of overweight, Fez-wearing skinheads the final tune of the night has to be “Night boat to Cairo” from the “Work, rest and play” EP that came out in 1980. Various band family members come bounding onto the stage at this point to dance to the final tune and it’s a great way to finish an enjoyable set.
One of the few Christmas traditions still worth keeping, Madness bring the party to your town every single time.